I spent the entire evening with a pleasant expression, feigning interest, and counting down until I could go home. He had a good time, and upon following up was shocked to hear that I did not share his feelings.
In retrospect, I felt trapped and helpless on the date and wound up pretending everything was OK.
Is this the appropriate approach, or is it better to be upfront with my feelings and save us both time and the emotional runaround?
An activity that used to have the charming and perhaps fanciful name of courtship has become so businesslike that there is a frightening logic to your suggestion.
Yes, announcing, “Sorry, you won’t do” at that moment when the gentleman first opened his mouth would have allowed you both to move on to the next candidates. But at what horrifying sacrifice of the decencies of social behavior?
Miss Manners is no advocate of dating services, but even she can recognize that you violated its implicit cautions. You accepted a dinner date with a stranger after — at most — a week of the usual preliminaries, such as exchanging emails and eventually arranging a short meeting on neutral territory.
Having made that commitment, however, you were obliged to see it through. At what point do you think you could have bolted? On your doorstep, when he introduced himself? During the soup course? Or the dessert?
The proper dismissal would have been at the end of dinner, when you express regret that you have a full schedule in the foreseeable future.Jumping the gun
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My son is proposing tonight. I want to send her flowers tomorrow. What should the card say?
“I knew about this before you did, and pre-approved you”?
Not a good idea. Miss Manners certainly favors welcoming a bride into the family, but recommends allowing the couple to break the news to you together first.Teeth at the table
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Please tell me the proper way to open a cracker package in a restaurant. I know using your teeth is probably not right, but I don’t know the proper alternative.
Why is traditional etiquette constantly charged with setting mealtime traps, when all it does is to provide sturdy utensils for consuming food?
And meanwhile, establishments that expect diners to cope with paper and cardboard have people like you assuming that propriety is legitimately involved.
There is no proper way of dealing with trash on a properly set table because it shouldn’t be there. Miss Manners realizes that restaurants are required by health laws to present some items in their commercial wrappings, but that prevents them from being models for correct service.
However, she does agree that using your teeth is not an attractive solution. If the designated “tear” part of the packaging doesn’t yield, as is so often the case, she recommends attacking it with knife edge or fork prong.
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