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The Etiquette Grrls' Q & A Archive: February 2003

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I would like to know the correct way to politely request the return of a borrowed item. I have an extensive collection of books, CDs, DVDs, etc. and while visiting, friends have on occasion asked to borrow one thing or another. Now, I don't mind lending them things, but I would like for those things to be returned after a reasonable period of time! I feel a bit awkward saying, "Have you finished with x? I would like it back," and this always embarrasses people, but I can't really afford to keep replacing things that I lend to well-meaning but otherwise forgetful friends. I thought of saying "Friend Y has asked to borrow the item, and so could I please have it back," but that seems a bit disingenuous given that it would be immensely unlikely that Friend Y would even know of the item's existence given that it is not on my shelf! Is there a polite way to get my stuff back? Please help!

Neither a borrower nor a lender be

Dear Neither a borrower nor a lender be,

Isn't it awful that people don't Remember to Return Things you were kind enough to lend them?? It's just Infuriating! Dear Readers, right after you finish reading this column, make a list of Everything You Have Borrowed that you have Not Returned, and send each item back to its rightful owner, avec a Note of Apology! But the EGs digress. We think your methods of Asking for the Return of Your Property are perfectly reasonable and polite. If people are A Tad Embarrassed, it's Their Own Fault, isn't it? And as for being Disingenuous, how about something like, "I was talking about This Side of Paradise with Elizabeth, who mentioned how much she wanted to read it, and I offered to lend her my copy. But then I remembered that I loaned it to you! If you're done with it, would you mind bringing it along to class next Friday, so I can pass it along to Elizabeth later that afternoon?"

With best wishes,
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I sincerely hope you're off on a nice holiday, taking in the sun and drinking G&Ts on the beach. You deserve a vacation!

Can't wait for the new book to come out.

Your loyal reader,
Fiona

Dear Fiona,

Thanks, but we actually weren't on vacation (much as we would welcome some time in a Warm Climate... it is Unreasonably Cold Here, there is Too Much Snow on the Ground, and this is Getting Un Peu Tiresome!). We simply decided it was High Time to Revamp this site! After all, EGs.com has been around since December 1999, with the exact same look. The EGs don't keep a Hairstyle that long! So we've made some changes, and the site was down for a short time this week. The main areas of the site are back, but we've gotten so much e-mail from Dear Readers wondering where we are, that we've decided to relaunch a bit before we're done. Some of our content isn't quite ready yet (most notably our Q&A archives), but we'll be working on things feverishly to finish everything as soon as possible!

Do take a spin around the New Site and let us know what you think!

Love,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I know you receive many questions regarding food, and I am sure you are quite bored to death of the topic. However, one more time . . . please settle a serious quandary.

I have a roomate who always feels it necessary to comment on what I am eating. If he sees me eating some delicious chocolate he will shake his finger at me and say, "no-no." This really infuriates me as I by no means have a weight problem. Yet, if he sees me eating a salad he will ask why I'm on a diet. Can't one enjoy one's leafy greens? If he hears me cooking he'll race in the kitchen and ask me what I'm making and proceed to stand there and watch me. I don't know what kind of food preoccupation he has, but it's quite annoying. I've tried making comments such as, "Is my reheating left-overs from last night really so interesting?", but he does not get the drift. Is there a gracious way to tell him that his hawking my dietary consumption is not only making me self-conscious, but is just plain rude? Many thanks.

K.

Dear K.,

Here are a few suggestions:

Him: "No no! Chocolate is very fatty!"

You: "Sorry, but I didn't realize you were a Registered Dietician, here to Advise Me on Nutrition. Hey Sally (insert another roommate's name here, if you have one), did you know Bob here is a Expert on Nutrition?" (This would be the Sarcastic Approach.)

Him: "Are you on a diet?"

You: "Why do you ask?" (Repeat ad nauseam.)

or

You: "I'm sorry, but that isn't Your Concern." (Sweet smile.)

or

You: "Yes, it's the 'How to prevent other people from commenting on Your Eating Habits' Diet. Damn, it doesn't seem to be working." (More Sarcasm. The EGs rather enjoy it.)

If all else fails, Dear Reader, sit him down and tell him, directly, how much this is bugging you. You can do this in a way that is direct, but not mean. Sometimes people are so Oblivious to the Annoyances They Cause Others that they really must be told (gently and privately, of course).

