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Today's column (hot flash, hot flash, read all about it!)

Posted by Robin Abrahams  March 24, 2013 09:32 AM

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... is online here. The first question is about hot flash etiquette:

... take a deep breath, a sip of water, and dab your forehead with a well-ironed handkerchief of excellent quality, perhaps monogrammed. Learn how to do this with deliberation and ease, allowing it to be a moment when everyone else can quickly check their smartphones, blow their noses, or organize their own thoughts. A moment that enhances your authority, rather than undermining it.

Shorter version? Those of us old enough for hot flashes are old enough to be role models. Behave in the confident, assured way that you'd like to see your own daughter, niece, student, or protege act when it's her turn.

I suggested in the column that sexism and ageism are part of the reason we don't have an established "hot flash etiquette." Which is true, of course, but even in a perfectly just world we'd still have individual cluelessness to cope with, wouldn't we? This summer I had a hot flash around a woman a good deal older than myself, who really should have known better than to go on and on about how much I was sweating. I finally managed to shut her down and got the following email by way of apology two days later:

I really want to apologize for upsetting you the other day. I thought it was just another bit of evidence that 'climate change' is for real and I guess I've adopted a somewhat sarcastically flippant attitude as a defense against the hoard of climate deniers that are preventing our doing what needs to be done to save ourselves from what promises to be an uncomfortably hot future.
You just can't make this stuff up. I should write a novel. 
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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at

Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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