Advice | Miss Manners: Restaurant patron’s sagging pants offended me

Dear Miss Manners: At a restaurant, I was attempting to enjoy a meal with friends while taking in the beautiful ocean view. When I glanced to my right, I saw that the guy at the table next to us was wearing low-hanging shorts that revealed his butt. He was a young guy and appeared to be with family. Restaurants don’t seem to have dress codes or refuse service to customers not dressed in a decent manner.

We had already ordered and were waiting for our meal when I first noticed the guy. So I said, in a voice that the customers next to me could hear, that I could see his butt — how disgusting when you’re in public. The family ignored me, so I repeated my statement again, a little louder. My friends said I should just not look. But I’m single and always monitor my surroundings to stay safe.

Finally, the mom (I assume) came over and said very quietly that I should have just come over to their table quietly to express myself. Then she went back to their table and told him, not in a quiet tone, to pull his shorts up, and he did comply.

I don’t want to see anyone’s butt at the meal table. I don’t feel it’s my place to say anything, but it would have been unsafe for me not to be aware of my surroundings. How would you recommend handling this situation if it happens again? It was a mood-killer for me.

Yes, it is unsavory to mix unsolicited nude sightings with lunch. But Miss Manners notices that you twice mentioned safety and monitoring your surroundings. Having properly identified it, what exactly did you think the butt was going to do to you?

In any case, the mother was correct: Discreetly coming over to her table would have been far more polite than making a scene. Or you could have told a restaurant employee. Because having publicly announced your displeasure in a loud voice — twice! — no one believes that you really thought it “not your place to say anything.” You just chose not to do it directly, which no doubt resulted in a mood-killer for the rest of the restaurant.

Dear Miss Manners: I’m a 32-year-old electrical engineer. My high school physics teacher passed away recently and, as you may imagine, he played a massive role in my pursuing a career in engineering.

I never met his wife or kids, and I live overseas, which meant I couldn’t attend the funeral and meet them there. I would like to send them a handwritten letter, but I’m not sure what to say. I believe it’s partly thanks to him that I’m very successful in my field and I have an overall happy life, but I don’t want to gloat. Should I just tell them he inspired me and that he will be missed, or should I add more?

Attributing your success to this teacher’s guidance is not boastful; it is appreciative and charming. As long as you do not turn the letter into a personal resume — or financial disclosure — and keep it focused on your mentor’s role in your flourishing career, Miss Manners thinks it relevant and proper.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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