Miss Manners: She gave us diapers to use as napkins. What could I have said?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Last week, I visited my brother and his wife. They have two boys, aged 10 and 13. They kindly bought everyone dinner — pizza and wings, nothing formal or fancy. Just a nice little family get-together with the kids.

My sister-in-law, instead of providing us all with paper napkins, gave everyone either a washcloth or a clean, but formerly used, cloth diaper. And I didn’t even get my own cloth diaper — I had to share one with my son (also 10)!

It’s fine if she wants to save paper, and fine if she wants to use these for napkins when company is not present — but even for an informal meal such as this, was her choice of napkins inappropriate?

My mother has bought them lovely cloth napkins in the past, but they never get used.

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I really didn’t want to wipe my mouth with a cloth diaper. What should my appropriate response have been? And how can I avoid this in the future?

GENTLE READER: Bring your sister-in-law a hostess present: more napkins. “I noticed that you ran out of napkins last time, so I thought you might like these.” Miss Manners suggests that you then quickly distribute them before your hostess has the chance to protest.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What do I say to my son, who didn’t acknowledge my birthday? Mind you, I walk his dog every day!

GENTLE READER: Attach a balloon to the dog with a note that reads, “Wish your mother a happy birthday.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am not good at winding spaghetti on a fork. Is it gauche to discreetly cut it with a fork when eating it?

GENTLE READER: How discreetly? Cutting spaghetti can lead to other problems, like wandering pieces of different lengths that stick out and don’t quite adhere to the fork. Instead, Miss Manners suggests that you use this time of minimal socialization to practice winding small amounts at a time.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When, if ever, is it appropriate to inquire into the unelaborated use of “we” in conversation?

What if “we” has been invoked multiple times by the same speaker?

I gather that such usage by an acquaintance (and on more than one occasion, a longtime colleague) is usually meant …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Lifestyle


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