Dear Miss Manners: An acquaintance (a man) asked me (a woman) how he could go about using a certain building to hold an event. When I was finished explaining it to him and it was time to go home, I said goodbye and walked toward the door.
When I was about 10 feet away, he called out my name. He said, "I'm a touchy-feely person," and asked for a hug. I didn't know what else to do, so I hugged him and left.
I have seen this man at community events over the past few years, and have just recently been reminded of his name. The past three times he has run into me, he has asked me about boyfriends (present and past) and very little else. (He is married and I have met his wife.)
I find this vaguely disturbing, but on the other hand, he has not done anything that is obviously inappropriate. I don't really feel like hugging him again, but it is likely that we will be running into each other more often. How can I avoid hugging him again without starting a feud?
Gentle Reader: Never mind that vagueness: The reason that you are disturbed is that this behavior is disturbing. No one has any business hugging you without your permission, or inquiring about your personal life.
Miss Manners is alarmed that you feel that politeness requires you to put up with this through subtle evasiveness. It does not. The response to his declaration of being "a touchy-feely person" should be, "Well, I am not." And to the questions, "That is my private life."
Embrace the gray
Dear Miss Manners: I am a 36-year-old mother of four, and am graying. I choose not to dye my hair for my own personal Christian beliefs. I go to church with a few ladies who also believe that they shouldn't dye their hair.
One of the ladies is in her late 50s and completely gray herself, yet she loves to point out how much I've grayed over the past few years. When she does this, she's quite loud, and it embarrasses me.
I know she doesn't mean anything by it. But still, it hurts my feelings, and she embarrasses me in front of others by mentioning it.
She does it so often that I now avoid her. I feel like this is rude of her. How can I let her know what she's doing without hurting her feelings or being rude myself?
Gentle Reader: People who repeat the same inane remarks should be given the same responses until they finally give up.
In this case, Miss Manners would suggest, "Well, as you have guessed, I keep hoping I'll get to look like you" — said loudly enough to get a laugh from bystanders. But Miss Manners has a question of her own: What is embarrassing about gray or graying hair?
"Miss Manners" is Judith Martin of the Washington Post. Send questions to missmanners.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org.