DEAR MISS MANNERS: Our son has brought home his girlfriend twice, each for a week-long stay. On both occasions, within an hour, she sat his father and me down to have a discussion about our son by stating, “This is what I need you to do to get Jackson to marry me,” and “This is the conversation you need to have with him.”
On both occasions, we explained that our son will make that decision on his own.
During the second visit, she also let us know how “cool a girlfriend” she is because she was taking our son to a strip club that night. I was dumbfounded. I told her we didn’t need to know those details.
The rest of the second visit had her traipsing about my home in her underwear and a T-shirt; talking about her sexy look to my husband while I wasn’t in the room; standing at the top of our stairs in said underwear trying to get my husband to engage in conversation (requiring him to look up at her). I was infuriated, ceased communication with her and left for the grocery store, praying they would be gone when I returned.
To my horror, she is now (not surprisingly) pregnant. I’m not sure how I can get past the seething anger I feel every time I think of her, let alone having to be tied to her for the rest of my life. I am filled with rage every time her name is mentioned.
Please give me guidance on how to handle this rage and still support our son. Loving the child is without question, and we have also found ourselves quite taken with her child from a previous relationship.
GENTLE READER: Where was your son when all this was going on? And where is he now? Are they to be married?
In any case, you now are, as you are chagrined to admit, tied to your unwelcome visitor for life. Your access to your grandchild will depend on her goodwill.
This will be as severe an etiquette test as Miss Manners can imagine. You will have to keep reminding yourself that you are doing it for the sake of your grandchild — not just for your own satisfaction, but to provide an alternative household and way of behaving, which it seems likely that the child will need.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How did we arrive at the etiquette rules regarding men wearing hats inside buildings? What was the original rationale? I have been unable to find an explanation that makes sense.
GENTLE READER: When it comes to tracing back the origin of folk customs, the choice is often between making sense and being factual. Sometimes we do things a certain way just because that is the way we do things.
It is widely believed that the custom evolved from knights’ lifting or removing their headgear out of politeness, to show their adversaries who was about to hack them to pieces, or to make eyes at married ladies whom they idolized.
Miss Manners doesn’t know. She wasn’t there.