Advice | Miss Manners: We had to wait for host’s baby to wake up to start brunch

Dear Miss Manners: A friend of ours hosted a brunch for several new parents. The brunch was on a hot summer day and held squarely in the middle of morning nap time. When the five other couples arrived, we found out that the host’s baby was still asleep, and we had to sit around for 20 minutes (with hot babies in tow) waiting for the host’s baby to finish his nap.

Is this fair play or foul?

Babies not being great conversationalists at the best of times, Miss Manners would have thought 10 parents, hot babies and all, could have improvised a party on their own while young Jethro finished his nap.

Whether the resulting event would be fair or foul would, she supposes, depend on the moods of all involved — and whether sustenance was withheld pending Jethro’s arrival.

Dear Miss Manners: I am an 89-year-old lady. My daughter is taking me on my very first cruise. She insists that I must wear nail polish on my toenails if I wear open-toe sandals. I have not worn any kind of nail polish since I was in my 20s. I do not want to polish my toenails, or my fingernails, either. My toenails are neatly cut regularly by my podiatrist.

What should I tell her? She is very firm about this.

Cruises involve a lot of free time. So while Miss Manners does not want to pick a fight, she does think it would be well to establish from the start that the primary activity on this cruise will not be Telling Mama How To Behave.

If “Thank you, but I don’t like to wear nail polish” is not working, you may have to escalate to, “In my day, ladies did not do that.” Or even, “I’ll be at the bar.”

Dear Miss Manners: My husband and I own a condo at the beach with two other couples, dividing up the weeks among us. Our agreement is that, at the end of their week, each couple will leave the condo in tiptop shape — fresh sheets, scrubbed bathrooms, vacuumed carpets, etc. This has worked out well and saved enormously on cleaning fees.

During the summer months, my husband and I frequently invite friends to join us during our week. Is it appropriate to enlist the guests in the cleanup if we are all leaving the same day? Some guests have volunteered, unsolicited, to clean their bathroom and change the sheets on their bed. Others seem to be oblivious to what needs to be done after their departure. Would it be unseemly to ask them to participate in some of the cleanup activities?

It will depend on how well you know the guests and how much warning you give them.

If the guests are your husband’s boss and his third wife, you may wish to do the cleaning yourselves after they leave. If, instead, it is your kid brother with whom you have shared chores since you were teenagers, Miss Manners leaves you to it.

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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