Does Miss Manners Wear a Mask?

Not sure, haven’t seen the old gal, but I did find a story in the Washington Post recently that quoted her and several other etiquette experts, all of whom offered recommendations to help us politely navigate these troubled times. Indeed, our days are far more deadly now because of the delta variant and deadlier still because we’re not all fighting the same foe. Some of us are fighting the virus; the rest of us are fighting each other.

Nevertheless, there are general vaccine manners, according to the Post. One of the experts, Steve Petrow, an author of five books on etiquette, says, etiquette is fundamentally about we and not me. Listen up WE people. You ME people might want to listen too; you’re the ones catching and spreading the virus.

How can I politely ask someone if they’ve been vaccinated? Public health experts agree that you have a right to ask questions that are relevant to your own health. Miss Manners says the kindest thing to do is volunteer that information.

But what do you do if they remain mum? Miss Manners says don’t pry. That leaves spying, which often requires surveillance, stalking, eaves dropping, and brow beating. The most mannerly way to conduct those activities is to avoid getting caught.

Is it rude to post a vaccine selfie on social media? The experts claim motive matters. Are you doing so as a public service or gloating? Posting falsehoods about the vaccines is entirely appropriate? That’s Freedom of Speech.

Is it rude to go maskless in public after being vaccinated? Come on, guys, many states are requiring masks again because of the delta variant. As a result, not wearing a mask is often a violation of the law and a political statement. You must assume then that the bare faced fellow behind you is an anti-vaxxer who believes in hoaxes. Rude, too?  Assume he is. Don’t wait to see if he shows up at your hospital bed with flowers. If he ends up in the hospital bed next to you? No, you don’t have to ask him, “How are we feeling today?”

If you have a friend or relative who is behaving irresponsibly, in other words, not getting a vaccine, what should you do? All the experts say don’t sermonize, don’t get in their face – for sure, they might be contagious – and be respectful. Try to be positive. Share your experiences. This seems a little Pollyannish to me. If an anti-vaxxer ridicules you when you tell him how much you enjoyed the prick – the needle, that is – just smile. Tell him you’re smiling, otherwise he won’t see your smile; you’re wearing a mask. That’s the only way he’ll know you’re patronizing him. That’s the polite way of letting him know he’s a moron.

Should I let friends or family who have not been vaccinated in my house? No, you shouldn’t. Miss Manners recommends several ways of remaining positive, but slamming the door in their face, bare face, is much more efficient.

How can I host a small gathering, so everyone is comfortable?  Limit the guest list to me, myself, and I.

Should I go to Texas? No. Florida maybe, you can at least wear scuba gear there for protection. Goggles at the Alamo? If the Texas governor won’t allow masks, he certainly won’t allow goggles. You simply won’t be safe in Texas.

What is the guidance for mannerly dining out? Wear a mask when not eating or drinking. And chew with your mouth closed.

Can I ask a host whether other people at an event will be vaccinated? Sure, but don’t assume you’ll get the truth. So, masks and a Hazmat suit are entirely appropriate.

If you find these suggestions difficult, stay inside until Halloween when masks are normally worn. But be careful to whom you say trick or treat.

If this surge – what number are we on? Four? –  isn’t over by Christmas, it will be entirely appropriate to scream instead of caroling.

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