June 20, 2024
Plus: I don't like fire near my restaurant table. Is it rude to object?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A young colleague is expecting her first child. I am very happy for her, although I feel conflicted about how the celebration has been communicated.

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She invited colleagues to purchase items from her registry by the date of her baby shower — to which there was no invitation. This communication went out via office email. I should add that this colleague’s superior is the head of human resources.

Is it appropriate to ask for contributions from people who aren’t invited to an event?

GENTLE READER: In descending order, Miss Manners is not fond of: mandated socializing at the workplace, dunning anyone for gifts, and gift registries.

Dunning non-guests had not previously made her list, but we can add it.

Having it done by someone at work in a position that carries professional authority over the victims is both rude and a terrible employment practice — something she would recommend bringing to the attention of human resources were they not, themselves, the offenders.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I recently ate with family at a fine-dining restaurant. We have been there several times, and the food is excellent. The only problem I have is that I do not enjoy watching the chef prepare dishes tableside.

The process is intrusive, and I do not like the cooking smells and the fire so close to the table.

Do you think it would be rude to ask that our food be prepared in the kitchen and then served at the table?

GENTLE READER: Fine dining and dinner-and-a-show are generally opposite extremes in formality. But Miss Manners recognizes that flambe-ing the dessert can be done without the cook also cleaning his hands on your napkin before tossing it back onto your lap.

If you see the server reaching for a match, you are certainly free to ask that the preparation not be done at the table. So long as you have the strength to ignore the disappointed look on the waiter’s face.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received the most beautiful earrings from a new boyfriend for my birthday. When I opened the box to wear them, there was a price tag hidden in the jewelry box itself. I am sure he did not see it.

The jewelry was significantly more expensive than I had expected. There is a little guilt now, knowing the price and not saying anything. Do I say anything or let it be?

GENTLE READER: As the price does not, from an etiquette point of view, affect their value — even if the Hope Diamond hung from one of the earrings — Miss Manners can only conclude that you felt your thanks were inadequate to the emotion being expressed.

She will leave it to your mother to explain what is implicitly communicated by accepting expensive presents from beaux.

If you keep the earrings anyway, she counsels another, more effusive, round of thanks next time you wear them — without mentioning that you now know their value for insurance purposes.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, [email protected]; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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