Dear Mister Tactless

In which the curmudgeonly Mister Tactless responds to actual questions published by Miss Manners, but with more pragmatic advice using less ink.

DEAR MISTER TACTLESS: I was standing at the curb in front of a restaurant, and my attention was more focused on the parking lot than the front door, approximately 15 feet away from me. An older woman walked up to the door and said pointedly in my direction, “In my day, young men were expected to open doors for their elders.”

I do make a point of opening doors for ladies, the elderly, the disabled, people carrying or pushing things, etc., when I am passing through a door at nearly the same time as them, or am standing close to the door for some other reason.

Presumably, if I had been standing at the other side of the parking lot, I would not have been expected to sprint over to open the door. But at what distance am I required to move to the door to open it for someone if I am not already within arm’s length of it?

CLUELESS READER: You are not required to open a door for anybody. It’s nice to hold it open for someone who’s right behind you and that’s about it. It’s a favor, and people don’t get to tell you when you owe them a favor. And when’s the last time anybody opened a door for you? The world doesn’t owe people open doors.

DEAR MISTER TACTLESS: My fiance and I are getting married in a small backyard ceremony this fall. Friends of mine are getting married two weeks later, and have sent us a save-the-date announcement for their large wedding.

We had not planned on inviting them to our wedding, but are now feeling like we should reciprocate. What is the proper thing to do?

CLUELESS READER: Whatever you want. Weddings are not economic transactions. You don’t owe anybody an invitation.

DEAR MISTER TACTLESS: I am invited to a 50th birthday luncheon for a girlfriend, and the invite says, “no gifts, please.” What can I do instead?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Show up, eat your lunch, and say “Happy Birthday.” What part of “no gifts” did you not understand?

C’mon, that’s hardly tactless. You need to up your game:

Clueless reader, get up in that old lady’s face and explain to her that unless both her arms are broken, she can open the damn door for her own useless ass.

Clueless reader, this is a delicate situation, but there is only one thing you need to consider: will that wedding have an open bar?

I would read a Dear Mister Tactless column in my local paper. Miss Manners occasionally has a snarky tone, but an even spicier outlook would be appreciated.

Appropriate answer to the complaining old broad: “Bite me, lady.”

I’m of the opinion that you should hold the door.


Dear Mr. Tactless: My husband never puts the toilet seat down when he is finished. Whatever can I do?

Clueless Reader: When was the last time you left the toilet seat UP when you were finished?

I put some thought into what tone I wanted to take. At first I thought something like, “In your day, you were a bitch.” But I actually wanted to go for an earnest answer, rather than National Lampoon humor.* I wanted something that was actually valid advice, and have the humor come from the contrast to Miss Manners’ hoity-toity answers.

They once did a rewrite of Winston Churchill stories. Churchill was at a dinner party, and Lady Nancy Astor said, “Winston, if you were my husband, I’d poison your tea.” And Churchill said, “Fuck off, bitch.”

“Lady, nowadays slavery has been abolished.”

Ah, then you wanted to create ‘Mister Subtle Contrast’. Your thread, but I think a full on ‘Mister Tactless’ would be the crowd pleaser here. I still like the idea.

Maybe “Mister Down To Earth.” But I didn’t want to be “Mister Fuck This and Bullshit That.” Too easy.

Too easy, but more fun.

I think “tackless” is the wrong description here. Maybe “Ask Mr. Reasonable.”

Well, in her day, it wasn’t just a favor but social custom and one of those things that defined a gentleman–not that it was EVER expected that a man would rush 15 feet to hold open a door for a woman. He’d never get down the block were that the case.

Since those days are gone, his response should have been, “I was waiting for you to open it for me.”

Be careful with that one! “Bite me,” slips so trippingly off the tongue as an all-purpose response that it’s a habit that is hard to break.

I ain’t touching a public doorknob or handle for anyone. Too many germs. I have trouble enough opening a door for myself. Good-luck old lady.

Another installment in which the curmudgeonly Mister Tactless responds to actual questions published by Miss Manners, but with more pragmatic advice using less ink.

DEAR MISTER TACTLESS: My friend got me a job at the company where she works – a temp job for a few months’ time. It was a real help for me, and I don’t know what I would have done otherwise.

My friend is acting as my boss, and she is generally very nice. However, she told me that although she is my boss, I make more than her, and she feels pretty bad about it. I told her I was shocked to hear that and that they should pay her more, but I didn’t know what else to say.

Now I’m feeling terribly guilty and have an impulse to send her money, but I’m afraid if I did, it would be a passive-aggressive move. Is there anything else that can be done? I will be out of here soon anyway, and unemployed again.

CLUELESS READER: Never, ever, ever offer your boss money. Sometime employees earn more than their boss, and she was a bitch to say she feels bad about it. This is not your problem, it’s your boss’s, but unfortunately this could fuck up your friendship. But it’s not your fault. Good riddance.

DEAR MISTER TACTLESS: This afternoon, my spouse asked me to text our new roommate the location of the thermostat so he could turn on the air conditioner while we were out. I tried to, but accidentally sent the text to a completely different person (the dog groomer). I sent another text to her explaining the previous text should be ignored, and sent the original text on to the intended recipient.

But this got me wondering: Is there a specific etiquette rule on what to do if a message is sent to the wrong person? This text was innocuous, but I sometimes send racier texts to my spouse. What if one of those went astray?

CLUELESS READER: Wait. You’re married and have a roommate? Weird flex but OK. Anyway, “Sorry, texted to wrong person, please delete.” You are overthinking this. Before texting, we used to just say, “Sorry, wrong number!” and hang up. Same thing. Oh, and racy? It may be a little harder to wiggle out of, “I can’t wait to fuck your brains out tonight.”

DEAR MISTER TACTLESS: Are you required to invite the grandparents of the bride and groom to the rehearsal dinner?

CLUELESS READER: Rehearsal dinners are for the wedding party. And you never have to invite anyone to anything who you don’t want to. But ask yourself how many people you’ll piss off if you don’t invite them and how long people will talk shit behind your back after the wedding.

Ever considered some people either don’t have much money, live in expensive areas, or both? Yes, it is odd to me (I live in a low cost of living area), but it’s a necessity for some. For others it’s the difference between paycheck to paycheck and being able to save a little.

Well, let’s not get too serious here. But to me “roommate” means “someone who shares a room.” I can see a married couple sharing a house with someone else but I expect to hear “housemate” for that situation. Three people in a one bedroom apartment would be unusual, although I don’t live in a high-density urban area so who knows.

Really? A roommate to me is someone who shares [a set of ] room[s]. Like Jack, Janet, and Chrissy were all roommates.

Housemates is not a term I have ever heard in real life, as far as I can recall.