cereta: Laura Cereta (cereta)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My roommates think it is OK to eat asparagus with their hands. However, I believe this looks childish and that asparagus should be eaten with a knife and fork. Is it really a finger food?

GENTLE READER: Yes, it really is. Every once in a while, etiquette likes to shock people, and this will do it.

However, as it offends you, you can invest in asparagus tongs. Miss Manners assures you that seeing what look like small silver forceps on the dinner table will produce an equal amount of shock.
lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea
Dear Miss Manners: When you treat someone to a cup of coffee at an expensive coffee shop, should they choose a smaller size?

Answer: Ah, but which is the smaller size? In today’s cutesy coffee shops, it is unlikely to be called “piccolo.’’
“Order from the middle of the menu,’’ nice ladies were taught, back when gentlemen always paid the bills. But Miss Manners realizes that this would be challenging in a shop that uses pseudo-Italian nomenclature, or where “jumbo’’ might be the most modest choice.

She suggests that a frugal host order preemptively by saying, “We’ll have two mezzos’’ (or whatever they are called), and then graciously inquiring of the guest, “How do you take yours?’’
lilysea: Serious (Default)
[personal profile] lilysea

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My stepfather’s grandson’s wedding is black-tie optional, and my stepfather’s children are renting him a tux. My mom, who is 90, thought she would wear a nice pants outfit with a dressy jacket, and is resistant to buying something new. She has been through a lot this year (treatment for lymphoma, cancer surgery, and she recently fell and broke her pelvis, so she is in a lot of pain).

I and my three sisters (my mom’s only children) live on the opposite coast, but we are now being pressured by the mother of the groom (my stepfather’s daughter) and my stepfather to see that she is outfitted appropriately -- not just for the wedding, but also for the rehearsal dinner (cocktail attire) and the wedding breakfast to be held the day after the wedding.

They have also expressed concerns about the shoes my mother prefers (very safe, comfortable, but not at all dressy). My sister even heard my stepfather tell her that if she doesn’t get something new to wear, she can stay home and not attend the wedding or other events.

My mother doesn’t stand up for herself, unfortunately. Two of us will be traveling to see her soon, and plan to take her shopping. My sister is even purchasing a few things for my mom that she will bring with her, in the hopes that maybe something will fit and work for this event.

Personally, I think it is extremely superficial of them to dictate what she wears (especially since the wedding is six months from now!). If it were me, I would just be thrilled they are both well enough to attend, regardless of how they are dressed.

Is my mother wrong to resist the request to buy something more formal? Or should the step-family back off?

GENTLE READER: What happened to the “optional” part?

While Miss Manners always advocates dressing properly for the occasion -- and generally abhors “optional,” as it just invites chaos -- the particulars of your mother’s dress seem to be unduly fixated upon here. There is certainly a lot of undue angst being put into this poor woman’s wardrobe that seemingly requires three separate outfits and uncomfortable, possibly dangerous, shoes.

If your mother can reasonably be jollied into the shopping expedition or accepts one of your sister’s choices for one new outfit, fine. But if not, please talk to your stepfather about “backing off.” Surely this cannot really be worth all of this fuss.

cereta: Paper Bage Princess, heading off into the sunset alone (Paper Bag Princess)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Almost all of the examples I now see on how to address invitations are totally different from what I was taught in school many years ago. Have the rules changed, or are young people these days making up their own etiquette rules?

I was taught that for a married couple, the correct address would be " Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Jones" and "Mr. and Mrs. Patrick White," not "Mr. Ben and Mrs. Elizabeth Jones" and "Mr. Patrick and Mrs. Taylor White." I was also taught that the male's name came first on the envelope.

Please set the record straight before too many young brides commit a faux pas and look uneducated.

GENTLE READER: Yes, some rules have legitimately changed, and yes, unauthorized people who make up their own rules are often unintentionally offensive. But come to think of it, the old standard that you cite also sends some people into a tizzy.

Miss Manners wishes everyone would just calm down.

There are couples who use the Mr. and Mrs. form you learned (the only one in which the gentleman's title comes first) and they should be so addressed. But there are others who prefer to be addressed more as individuals for various reasons, some of which are eminently sensible, although society used not to recognize them.

All that takes now is one extra line on the envelope:

Dr. Angelina Breakfront

Mr. Rock Moonley

or:

Mr. Oliver Trenchant

Mr. Liam Lotherington

or:

Ms. Norina Hartfort

Mr. Rufus Hartfort

Is that too much effort to ask?
cereta: (foodporn)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My girlfriend is very particular about table manners. She makes a point of leaving a scattering of food on her plate at the end of a meal rather than finishing every crumb as I do.

I know it only amounts to one or two forkfuls, but having traveled extensively in very poor countries, I think this is wasteful and absurd. The plates are also harder to wash. What are your thoughts?

GENTLE READER: That she would like to be excused before someone discovers her responsibility in this matter. But that would be cowardly.

The sad truth is that a century ago, it was indeed the case that children in families that could afford it were taught not to finish everything on their plates. The embarrassing part is that the rule was phrased as "Leave something for Miss Manners" (and in England, "Leave something for Lady Manners").

So yes, while some people were starving, others were wasting food. Miss Manners was not starving, because she got all the rich folks' leftovers.

It was Eleanor Roosevelt's grandmother who repealed this rule. As recounted in Mrs. Roosevelt's "Book of Common Sense Etiquette": "My grandmother came to believe that food was needed in the world and we who had an abundance should not waste it."

Miss Manners agrees -- thoroughly and, as you might notice, selflessly.
cereta: Lacey and Wendy (Lacey and Wendy)
[personal profile] cereta
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My niece has asked me for ideas for a baby shower she wants to give for her expecting daughter. I don't know how to respond without hurting her feelings. How can I gently tell her it's not proper for a mother to give a shower for her own daughter?

GENTLE READER: When you find out, please tell Miss Manners. She has been pointing this out for years, and it doesn't seem to help.

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