Last week, my girlfriend “Hortonia” and I were at some friends’ house for dinner. Everyone was having a great time when Hortonia, an artist who cannot leave her work at home, whipped out her instant camera and demanded that our hosts pose for her. This would have been just mildly inappropriate, in my view. But “wheelbarrow” position — with our host acting as wheelbarrow while wearing a Groucho nose and holding a banana in his mouth, and our hostess balancing a snorkeling flipper on her head — that struck me as over the top. I let Hortonia know, and we’re both still steaming. Who’s right?
Riled in Rutland
You are. A pineapple or a boxing glove would have been perfectly fine. In this culture, however, forcing one’s hostess to pose for a photograph while balancing a snorkeling flipper on her head strays over the line of common politeness. To be fair, however, perhaps “Hortonia” simply forgot where she was. In Rhode Island, as I’m sure you know, a snorkeling flipper on the head signals appreciation for a delicious meal.