Miss Manners: I’m having trouble recognizing people because of masks


Dear Miss Manners: For the past two years, we have been living behind masks as we strive to keep from spreading, and contracting, coronavirus. Although they help reduce contagion, masks also eliminate handy facial characteristics that help us identify people.

Given this constraint, I’m wondering if there might be some polite way to say, “Who are you?” when people greet me. With nothing to go on besides eye color and voice, I often have no way of knowing who they are.

I don’t want to be blunt, but I don’t want to be clueless, either.

A quizzical look — from a respectful distance — may help the masked person realize that they are difficult to identify. Or Miss Manners has found the more proactive, “Hi! It’s me, Jerry!” from the person being stared at to be helpful and ingratiating.

Dear Miss Manners: My roommate invited a group of her friends over for wine and charcuterie boards as a “bon voyage” for one of them who would be spending a few months in Europe. She did not give me much notice of this get-together — she told me at 10:30 that morning that guests would be arriving around 6 p.m. — but she did extend an invitation to me. (I do not really know any of her friends, except in passing.)

I accepted the invitation, and she went to the supermarket to prepare. I attended the gathering and ate a few crackers and some cheese, and had a glass or two of wine.

The following day, she approached me and said that I owed her money for the food she bought. She said everyone else had already chipped in, having agreed that would be fair.

First, I was shocked that she would ask such a thing. In my experience, when someone is hosting a party at their house, they do not ask their guests to contribute financially. Additionally, she did not tell me when she invited me that I would be required to split the costs.

I told her I had to think about it. I live here too, and the common areas are shared spaces. I probably wouldn’t have even bothered attending the party had I known I’d have to split a few hundred dollars’ worth of food with people I don’t even know.

I’m not sure of the proper thing to do in this situation, and there is a lot of tension between us right now.

“If we were giving a joint party, then of course I would share the costs. But you invited me to this last-minute, and there was no talk of splitting it. Next time, please give me fair warning that your friends are coming over and I will do my best to vacate the premises.”

Miss Manners would be tempted to add how far from “fair” it was for your roommate to charge her other guests, but one confrontation is probably enough for now — especially when you need to continue to live with this person.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button