We hope this helps!

Very truly yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Thanks so much for the lovely website. Not only your answers to questions, but your whole philosophy on etiquette, are exactly what I've been looking for in this rude, rude world. As soon as I stumbled upon you girls, I rushed out and bought a copy of the book for my sister's upcoming 20th birthday. She is at a point in her life when her manners are hanging in the balance (living in a dorm, dating and meeting new people), and your book will most definitely steer her in the right direction.

My question regards expressions of gratitude. This weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting my boyfriend's parents. The whole family was gathered for Mr. Boyfriend's nephew's baptism, as well as Mr. Boyfriend's brother's birthday. I had a lovely time, and would like to express this somehow to Mr. and Mrs. Parents. However, there are no thank-you notes to write, as they were not the hosts, did not pay for anything, etc. Is there a way that I can thank them for making me feel welcome and comfortable without sounding too creepy? I do not want to sound overly anxious to gain their approval.

Thank you in advance for your help.

Perplexed in the Midwest

Dear Perplexed,

Why thank you! We hope your sister enjoys TYNTBT.

Well, you could look for A Plausible Excuse to be writing to them. "Dear Mrs. Parents, I was in a Bookstore yesterday and I happened upon a copy of Pride and Prejudice... You were right, it was written after Sense and Sensibility! I guess I must have reversed them in my memory because that's the order I read them in at school. It was wonderful to meet you this weekend. I hope Boyfriend and I will see you again soon!" Or, you could simply write a very simple note saying that it was terrific to meet them, that you had a wonderful time attending the Family Events, and you look forward to seeing them again soon. That's not Creepy; that's wonderfully Polite! Any parents we know would be Charmed! Just don't include something like, "Just between us, your son and I will get married in 2004. My Psychic Friend told me so." THAT would be Creepy.

Yours truly,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

My troubles are with intrusive in-laws. I have been married to my wonderful husband for 5 months and every month since then we have had his parents spend at least 2 weekends a month at our home. In all fairness my father-in-law helps to fix things around our home (we purchased a fixer upper) and they did give us part of the down payment for the home as a wedding gift. However, when does it end? Do I need to endure this for the rest of our marriage? Most times when they “visit,” I only have a few days to prepare, not menu or cleaning, but other plans that I may have to cancel as it is important for me to be a proper hostess and entertain my mother-in-law as the men work or to otherwise include myself in the "visit." I love my in-laws they are wonderful people at heart, I just don’t feel like I am getting the quality newlywed time that I need with my husband and unfortunately he will not/has not said anything to his parents. I don’t want to make my husband feel badly in any way about his parents "visits," however I want him to understand that while I am very close to my family and they visit often they never come with a toothbrush. I feel that if this continues there will be no way to stop it down the line. What can I do if anything, so that I may have the weekends with my new husband? Also, they refer to the guestroom as “their” room and they have an overnight bag that is a fixture in the guestroom closet.

Sincerely,
Please Don’t Stay the Night!

Dear Please Don't Stay the Night,

You Poor Dear! However, our reaction to your situation is simple: You need to tell Your Husband exactly what you told us. He needs to get involved here, too. (After all, they are His Parents.) If you feel their presence is truly Affecting Your Marriage, then for God's Sake, Dear Reader, Speak Up! Furthermore, if you have Plans, you shouldn't have to change them for Guests Who Invite Themselves (no matter who they are). "Hello Annette, it's nice to see you; you'll find Jonathan in the back yard. I've got to run-- I have so much to do today! Bye! Oh, Jonathan, your mother is here... I'm off to meet Shelby for lunch!" Dear Reader, you need to put a stop to this now, or unfortunately, it will just become more of a pattern and you'll resent everyone even more.

Yours sincerely,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

What the heck are Swarovski (or however it's spelt) crystals?

Puzzled

Dear Puzzled,

In Our Opinion, they are just Pricey Rhinestone-esque Doodads which are often used in Heinous Fashion Trends, such as Crystal "Tattoos."

Hope that helps.

Love,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Our Very Polite and Generous neighbors have invited our older son on a skiing vacation again this year. Their son is an only child, and they say it is a help to them for our son to go along so their child won't be lonely. They paid for everything last year. I told my Very Kind Neighbor that our son could go again this year, but we would like to pay his way. She said that was Very Sweet and Kind of me to offer, but they planned on taking care of everything. How should we respond? Would a Very Thoughtful Thank-You Note with a gift certificate to one of their favorite restaurants be appropriate?

