DEAR MISS MANNERS: My friends and I frequently have dinners where we take turns cooking. One of the members of our circle will cherry-pick and take the “best” parts of a shared dish.
The other night, I made a casserole, and she took just the baked cheesy top layer and left the bottom portion. If someone makes a beef or shrimp stir-fry, she will invariably pick out just the beef or shrimp and leave the veggies. This may sometimes leave others with less complete portions or servings for their own plates.
Is there a polite way I can bring this up? We’re all very close friends, but she can be sensitive to criticism, and I don’t want to say something that might hurt her feelings if I’m the one that’s being overly sensitive.
GENTLE READER: Stop asking your guests to serve themselves. Arrange their plates in the kitchen – or at a buffet table nearby if they want to make requests for light meat or dark. But this comes with a warning: No fair complaining in the kitchen about any food your guests leave untouched.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I were invited to his cousin’s wedding in a town 670 miles from our home. I was not even aware of the existence of this cousin prior to receiving the invitation, but we will be attending the wedding since my husband feels it is important.
Imagine my surprise then when I also received an invitation to the cousin’s bridal shower. Since I had no desire to travel 670 miles in order to deliver a gift to a complete stranger, I RSVP’d my regrets regarding the shower.
Weeks later, I learned that my mother-in-law took it upon herself to send a gift to the bridal shower and signed my name to the card! What am I to make of this?
I have no idea what the gift even contained. I feel very awkward knowing a stranger, distantly related only through marriage, received a gift (possibly of questionable taste), which she attributes to me. When I finally do meet this mystery bride at her impending nuptials, am I to acknowledge the shower present, sent without my knowledge? If she brings it up, what am I to say? Should I tell my mother-in-law I wish she hadn’t done that?
GENTLE READER: A mother-in-law giving you credit for a present you didn’t have to buy? A distant relative having the audacity to include you in her wedding? Miss Manners is scrambling to find a true offense here.
Families and in-laws are fractured enough without looking for a fight. If you truly fear a tasteless present, you may tell the bride when you see her, “My mother-in-law was kind enough to sign our names to the present she brought for the shower. I am so sorry that I could not attend.” But do not apologize for the present itself. For all you know, the bride could have registered for that saucy thing herself.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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