Wolf warrior David Huggins reminded me of the greatest conundrum in finer etiquette: how a gentleman should behave when approaching the lower end of a narrow staircase while in conversation with a lady.
All men know that it is courteous to hold open doors and allow others to pass before us, not only ladies but anyone really. But the staircase imposes a separate and sadly little-known rule.
You do not walk behind a lady up a staircase, because this will give the impression that you are ogling her legs/posterior.
The problem has no solution unless you are willing to ask the lady every time which of these two etiquette rules she is aware of and which of them she feels has higher priority. You can’t excuse yourself and flee every time there’s a staircase in your path to dinner. On every narrow staircase, with every lady, you will wonder either “Does she think I’m staring at her ass? Hey, nice ass, come to think of it” or “Does she think I’m rude for barging away onto the stairs and leaving her behind?”