Desiring to Be Polite in All Circumstances

Dear Desiring to Be Polite,

Your neighbors sound Polite and Generous Indeed! A Very Thoughtful Thank-You Note is definitely Required, and it should be written by Your Son. He should also select a Small Gift for His Hostess, and send it to her. (If he can Bring It Along without Breaking It, and if it would not be a Big Deal for His Hostess to Bring Home avec Her Luggage, he may bring the gift with him on the trip. Otherwise, we would recommend having him deliver it In Person to her at Her Home.) We think this presents a Swell Opportunity for you to teach Your Son about Picking Out a Lovely Hostess Gift! And, Dear Reader, we do think a Small Gift would be a bit nicer than a Gift Certificate... it's so much nicer to Choose Something Personally.

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

How should one address the problem of a roommate who sheds like a cat, leaving long bleached-blonde strands clinging to everything, who never uses the toilet brush (!) and never cleans around the house? I would like to get rid of him, but we really need his rent money, and he is a "friend" of my beau's (HE originally asked him to move in with us).

As my beau and I are still making repayments on the furniture and appliances, I get a little upset when I realise the only money this roommate pays is for his room, although he uses everything in the house as if it were his.

Is it too late to ask him to pay more rent (he knows we are on a fixed lease for a fixed term and how much the full rent amount it)? I feel very uncomfortable talking money. What would you suggest I do?

Fondest Regards and thanks,
M.

Dear M.,

Eeeeeeeewwww! How Vile! Now, Dear Reader, your situation illustrates perfectly the EGs' Three Absolutely Essential Rules About Having Roommates:

1) As Loathsome As It Is to Discuss Housework, Cleanliness Standards, Guests, and Expenses, You Must Have a Frank Conversation With Potential Roommates About These Matters Before You Even Consider Signing a Lease (And if Possible, Put It All in Writing).

2) When You Are Choosing Roommates, Never, Ever, EVER Move In With Someone Without Knowing First-Hand How Neat and Clean They Are. (Obviously, there are some roommates, such as one's Freshman Year College Roommates, about whom you have Absolutely No Control, but you will have RA's to help you Deal With Them. In the Real World, you can't Whine to An RA about how Sally Leaves Dirty Dishes on the Living Room Floor, so you need to do some Detective Work before Signing a Lease.)

3) It Is Much Better to Have a Smaller, Not-So-Nice Apartment and Not Have to Share (or to Share It With One Roommate You Trust) Than to Take On a Lease that Stretches Your Budget and Requires You to Get a Roommate You're Not So Sure About.

Whether or not you can ask This Oaf to Pay More Money probably depends on what kind of arrangement you have with him. Have you had him Sign A Lease? If so, you probably can't Raise the Rent during the Term of the Lease. If this is an Informal Arrangement, you might have More Leeway. (However, if you're paying for Appliances and Things that you presumably will someday Own Outright, you might not want to ask for Extra Money towards them-- if Your Shedding Friend is Nastily Litigious, he might try to Exert Ownership over 1/3 of The Washing Machine and the Settee.) Honestly, if you have an Informal Arrangement, we think the best thing to do would be to Get a Better Roommate. Until that can happen, we say that you and Your Beau need to have a Frank Discussion avec The Shedder about Cleanliness. (And, hmmm, if Your Beau doesn't think you should Kick Him Out if Things Don't Improve, just because the two of them are Friends, then we think Your Beau needs to take over Shedder Dude's Share of the Housework.)

Very truly yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

What is the proper way to turn down a job offer? Should it be in person, or will a phone call be appropriate? What kind of information should I give the employer regarding why I am not accepting the job.

One Who Wishes to Refuse

Dear One Who Wishes to Refuse,

We would do it In Writing. A short Business Letter should suffice:

Dear Potential Employer You Don't Want to Work For,

While I enjoyed discussing XYZ Corporation and the position of Assistant to the Assistant Assistant Manager with you and Mr. Boss, and while I appreciate your offering me the position, I feel that the job is not the best fit for me at this time. I regret to inform you that I must decline the offer of employment.

