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Back to (mis)manners

Due to the mounting demand and repetitive requests, the Daily News has invited Ms. Manners (a more political and less politically correct version of Miss Manners) to offer guidance on issues that dominate the agenda.


Dear Ms. Manners, what is the firm but polite way to ask someone to resign?

Bülent A. and Şaban S.

Dear boys,

Ms. Manners is a firm believer in persuasion and discretion. Calling a colleague to resign through newspaper headlines may be perceived as a hostile attitude, not to mention as a sign of weakness. Try the gentle art of persuasion to get your colleague to step down and if it does not work, try to vote him out of office. If that also fails, instead of engaging in a public game of name-calling, practice discretion and discreetly post the documented evidence of your colleague’s corruption to your favorite editor in chief.


Dear Ms. Manners, I have invited a group of European diplomats for dinner. I am somewhat ambiguous about what wine to serve and other dos and don’ts. Could you give a few hints? Mine

Dear Mine, the basic rule is that white wine goes with white meat, such as chicken and fish; red goes with red meat and you can serve rosŽ as a pre-dinner aperitif. However, Ms. Manners strongly advises you to drop the last option, as the European Union has had some recent trouble on whether a rosŽ is a rosŽ by any other name. Do not think about serving that wine whose production methods brought the commission at odds with some of the member states.

It would be polite to watch some Euro-etiquette at the dinner table, such as serving "real" chocolate, rather than the milky, sweet version. Despite the growing tolerance toward the curvy cucumber, please try to get a straight variety. If you have any Scandinavians at the table, do not serve foie gras, even if there are French people present. Also, please employ the rules of gender equality and make sure that women are represented equally at your table.

Ms. Manners would like to point out that a responsible hostess assures that conversation flows easily and non-controversially. Do not mention the Lisbon Treaty to the Irish; do not refer to the great works of the Czech artist David Cerny to the Bulgarians; do not say "darling" to the British; do not mention inappropriate behavior toward minors to the Italians; and do not mention the European Parliament to anyone!


Dear Ms. Manners, my husband, a reasonable man, has started asking since last week whether he had been my first love, whether I love him very much and whether I would marry him if I had to do it again. I cannot understand his insistence. How can I assure him, without lying, as needless to say, he is NOT my first love? Distressed

Dear Distressed, Adil Gür, who has carried out and published a much-read survey on the love and marriage map of Turkey, has a lot to answer for! Spouses started asking each other the questions in the survey. Since Ms. Manners is concerned with manners, rather than morals, she refrains from a debate on whether perfect honesty is necessary between spouses. However, she very much doubts that when more than half of the interviewees were being perfectly truthful when they said that their spouse was their first love and that they would marry the same person if they had the opportunity. It may be simple, not to mention polite, to your spouse to say that you agree with the majority of the people interviewed. "Of course there is only you" with three dots hanging in the air, may also work.

If everything fails, try therapy. With the right therapist, you may be able to re-find happiness in the arms of your now-trusting husband Ğ or those of your therapist!


Dear Ms Manners, first of all, thank you for your last advice, which I tried very hard to live by. I believe that I have made considerable progress in controlling my temper and this is greatly appreciated by everyone around me. I would now like to ask your advice on how to deal with misnomers. For example, if your name is JR Ewing but people call you JRE, how can you tell those shameless so-and-so’s that you want to be called JR Ewing without being rude? Angry

Dear Angry, your example is not a misnomer but a hypocorism. Of course, you can gently, I repeat gently, let people know how you prefer to be called. I regret to tell you that most polite societies would not consider calling people shames boars or threatening to sue them would be considered gentle.

Hypocorisms work in many different ways and not always according to the will of the subject. For example, Barbara may prefer to be called Barbie, rather than Bobbie, which sounds like a puppy, but this will not happen unless she looks like a Barbie. Similarly people may be inclined to call AKP "AK Party" if the party and its staff appear to them as pure as driven snow.


On a more personal note, Ms Manners is getting very, very irritated with your colleagues who insist that we call you and your party in a certain way while they are very good at giving a variety of names to other parties!

Dear Ms Manners, as an English speaker, I am somewhat confused with the use of "sen" and "siz," which I am told corresponds to French "tu" and "vous." Is that correct? Are there any cultural particularities that I should know about? Jane B.

Dear Jane, under normal circumstances, you "siz"zle when you talk to your elders, the hierarchically superior, people you do not know and/or do not want to know. However, there are exceptions: In Anatolia, addressing someone as "sen" also marks a sign of respect, so when your janitor calls you "sen" it is not a sign of familiarity.

In the recent political debate, think of "siz" as "you" and "sen" as "yo!" as in "Yo cannot insult me by yo-ing me!"


Dear Ms. Manners, I have been graciously hosted at the prime ministerial palace by the wife of the prime minister, who offered me a lavish gift. I would like to reciprocate. What is the correct procedure? Naomi C.

Dear Naomi, evil tongues here would say that you have already paid your dues by getting her to the front page in every newspaper and that you would need to make up to the First Lady instead. However, Ms. Manners does not agree. It is always polite to send a "thank you" gift or a memoir that could be enjoyed by both Mr. and Mrs. Erdoğan. Needless to say, this does not mean one of your naked photos!