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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Handling Lustful Advances, Umbrella Etiquette, + Wedding Registries

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


What do you do when your boss flirts with you? Umbrella etiquette in April showers, an update on wedding registries, and whether to use Ms. or Mrs. were all questions this week at NewportManners.

Footsie under the table

Q.  There is a gorgeous woman in my office who makes overly friendly, unwanted, and even salacious advances toward me. Everyone knows we are both married so when coworkers see her sitting on my desk or rubbing my thigh under the table I look the other way. When colleagues rib me, saying, "You lucky dog," and want to know what's going on, I tell the truth. Nothing. She's a big flirt. How do I stop her advances and keep my job? She's my boss.  Name Withheld

A.  Come clean. Tell your gorgeous boss -- the flirt -- that it makes you uncomfortable when she plays footsie under the table. 

  • Ask if you can just be friends. When she hears the word "friends," she may well back off. Negotiating the relationship will most likely buzz kill any lusts for romance.


Non-monogamies are increasingly popular and it has become acceptable for women in the workplace to be living a lifestyle more like a man in terms of sex. Women often take the lead in finding new couples to swing with, because it is less threatening when the woman makes the first advances by doing the foreplay. Find out her intentions.

  • There are couples in good marriages who engage in sex with new partners or multiple partners. 
  • You could always suggest a designer relationship that is agreed upon by you and your wife. Boundaries would need to be hashed out between you, your wife, your boss and her husband to design the kind of relationship that would work for all of you.


Nonetheless, if monogamy isn't working for your boss, she may be so self-involved that swinging wouldn't work. 

  • Sex is 90% of a bad relationship, 20% of a good one. If she thinks swinging will enhance her marriage, perhaps it will, but it will not solve the problem for you. 
  • If your boss is lascivious because she doesn't have a good relationship with her husband, any assignation may end badly.


So if your boss rebuffs your bid to be "just friends," find out why. If you and your wife aren't into swinging, tell her that. It may stop your boss's lustful advances. Either way, she'll playfully tease you. You can always resort to greeting her by saying, "What's up my friend?"

Wedding registries 20017

Q.  What should we know about setting up our wedding register? We're in our early thirties and getting married in the fall. Since our engagement party we're already sending back engagement presents -- from all over the country -- that we didn't need (or like). KW, Raleigh, NC


A.  Take an inventory of what you need. As you both had probably set up households by the time you reached 30, go through your stuff. Make up the registry together because you're essentially requesting items that you will be living with for a very long time. 

  • Most newlyweds appreciate having new linens, especially if they had previously lived with a different person, so you may want to recycle linens used during a past romance. You can have these fresh towels and bedding monogrammed on your own to be sure you have the monogram the way you want it.
  • Bar glasses and wine glasses - because of their fragility they are usually the most needed of all items. Order in sets of twelve - guests can buy them for you in pairs.
  • Flatware: If you already have a kitchen set, add sterling silver (or plate) that you'll actually use, such as candle sticks, and serving pieces, as well as utensils.
  • Kitchen appliances are useful, but register for those you will actually use: a wine cooler, toaster oven, blender, espresso machine, etc. Will you really use that Mixmaster more than every two years?
  • Kitchen tools that you don't already have: You don't want to end up with four carrot scrapers and you still don't have a can opener.
  • Kitchen linens: dish towels, potholders, and easy-care cloth napkins, placemats, and hand towels.


Since your wedding guests are scattered around the country, what you should be aware of is that we're finding that wedding presents from guests living in different areas of the country will differ. 

  • Guests from the northeast and midwest will most likely spend more on your wedding present than guests living in the south or the west. 
  • With the average gift from a family member or good friend valued at $200, guests you're not as close to and coworkers will spend $100. 
  • So register for items in a wide price range from $12. to $2,000. 
  • Guests from the northeast are more likely to send checks or gift cards. Although Midwesterners are using checks and gift cards with growing frequency.
  • In general, guests from the south and west will spend about a third less on a wedding gift.
  • Younger guests are more apt to send a gift from your wedding register than older guests, who find it easier to send a check or gift card.
  • 21% of millennials (27% woman and 16% men) surveyed said that they often couldn't afford to attend a wedding and send a wedding gift and so had to regret a few wedding invitations.


Knowing the above, be mindful of the expense of destination weddings for many of your guests who will be attending other weddings this spring and in the fall. 

  • Offer suggestions such as having guests go in on sharing the cost of an Airhub rental instead of paying for a hotel rooms.  
  • Also, let guests know (on your wedding website) that they can contribute to your honeymoon for as little as $25 or $50, which gives a bit more flair to a gift than sending a whisk from the wedding registry. 

*Best honeymoon registries: Honeymoon Wishes, Wanderable, Honeyfund, Zola.

Umbrella etiquette

Q.  This may seem like an old-fashioned question, but what is proper umbrella etiquette? When I get out of the subway and then while walking a few blocks to my office I'm coming up against an army of big black umbrellas, which way is up?  Addie, Brooklyn

A.  You probably know this first part. Climbing up the stairs from the subway unfurl your umbrella slowly because you obviously don't want to poke an eye. 

  • Once unfurled, keep the handle of your umbrella close to your chest so that you take up as little space as possible while navigating the oncoming foot traffic, as well as those in back of you trying to push past you.   
  • Walk to the right and when turning keep to the right.
  • If you are tall, keep your umbrella high up so as not to tangle with shorter umbrellas. There are more shorter umbrellas than taller ones.
  • When you arrive at the entrance to your office building shake out your umbrella while furling it inward.


*While sharing an umbrella with another person, the taller person holds the umbrella over the shorter person.

Using Ms. or Mrs.

Q.  I work at a real estate agency and I'm writing to the owner of a house I am contracting to sell for her. She is married, but I don't know the status of her marriage. The house is in her name. How do I address her, as Mrs. Jane Jones or Ms. Jane Jones? She is 65 and rather conservative.  BM, Newport

A.  You got me at the fact that she is "rather conservative." Ordinarily I would recommend that you address the letter to Ms. Jane Jones, because Ms. is universally correct. But since your client is "rather" traditional and this is a business letter, to be safe address the letter to Mrs. Jane Jones.

Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners.


Related Slideshow: 25 Things to Look Forward to This Spring in New England - 2018

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