Dear Miss Manners:
For 10 years, my husband and I have disagreed on the correct way to make a bed. We have asked friends and family, and the answers are split.
I believe that the top sheet should be placed print-side down, so that when you get in, or turn the bed down, you see the printed side. My husband believes that the printed side should go up so that when you pull the blanket down, the printed side of the sheet will show.
Now please don't get me wrong. If my husband is willing to make our bed, I don't care if the top sheet is over the comforter! But for the sake of our guest room, please resolve this issue once and for all.
It is lucky for you that Miss Manners is not in the marriage-counseling business, or she would suggest twin beds. But as she rejects compromise when it is a question of right or wrong, it is also lucky that she is also resourceful.
Patterned or not, the top sheet is properly placed right side down, so that the hem is inside and the print showing (or the monogram reading correctly) when it is folded back over the blanket. Miss Manners does not hesitate to point out that this makes you right, as you are willing to be gracious about it if he is willing to make the bed.
However, your husband is also right that no sensitive person could go peacefully to sleep knowing that only his own closed eyelids are protecting him from the sight of the wrong side of the sheet.
This is why a bountiful providence gave us the blanket cover. A thin but prettily decorated item, the blanket cover is placed right side up over the blanket, with its top under the folded-over part of the top sheet, but can equally well be placed over the top sheet of a blanketless bed.
Dear Miss Manners:
Whenever families come and visit me from out of town, they say, "Can I use the telephone? I have to call the kids," and proceed to dial the numbers direct. That leaves me with long-distance bills to pay.
I don't want to start any arguments among families, but is there any diplomatic way of telling them that I don't wish to be billed for their calls? My husband and I live on Social Security and I have a part-time job that does not pay well. Whenever I travel and need to call home, I always use my phone card. Now why can't they do the same?
Because they have so many different telephones and systems to pay for them they no longer have that sense of one long-distance call being an expense. That doesn't mean Miss Manners approves of their making free use of yours. In fact, they are probably provided with all kinds of means--not only cards but access numbers and their own cell phones--by which to assume payment.
The polite way to prompt them is to answer the request by saying, "Of course, go right ahead. I don't know which long-distance carrier you use, but people don't seem to have any trouble reaching any of them from here."
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.
(C) 1999, Judith Martin