Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

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Advice on manners and morals.
March 18 2004 11:21 AM

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

The etiquette of approaching celebrities.


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Dear Prudie,

I have a particularly Hollywood question, though it also applies to general etiquette. I was at a party in a nightclub when I saw one of the very few actors I have a crush on. It wasn't Johnny Depp or George Clooney or anyone who gets bombarded day and night. This actor is so low-profile, he had to wait outside the club longer than we did, and trust me, we're nobodies. Still, he's handsome and gets such witty, intelligent parts I would have hated myself for several weeks if I hadn't at least attempted to introduce myself and be (hopefully) charming. He wasn't with a date, and he wasn't trying to have a meal in peace; we were in a nightclub. I thought it would be fine to try to say hello. So, he's speaking with another man in a desultory fashion (nothing that seemed important, just killing time). I stood by his elbow with a pleasant smile on my face waiting for a break in the conversation so as not to interrupt. It didn't happen. The minutes ticked by. Five. Maybe seven. Way too long. So here are my questions: 1) Am I the jerk for trying to introduce myself? 2) Is he the jerk for not at least pretending that we are all equally human and acknowledging me? 3) Once it becomes clear the person with whom you're trying to speak has no interest in making your acquaintance, what's a graceful way to extricate yourself? Prudie, I was mortified.


Dear Bash,

You don't sound all that bashful to Prudie, but neither did you do anything wrong. One might reasonably imagine that a "low-profile" actor might be grateful for a fan coming over. Apparently this one was not. 1) You were not out of line to try to say hello. 2) He was being self-important, or whatever the opposite of "humble" is, not to acknowledge you. 3) There is probably no graceful way to extricate yourself from being ignored once you've stood at someone's elbow for seven minutes. Walking away is the best you can do. And you are correct that hanging around for longer than a minute is way too long.


—Prudie, acceptably

Dear Pru,

What do you think about people who invite you over for a social gathering, only to get you to their doorstep and politely direct you to take off your shoes—without explanation—but presumably so you won't soil their carpet or scratch their floors? Is this acceptable behavior? I personally find it offensive and ridiculous. Either buy carpet that will stand up to foot traffic, or don't invite people over. This has happened to me several times (different hosts). I am uncomfortable barefooted on cold hard-wood floors, and I don't particularly care for my unattractive feet being exposed without warning. Believe me, I am not unsympathetic to their plight, as I myself have light-colored carpet. (I just get regular carpet cleanings and spot-clean if I do get a stain.) Is it too much to ask to keep your shoes on when socializing, or should I suck it up and resign myself to carrying a pair of tube socks in my car for situations like this?

—Cold Feet in Houston

Dear Cold,

Prudie can think of two occasions when "remove your shoes" is a proper "request": If the party is in Japan or the hosts are offering pedicures. Asking guests to check their shoes at the door is not the most hospitable or gracious way to entertain. However, if the rest of the party components seem worthwhile (the other guests, ambience), give the crazy-clean hosts the benefit of the doubt and doff your shoes. Carrying tube sox is actually a good idea, assuming you wish to socialize with such fussy people. Pragmatically, your decision is between tube sox and declining the invitation.  


—Prudie, optionally

Dear Prudence,

I have been dating this guy for two years, and our relationship is great except for one thing. He is a mama's boy to the point that it's DISGUSTING! He is 22 and still lives at home with his mom. To him, she is the greatest person who ever walked this planet. I feel like I don't measure up, and to top it off, I don't even like the woman. My boyfriend feels he has to include her in everything we do as a couple because her husband (his stepdad) treats her like dirt. But that is only because he feels the same way I do ... like he is in a competition. My boyfriend and I have talked about getting married, but he has come right out and said he is gonna live with his mother for the rest of his life. Well, that just won't work for me, and he is not compromising at all. I mean, this situation is so bad, people have commented that they act like they are married to each other! Please explain this situation so I can understand everyone's point of view here. 


Dear Re,

It is a slight mystery how you can say you're in a "great relationship," save for the fact that your fella is a mama's boy who's vowed he will live with her forever. (This brings to mind Truman Capote's wonderful remark, "It was a great party—if you've never been to a party before.") This setup is wildly unhealthy, and you should run, not walk, out of this horror show. The mother is nuts, her son is damaged goods, and the stepfather is striking back. If there weren't laws, this mother and son would most likely marry each other. It is very depressing that this woman has fixed it so her son will never have anything approximating a grown-up life, or even a life of his own. If Prudie has not given you everyone's point of view, she has certainly given you her own.


—Prudie, swiftly

Dear Prudie,

I am a man in my late 20s married to a wonderful lady in her mid-30s. We have a 2-year-old. I work in a large office building and will often go to lunch with my co-workers. For the last three months or so, I have been going to lunch everyday with a very attractive (married) younger lady. We would go once a week, then twice, now it's everyday. I am very attracted to her, and I know she is attracted to me. We have also gone out to dinner and to have drinks on several occasions. We have fun, and I have even taken my son with us on those occasions that we meet on weekends. We have had no sexual relations, but have held each other. I have no plans to leave my wife. Please help; is this an affair?


Dear G.,

For Pete's sake, young man, are you dense or disingenuous? Your situation is not unlike the girl who permits everything but the textbook definition of sexual congress so she can say she's a virgin. The aspects making your relationship an affair are the mutual attraction, daily lunches, dinner and drinks, weekend meetings, the "holding" each other, and the lack of plans to leave your wife. Prudie wonders, though, where the "wonderful lady" you're married to thinks you are on, say, a weekend ... or for dinner. And is your son mute? Why is he even along? You are looking for trouble, and Prudie is confident that you will find it.

—Prudie, psychically