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Miss Manners: Cutting the lady’s meat definitely not necessary

Fri., Nov. 26, 2010

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My future daughter-in-law says that a polite date cuts the lady’s meat. I never heard of that. Is it true?

GENTLE READER: Yes, if the lady is under 5 years of age and her date is her father.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have an issue with respecting the people that I love the most. I seem to take out my frustrations on them, almost unconsciously.

I don’t lash out at them, but more of just an arrogant, short, demeaning tone. This also includes mood changes toward them in certain circumstances and sometimes coming off defensive. I often believe that I do these things when I find myself uncomfortable in a situation.

Nonetheless, this isn’t a good characteristic to display, especially toward the ones you love the most. I’ve tried to pay attention to detail and notice when I’m doing it, but for some reason I overlook it. Could you help me with some suggestions for things that I can do to resolve this?

GENTLE READER: How refreshing for Miss Manners to hear from someone who is not proud of being rude to her intimates. She is more used to hearing people brag that they needn’t be polite because they feel free to “be themselves” among those they supposedly love.

By their own admission, then, their “real” selves are a trial to have around. What manners they have are saved for people who don’t much matter in their lives.

You, fortunately, have seen the problem here. You could ask someone particularly close to you to shoot you a look when your tone gets offensive, but you then have to promise not to be offended by the signal.

Perhaps it would be enough to remind yourself that the reason many people feel they need not be polite to their relatives and friends is that those people must put up with it.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is a gentle way to tell a young couple that are visiting at your home that it is very rude to text each other at the dinner table? I don’t want to make them mad. The young lady doesn’t take criticism well. Please help before one of us says something wrong.

GENTLE READER: “If you two have urgent business to conduct, we’ll excuse you.”

If you would like a copy of Miss Manners’ newsletters, “On Cellular Phone Courtesy,” “The Etiquette of Proper Eating” or “Proper Wedding Planning,” please send a self-addressed, stamped No. 10 envelope and $2 (per newsletter) to Newsletter, PO Box 167, Wicliffe, OH 44092-0167. Please state which newsletter(s) you wish to receive.

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