Sincerely yours,
Jane Jobseeker

(Why not do it In Person or Over the Phone? We think situations like this are best handled without a lot of Conversation. You simply Don't Want to Work There; you don't need to go into the Gory Details of Why You Don't Want to Work There. Better not to give the Potential Employer the chance to question you, lest you say something that might burn a bridge for you later. "Well, actually, Potential Employer, Mr. Boss struck me as Quite the Jerk, and it would be a Cold Day in Hell before I work with Someone Like Him.")

Yours truly,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Cheres EGs,

I would like to thank you for your wonderful Web site and tell you that it provides much education and entertainment as a trudge through each dreary day at work. And I wonder if you can help me with a problem.

I share a large cubicle with three other people, and I often eat my lunch at my desk (a common practice in our office) because the cafeteria is very small. Each day around lunch time, one of my cubicle-mates turns to me and says, "Hi Petunia. What do you have for lunch today?" And when I answer, for instance, "A ham and cheese sandwich," he inevitably responds, "Oh, you like ham and cheese?" Dear EGs, this is driving me mad! Firstly, why must he greet me each time? Secondly, why does he insist on inquiring what I'll be eating? Does he want some? Does he hope I'll offer it to him? And that final question is so unnecessary. Of course I like it, otherwise I wouldn't be eating it!

Is there a polite way to respond to him? He is a very nice man, and I certainly don't want to be rude, but I'm tired of answering his questions. Please help.

Petunia

Dear Petunia,

Aren't Repetitive Silly Questions the Worst? One could always say something Sarcastic, like, "Food," but if Your Interrogator is indeed a Nice Man, you really shouldn't do that. We'd recommend saying something like, "Filet Mignon, Haricots Verts, and I will soon be enjoying an Absolutely Divine Crème Brulee. [Slight pause.] And I LOVE it. [Big smile.] Oh, Bob, you always ask me what I'm eating, and I can guarantee I'll never have anything interesting to tell you, since it's just plain old lunch at my desk. Let's talk about something else. So, have you seen any good movies lately?" Hopefully he will get the message, if you play it off like this, and quit asking you. He's probably just someone who doesn't understand how to Make Interesting Conversation and might need a bit of encouragement in the right direction. If the dumb questions persist, well, you could try eating in the Cafeteria, instead of at your desk, even if the Cafeteria is small. Or perhaps there's a nearby place, like a Sunny Park Bench, outside your office where you could Escape for A Quick Bite when the weather is nice...

Best wishes,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I am in the process of looking for my first apartment. I have been advised to open cupboards, look under sinks, flush toilets, etc., so as to maximize the possibility that I'll find anything that is wrong with the property. However, I have also been informed that landlords occasionally show prospective tenants an apartment while it is occupied by the current tenant. If I find myself in this situation, can I still poke around and check for plumbing problems or signs of infestation? Or am I required to conduct myself as though I were a guest in their home?

Also, would it be appropriate to contact the current tenants and ask them if they have had any problems with the apartment or landlord? I know this practice is very common in the student housing where I've lived to date, but I'm not sure if it would be intrusive in real life.

Thank you for your time,
Jessica

Dear Jessica,

Well, you certainly wouldn't need to go Poking Through Their Drawers, or Perusing a File Marked "Personal Papers" if the current tenant leaves it on her desk, but definitely, you should check the things that will remain in the apartment after the tenant leaves. Presumably the Tenant Herself went through this experience when she was Apartment-Hunting, so she should understand that you're not trying to Pry.

As for contacting the Current Tenant... well, we're not so sure about that. If you know someone who knows her and could introduce you, that would probably be fine. However, if the EGs weren't renewing the lease on the Etiquette Flat, we wouldn't be too keen on Total Strangers calling us up and pumping us for information about The Etiquette Landlord. If the tenant is there and says, "If you have any questions, I'm Betsy Clark, and my phone number's in the book," then sure, go ahead and call her, but otherwise, the most we might do would be to ask the Landlord if he'd mind putting us in touch with the current tenant so we could ask a few questions. And we might not even do that. People have Extraordinarily Different Concepts of What Makes For a Good Landlord... EGL once had an Upstairs Neighbor who warned her that the Landlord was going to "Try to Slime [Her] into agreeing to things." Not only did this not ever happen, EGL's Landlord being the Nicest Landlord EVER, but this Upstairs Neighbor proved to be a Horrible Tenant. Her hobby was Calling the Fire Department. During the two years EGL lived in That Apartment, this tenant called the Fire Department FIVE times, once summoning the Haz-Mat Team, for No Good Reason! Imagine if EGL had listened to Someone Like Her before renting and forsaken a Lovely, Light-Filled, Beautiful Apartment!

