"Not another museum!"
"Are you going to waste another day hanging around the pool?"
"Shopping? You went shopping yesterday. If that's all you're going to do, why didn't you stay home and vacation at the mall?"
"Why do you have to go to every restaurant in the guidebook? Can't you just grab a sandwich once in a while? You're spending all your time eating."
"If you're going to waste half the day sleeping, what was the point of coming here?"
"Can't you think of something to do that's not so damn educational? This was supposed to be a vacation."
"All you do is take pictures -- who do you think is going to look at them?"
"It's stupid to spend all that time writing postcards when half the people don't even know we're away and the other half we'll probably see before the cards arrive."
"Can't you leave something to see next time?"
Such are the joys of the shared vacation. A great many people have the identical idea of holiday fun, Miss Manners has noticed. It is in ragging other people about what they consider to be holiday fun.
This is bad enough when friends get together after their vacations to exchange stories about the adventures they have had. That is the opportunity for them to characterize one another's choices as foolish:
"Really -- you still go there? But it's so spoiled now. We used to go years ago, before it was discovered." (So how did you find it? With a compass?)
"You shouldn't go there. You're just encouraging their rich to oppress the poor." (Would it help if we tried to starve them out?)
"Your children are too young to appreciate that kind of vacation. You should have left them at home. They'll never remember it."
"You should have taken your children. When they're a little older, they won't want to be seen with you."
And so on. But when the criticism comes from those who are also on the trip, it sort of defeats the idea of having a holiday.
Even those who like to utilize their time off from work to schedule self-improvement routines are amazingly ungrateful for suggestions on how to do this. It seems that the "self" they had in mind was to be not only the subject for improvement, but the decision-maker about what improvement was necessary.
Yet people insist upon bringing critics along on their vacations, just because they happen to be in love with them or related to them -- or fond enough to make the notion of splitting costs seem appealing. And sometimes those who seemed perfectly satisfied with them at home unexpectedly blossom into critics when they travel.
Carping at others for their leisure-time choices is not a polite habit. It is not even a useful one, because the most it can hope to achieve is to produce a conscripted companion who has surrendered choice in the interests of peace. And you know how surly they can be.
Miss Manners hopes it will help if she lets vacationers in on an apparently well-kept secret: There is nothing rude about deciding to spend the day differently from others with whom one is traveling.
Dear Miss Manners:
I am a working woman who goes out to lunch just about every day. I also happen to be very well-endowed.
The restaurant booths and chairs in most restaurants are set up so you are extremely close to the table, so you have to sit completely upright and can't sit back from the table. No matter how careful I am, I always manage to get a drip on my blouse -- nothing ever makes it to my lap, where my napkin is.
I know that it is bad etiquette to stuff a napkin down the front of your blouse (although I do see men flip their ties back over their shoulders so they don't fall into their soup), but I am not happy about walking around with spots on my clothing all day, either. Any ideas?
A washable scarf. Miss Manners suggests draping it decoratively over your endowment, and rinsing it out after lunch. It is amazing how easy it is to acquire respectability with a mere change of name.
Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at MissManners@unitedmedia.com or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.
(c) 2005, Judith Martin