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Dear Mr. Smith, How do two people walk under an umbrella without being bonked on the head or poked in the eye?

I have known people to avoid umbrellas altogether for fear of blindness. This phobia has ruined many a potential romantic walk in the rain. Here's the proper technique: The gentleman confidently opens the umbrella and positions himself on the outer (street) side of the sidewalk. This way he protects the lady from the splashing of passing cars. He holds the umbrella in his inside hand (i.e. the hand closest to the lady) in a central position, so that it covers both partners.

He must hold it so high that it never touches the lady's head, even if she is taller than he. This is an unnatural and tiring position, and it is for this reason that the gentleman must brave it. He must not flag; he must not allow the umbrella to descend on her hair. The lady takes the gentleman's (umbrella-holding) arm. See how the umbrella draws them together? When they stop walking and turn to each other, in the damp bubble of black cloth, it is time to kiss.

Dear Mr. Smith, Can I wear slip-on shoes with a suit and tie?

There are suits and there are ties. Current fashion accepts all kinds of variations on convention: Fashionable suits, in fashionable environs, are often worn with slip-on shoes and even short boots. But this is a trend for the dandy or the rebel, and for fairly modern suits. In very conservative environments (finance, law) or especially formal ones (lunch with the Governor-General, your wedding), plain lace-up shoes (with leather soles!) are required. I wouldn't wear a double-breasted suit, or a charcoal pinstriped suit with cuffed trousers, with slip-ons.

Dear Mr. Smith, We're done. Do I have to stay overnight?

Well, it seems clear that your goal in this brief coupling was hardly the achievement of intimacy, so why not make this clear? Flee, tough guy: Make up an excuse about work the next day, bestow a patronizing kiss and flee. Then don't call her again if you don't want to. This will teach her a valuable lesson: that sometimes a man is going to be cold and businesslike, no matter how suave and gentle his seduction. This way you will ensure that she is nervous about seeing you again. In fact, you will contribute to the general reluctance of women to engage in spontaneous sex, making life more restrained for your fellow man.

Seriously, if casual sex is what you're after, then there's no sense in making fake romance around it: That's more dishonest. If you stay over, you are making a kind of promise. Breakfast together is awfully romantic. If you are sure romance is not what you want, don't mislead her. (Why you have no interest in romance is a question I would like to ask, but that's a psychiatrist's purview.) I would say, though, that if you have invited her over and your business is done and she curls up like a cat and dozes off on your chest, it would be harsh and inhospitable to tell her she has to leave. If you don't want to see her in the morning, don't invite her over.

For access to the full archive of questions posed to Mr. Smith, or if you have a style or etiquette question of your own, please visit Russell Smith's online advisory service for guys,

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