Good luck with your Apartment-Hunting!

Yours sincerely,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Hello! I would like to sincerely thank you for the good work you are doing to make our world a better (and more civilized) place. I am very sick and tired of people asking me how much things of mine cost; obviously they have not yet been enlightened to proper etiquette regarding such matters. Recently, however, people have been asking me my grades and becoming rude or mocking when I do not wish to tell them (and it is not because my grades are not good, they are, in fact, quite good). I think it is the same thing as asking how much something cost and that it is very rude. People I have spoken with don't seem to agree, and I am looking for some confirmation.

Thank you very much!
Very Aggravated

Dear Very Aggravated,

You're absolutely right-- Your Grades are Nobody Else's Business. Grades are a Personal Thing and, to be honest, a Rather Boring Conversational Topic, and you are under Absolutely No Obligation to Divulge Them. People who try to get you to reveal them are just Insecure and/or Jealous, and you definitely Need Not Appease Them. (The Same Thing goes for Standardized Test Scores, Your IQ, etc.)

Yours very sincerely,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Girls,

I read lots of your wedding archive questions and I must say that a lot of my questions were answered regarding the etiquette of weddings and engagements. However, one problem still remains.

My fiancée and I were engaged about four months ago after a one-year courtship. My fiancée has chosen her two older sisters to be the maids of honor because they are her best friends, but now the situation is becoming very volatile considering the youngest sister was engaged first. In fact, in consolation for not getting engaged before us, the oldest sister and her boyfriend bought a house together. Sister two quickly followed suit and bought a house with her beau. Recently, the second sister's boyfriend kindly asked the oldest sister's boyfriend if he could pop the question first and they agreed that it was okay. So he asked the second sister to marry him last weekend... she said yes, and to my fiancée's dismay, asked a friend of one year (also the groom-to-be's ex-girlfriend) to be her bridesmaid. It seems that the clock is ticking and the older sisters are rushing to get engaged/married and there is no doubt in my mind that the recent activity in the realm of purchasing real estate and engagement has been in response to the "youngest getting engaged first."

So here's the problem: We have already scheduled our date for eight months from now, but are now worried that the second sister is going to try to schedule her wedding for a month or two before ours. She hasn't discussed this with us, but she did mention it to the older sister... the oldest sister defended our date and told the second sister that she shouldn't get married before us. They ended up in a large shouting match with the oldest crying and the second bitterly yelling (so I heard).

The problem is, we'd rather she not get married right before us because we are putting a tremendous amount of time and effort into our wedding and the second sister "doesn't care" about her wedding. To make things worse, the oldest sister has actually reserved a location for next year even though she is not engaged. The oldest sister is very vocal and would kick and scream if the second sister get married around her date next year.... So that leaves the second sister in a spot where she will get married right before us.

I understand that it is a sticky situation, but I don't want these girls to do anything rash or anything that can't be resolved. I also don't think anybody should "tell" one or the other what to do, but I see feeling getting hurt, especially my fiancée's, which breaks my heart. They are sisters and they should be able to talk about this, but they're not. I am really, really worried that the second sister is going to simply step in and throw her wedding right before ours without even considering my fiancée's feelings (or mine) without even discussing it. What makes me even more upset is the fact that I encouraged her boyfriend to propose sooner than later, so it seems that this is the thanks we get. My fiancée has always been the most down to earth, the sweetest, kindest, and the glue between the three, and now I think that the second sister could really hurt her feelings.

I don't even thing this e-mail is asking a question... but maybe some insight would help.

U

Dear U,

First of all, congratulations on your Engagement! We hope you and your fiancée will be very happy. Now, listen to the EGs.

EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE, no matter who gets married when, who proposes when, etc. Even if your fiancée's sister gets married the Very Day Before You, Your Wedding is going to be a Unique, Lovely Celebration. We have always thought that Engaged Couples really shouldn't get possessive about Wedding Dates— we've heard from several people who got all Bent Out of Shape because another couple in their Circle of Friends DARED announce their engagement shortly after they did, or DARED schedule their wedding at the Same Church, for the Same Month... and that's pretty Selfish. Just because you're getting married doesn't mean the Rest of the World isn't allowed to get engaged or married, too. We don't really think that's where you're coming from— it sounds like you genuinely want to try to avoid potential conflict within Your Fiancée's Family-- but we want to reiterate those Important Things, just in case a tiny bit of possessiveness is any factor. You mention that you are putting a lot of effort and thought into Your Wedding, and this will be obvious to everyone who attends it, no matter what your Fiancée's Sisters do. Honestly, if the Second Sister has a Haphazardly-Planned Wedding right before yours, yours will only seem more lovely in comparison. It sounds as if they may be Rushing Into Things for The Wrong Reasons— for heaven's sake, we can understand sisters trying to one-up each other about Silly Things, like Who Has Cooler Shoes, but to do something on the scale of Getting Married or Buying a House just to be Competitive strikes us as Pretty Damn Short-Sighted. So go on with Your Own Plans, and don't worry about them one bit.

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I love your book! Your website is Fabulous as well. My question concerns hair style and color. This has been the topic of many discussions among friends (guys and gals). What is the color of choice for the classy girl— Blond or Brunette? Long or short? Curly or straight? Now that we are post-college and in our careers our image is very important in the professional world. We are blessed with the opportunity to be able to frequent the salons, and we are asked the dreadful question: "What do you want done today?" Now not everyone's taste is the same, and you want a color/cut that will be flattering to you, and not what the hairstylist thinks is "in"! Any advice you can give in this topic will be greatly appreciated. I feel you are a valuable source!

Thank You in Advance,
In Search

Dear In Search,

Well, naturally, Rule Number One is that There Is No One Style, Cut, Color, Texture, etc. that Works On Everyone. But Rule Number Two is that everyone can achieve a Classic, Lovely Hairstyle-- it just takes a little Experimenting to Get It Right. First, find a Stylist who understands what you're looking for. This means the Stylist has to Listen to You. Always, ALWAYS have a Consultation First, and be specific: if you hate, for example, little wispy bits of hair near your face, or if you don't have time to Blow-Dry every day, you should mention this. If the Stylist, for Whatever Reason, doesn't bother to listen to What You Have to Say, but pulls some sort of Diva-esque Act, pronouncing, "No, you MUST have a Pixie Cut, because I give EVERYONE a Pixie Cut, and it MUST be Platinum!" then run, do not walk, for the Door. As for the Particular Color or Texture or Length, well, Dear Reader, pretty much anything can work, as long as it looks Healthy and Believably Natural. (For example, some of our Dear Friends have hair that is Naturally Very Curly, and it looks great-- but if someone tried to mimic that by Getting a Really Tight Perm, it would probably not be so Successful.)

A few more tips:

- Go Minimal with the Hair Accessories. One nice barrette looks pretty. Fifty of them look bizarre.
- On the subject of Hair Accessories, Scrunchies really don't do much for anyone. A regular barrette looks infinitely better.
- Do-it-yourself haircolor should be Approached With Caution. Do-it-yourself Highlights, even more so. Unless you're a Skilled Painter, an Experienced Chemist, and you don't mind having hair dye staining all your towels, this is probably best left to a Professional.
- Very, very short and very, very long hair are tough to pull off.
- We know a lot of people, with vastly different hair types, facial shapes, and Senses of Style, and Bobs work on all of them.

We hope that helps!

Cheers,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dearest Etiquette Grrls,

At the risk of sounding like a Egotistical Brat, I am In Need of Guidance. I am a student at a institute of primarily male population. As the female population is somewhat in decline and the majority of those in attendance are unaware of the Foulness of "Scrubbing" it, I have begun to receive a good deal of Unwanted Male Attention. What is the best way to say, "I Appreciate Your Friendship but Stop Touching Me. Now."? Also how does one skirt the question "Do you have a boyfriend?" when one is "Involved"?

Most Appreciatively Yours,
Does Not Like Being Pawed

Dear Does Not Like Being Pawed,

As for Fending Off Unwanted Suitors, the way you've phrased it seems Just Perfect, Dear Reader! (And we wouldn't hesitate to Drive the Point Home avec a Good, Swift Kick in the Shins if the fellow is Obnoxiously Persistent. Chivalric Boys do not "Paw" Girls. And Girls should not, under ANY circumstances, stand for such a thing!)

