Q: My last three lunches with different groups of friends have resulted in total discussion of food allergies and gastrointestinal issues.
It seems everyone is self-diagnosed with gluten, lactose or egg intolerances, or a variety of other issues, and they have to discuss this prior to ordering and throughout the meal. The poor wait staff need chemistry degrees to answer all the questions about the food, even after they provide special menus for these people’s issues.
They also like to discuss their resulting symptoms, which are not very appetizing. Then on top of this, yesterday I was told it must be nice to be healthy as a horse, since I had been quietly listening to the discussion and made no comments on the discussion at hand.
When the dessert tray comes out, everyone agrees that you have to push the limits once in a while and order up.
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I am not enjoying my friends and do not plan to continue joining them for meals. Is anyone else experiencing this new trend?
A: Oh, yes. It wasn’t bad enough that private entertaining has been all but ruined by the difficulty of providing a menu that meets the multitude of needs – and, more often, demands – of guests. And also that conversation has been ruined by discussing it all.
It seems that people cannot even refrain from spoiling restaurant outings, where they can each order their own meals.
Miss Manners cannot blame you for quitting these sessions. It cannot be much fun spending time becoming acquainted with other people’s digestive systems.
But if these people are good friends with otherwise redeeming qualities, perhaps you can suggest a few rules:
▪ That anyone with particular requirements be in touch with the restaurant in advance to ensure that these can be met.
▪ That there will be a total ban on discussing food during the meal, with the only possible exception being a spontaneous “Yum!”
Q: Our youngest son got married last year. I have one friend who emailed me four times asking when she is going to get a thank-you card from the newly married couple. She even asked two of our mutual friends if they received anything.
My son’s wife is in school, pursuing a law degree, looking for an internship and also volunteering, and not home all day doing nothing.
I have personally thanked many people, and told them that eventually there will be an official thank-you card. Most people don’t mind. They say it’s the 21st century. My daughter-in-law also says she will send cards within the first year of marriage.
A: No, she won’t. There will never be a time that she considers acknowledging other people’s generosity as important as her studies, internship, volunteering, and whatever else she is doing, including resting up from all that.
But other people also have busy lives, and some of them took the time and trouble to be generous to her and your son, who could equally well write the letters. (Where is his responsibility in your complaint?) Thanks are due when presents are received – that there is a year’s leeway is an unfortunate myth.
Miss Manners warns you not to take comfort in your friends’ polite assurances that they don’t care. There is no 21st-century ruling that gratitude has been abolished while generosity must be continued.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.