Dear Miss Manners: Is there a polite way to call attention to a stranger's shoe odor?

When my wife and I went to an afternoon movie, a couple sat down next to us, the man on my left. After a few moments, he crossed his left leg over his knee, putting his left foot closer to me.

Within moments, I was besieged with a truly horrible odor from his sneakers. I moved to my wife's right, leaving an empty seat to her left. After a minute, she, too, said enough is enough, and we moved together to a couple of rows back, with little inconvenience, in that it was a lightly attended show.

Would there have been a polite way to let this person know of this issue?

Even if there were, you would then likely have to endure either an unpleasant conversation or witness his trying to fix it — with more of a social obligation to stay put whilst doing so. Removing yourself from the situation solved your problem. Let us leave it at that.

Miss Manners suspects that once this man realizes that there are consistently empty seats surrounding him in public places, he will take measures to solve the problem. Or enjoy all of the newfound extra room.

Dear Miss Manners: About seven years ago, a family that was friends with our family moved halfway around the world. They return to our area once or twice a year, and we usually get together with them and their other local acquaintances.

They have contacted us about plans for this summer. They invited us to a catered barbecue and asked us to commit to attending and paying $33 per person for hot dogs, hamburgers and potato salad.

We feel that inviting us to a party and asking us to pay for our food is rather tacky, especially as this family is probably wealthier than all of their local friends combined. Moreover, my wife is vegetarian and my son would probably eat no more than a single hot dog.

We would like to see them when we visit, but have no intention of spending nearly $100 for backyard food under the circumstances. I suspect that most of their other friends in this area feel the same way, and their party may turn out to be a bust.

What is the most polite way to let them know that, while we and our other friends would love to see them, we don't want to pay for their party?

This is a sales opportunity, not an invitation.

“It sounds like a lot of trouble to arrange catering for the whole neighborhood, and I am afraid that we are otherwise occupied that day. Why don’t you join us for a more informal gathering at our house later in the week?” And then Miss Manners recommends that you show them what real hospitality — and not a paid event — looks like.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website,

2018, by Judith Martin