Regarding your second question, we suppose we are to take "Involved" as "Seeing Each Other, but not Officially Referring To Ourselves as Boyfriend-and-Girlfriend," right? We'd probably not use the word "Involved" for that, which does sort of imply that there is an Actual Relationship in Existence. Why not just say, "I'm Seeing Someone"?

Best wishes,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I have a male friend at work whom I have known for more than two years. We have come into the habit of exchanging holiday and birthday gifts at work. This past Christmas, I received a message from him stating that he would be bringing my gift the following day. Because of scheduling conflicts, we were not able to do a traditional exchange, so I dropped his gift off at his house and assumed he would let me know when he was able to bring me mine. Well, I never received it. He loved his gift, we talked about it, he said thank you, but no mention of my gift has been made since Christmas, and here it is, the middle of February. Needless to say, it is still on my mind. I feel like bringing it up now would only make the situation awkward and that I should just pretend he never said anything. I certainly do not expect gifts from him, but since he said one existed, I am a little bit perplexed. Do you agree that bringing it up now would not be the proper thing to do?

Thank you,
J.

Dear J.,

Yes. If you ask about it now, it will look Un Peu Greedy. Chances are, he's simply forgotten about it, and sometime in the middle of the summer, he'll open his closet, and a Festively-Wrapped Christmas Present will fall down off the shelf he mistakenly put it on when he was rushing to clean up his apartment right before Christmas, and land squarely on his head. (Let's hope he didn't get you a Bowling Ball, or a Big Chunk of Lead.) He'll then feel Extremely Embarrassed, and present it to you avec Profuse Apologies for Having Forgotten. Even if that doesn't happen, it's better to just let this one slide.

Yours truly,
The Etiquette Grrls

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Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Do you have any guidelines regarding public displays of affection?

I recently attended a small poetry reading in a friend's home and a husband and wife that were also in attendance seemed a bit too affectionate for my taste. They sat together on a sofa during the reading, and the wife kept her hand on his thigh while he often lightly massaged the back of her neck.

Is this appropriate?

Thanks in advance for any advice you may have,
Mildly Concerned

Dear Mildly Concerned,

Good Lord, NO! Engaging in a Public Display of Affection (P.D.A.) is not allowed at Poetry Readings! In fact, all one should do at Poetry Readings is Wear Black, Adopt a Morose-Yet-Contemplative Expression, Partake of Cheap-O Red Wine, Ponder Curious Similes, and wonder why there hasn't been anyone as cool as Wallace Stevens or Robert Lowell for a Damn Long Time. One does not Chit-Chat, Fidget, or, Horrors, Engage in P.D.A.!! But then again, it has always been the EGs' Firm Belief that P.D.A. is inappropriate Absolutely Everywhere.

Very sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

When, oh, when, is your second book coming out? I know quite a few soon-to-be college graduates for whom it would make a very useful present, if it's in the same spirit as your first volume. Please advise!

A Dear Reader

Dear Dear Reader,

Why, it's so much in the Spirit of Our First Volume, it's called More Things You Need to Be Told! Tee, hee! But in it, we cover so many more subjects than we had Space For in TYNTBT. Its publication date is June 15, 2003— right around Graduation Season. We'll be posting more information in the coming months... thanks for asking!

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Let's say one's city has received, say, two and a half feet of snow. Let's also say one has a sidewalk in front of one's house. One does have to shovel it, does one not? I did my front walk, but my next-door neighbors did not do theirs, and I think that's pretty inconsiderate. Isn't it?

Snowed Under

Dear Snowed Under,

Hell, yes. (And may the EGs just say that we have Had It Avec Snow for the Time Being?) If one has a Sidewalk, and it Snows, one must shovel it. If the Sidewalk gets Icy, one should spread Salt or Sand upon it. Furthermore, if one shovels one's own Sidewalk, and one's Neighbors shovel theirs, the two Shoveled Sidewalks should actually meet. The EGs really, really hate it when we are trying to Walk to the Train Station and we must Hurdle Giant Snowbanks that "happen" to fall between Obvious Property Lines! As irritating as it is to shovel snow, it's really NOT going to kill anyone to shovel a Few More Feet and make things easier for the Pedestrians!

Down with snow,
The Etiquette Grrls

 

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