On a recent vacation trip to a far away place, I stayed in the home of a good friend and colleague.Â While I was there, another professional colleague called my host and insisted on knowing with whom I was traveling and what the sleeping arrangements were.Â My host was, of course, perfectly proper, and we all had a good laugh about it.Â My question is, am I entitled to include this story when recounting my travels either to friends or to colleagues?Â May I tell the story in the inquiring colleague’s presence if I don’t actually name him?
Dear Traveling Man:Â
Etiquetteer commends the discretion of your host in not divulging any of his domestic details; clearly it was None of a Busybodyâ€™s Business.Â
No one loves a good story more than Etiquetteer, and this does indeed sound like a very good one! But even so, itâ€™s more Perfectly Proper to keep this one to yourself. Good stories have a way of traveling on their own, picking up extra embellishments along the way. Should the original Busybody ever hear of it, which is more of a Possibility than most people care to consider, it would only reflect badly on your host having divulged a confidential conversation.
Stories of This Sort are best Filed for Future Reference. Thanks to your host, youâ€™ve just learned an important characteristic of your Busybody professional colleague that can help you evaluate his reactions in professional settings.Â
Etiquetteer has been doing his best not to get too involved in the 2008 political campaigns and resulting candidate faux pas. Etiquetteer feels sure that Barack Obama hasnâ€™t done much to court the Militant Feminist Vote, but he made a SERIOUS misstep last week by referring to WXYZ-TV reporter Peggy Agar as â€śsweetie.â€ť Terms of Endearment are, by definition, those we use with people who are close to us. And while we all know how close politicians like to be to the press during campaigns, â€śsweetieâ€ť is TOO close. Another way for men to gauge their behavior: if you wouldnâ€™t say it to a man, you cannot say it to a woman.Â
Etiquetteer was horrified to read in the Duluth News Tribune on May 10 about an insensitive lawsuit. Jeffery Ely hit a dog with his car, killing it. He then sued the dogâ€™s owners, Niki and Daniel Munthe, for damages to his car. No matter how wronged one feels in such a situation, no matter how justified, oneâ€™s own sense of Perfect Propriety should prevent one from filing such a lawsuit. Honestly! What was he thinking? â€śYour dog dented my car as I was running it over so you should pay to fix my car?â€ť Clearly Mr. Ely cares more about money than his reputation OR the feelings of others.
From the â€śChildren Must Be Seen and Not Heardâ€ť Department, Etiquetteer was delighted to hear that the Red Thai Restaurant of Portland, Oregon, has begun banning children younger than six years of age from its establishment. If more parents knew how to control their â€śprecious snowflakesâ€ť in public such a ban might not be necessary. After hearing from a colleague that she saw a woman breast-feeding* her infant at a theatre performance (!) Etiquettteer understands that parents donâ€™t understand where their children are welcome and where they are not. It is insensitive to others in the audience to bring a babe in arms to a live concert or performance where they could start howling any moment. It is equally rude to dine at a â€śgrown-upâ€ť restaurant with young children who havenâ€™t yet been taught to use inside voices, silverware, or to keep their seats. Parents of Young Children, take note!Â
*You may be surprised to learn that Etiquetteer has no trouble at all with breastfeeding in public. This necessary function can be handled discreetly and modestly in restaurants, vehicles, and other public places. But in places of assembly, such as theatres, concert halls, or churches, it distracts too much from the program one is supposed to be watching.