DEAR MISS MANNERS: I understand and observe the rule that one should wait for everyone at the table to be served before one starts eating unless the not-yet-served parties demur and urge others to eat. Is it also considered necessary to wait until others have photographed their meal and posted it to social media?
This issue arises for me not in restaurants but at home. My husband and I split cooking duties, so we each cook on different nights. He tends to make elaborate, time-consuming spreads, of which he is justifiably proud. So, he shares photos of the plated results on social media along with a paragraph of explanation about the ingredients and preparation.
Meanwhile, I sit hungrily watching my food grow cold. He considers it impolite if I start eating before he is also ready to pick up his fork or chopsticks. I believe that once we are both served, it is up to each person to decide how to proceed – whether to dive into the meal or to conduct a photo shoot. I have observed that this behavior occurs in restaurants, as well, even though those posting are merely consuming the meal and did not produce it. I hungrily await your judgment.
GENTLE READER: It will be in your favor. Miss Manners hereby declares that photographing a meal constitutes consuming it, in the sense of feeding on its aesthetic. You may begin to eat.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: As much as I love to write and receive handwritten letters, I have become so busy that I have begun to use websites that send e-cards rather than just not sending anything. I sent a sympathy e-card to a 20-something, figuring he was too young to remember when snail mail was the norm. I did feel terribly guilty for being so lazy. Would you say it is in terribly bad taste to send a sympathy e-card?
GENTLE READER: Your repeated use of the word “terribly” leads Miss Manners to believe that you are exaggerating in the hope of being excused on the grounds of feeling anguish at deviating from the proper standard. Or that you are trying to make Miss Manners look silly for considering this to be a serious infraction.
No, it is just what you say it is: a quick way of registering sympathy without the trouble of offering personal comfort by writing about what the deceased person meant to you. If you really felt terrible about tossing this off, you wouldn’t grudge the extra few minutes it takes to write.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: As the mother of the bride, I understand that it is my place to host the bridal shower. That said, what other etiquette is associated with this role, and when do I involve the bridesmaids and maid of honor?
GENTLE READER: Such matters need not trouble you, as you have been misinformed about the basic premise. Miss Manners reassures you that it is not the place of the bride’s mother to give her daughter a shower, but only to be appreciative if the bride’s friends decide to do so.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.