Miss Manners: Grandpa’s title belongs to both sides of family

February 12, 2013

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My father passed away a few years ago. To my nieces and nephews, he has always been referred to as “Grandpa.” Last fall, my husband and I were blessed with the arrival of our first child. My mother-in-law refers to my father-in-law as “Grandpa.”

This really hurts my feelings because I feel as though it is dismissing my dad’s role. My dad may not ever be able to meet my son, but I look forward to telling him about my dad.

My husband says I’m being overly sensitive. Lately, I have tried to mention my dad in front of them using the name “Grandpa,” but nothing has changed.

Who decides the names of grandparents? Would it be rude of me to ask them to choose another name?

GENTLE READER: It seems a bit late for Miss Manners to have to explain to you that all children have two grandfathers — and, in these chaotic times, sometimes more. Attempting to trademark the term “grandpa” on behalf of your late father is not only futile, as you have discovered, but also insulting to your father-in-law.

That said, families do often find it convenient to distinguish between them by using different diminutives, or a relevant ethnic title, or a proper name appended to the title. First choice goes to the person to be addressed, subject to modification — preferably endearing modification — by the child when he begins to talk.

By all means, talk to your child of his maternal grandfather — but not at the expense of attempting to distance his relationship with his paternal grandfather.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Maybe it’s just me, but there is a trend among restaurant servers that I find a little off-putting. Instead of asking, “How is everything?” or “Can I get you anything else?” when checking on their customers, they ask, “How does everything taste?” This practice is so pervasive that I think it must have originated with restaurant owners.

The problem I have is that the restaurant experience involves more than just the taste of the food, and, frankly, I find the question a little creepy.

Do you know the origin of this question or the rationale behind it? Is it acceptable etiquette for servers to ask this, as opposed to asking a general question about the restaurant experience, or asking if the customers need anything else?

GENTLE READER: Can someone tell Miss Manners who serves as the national restaurant phrasemaker? Whoever it is does an astounding job of disseminating patter that annoys diners all over the country.

People who are eating, and perhaps trying to talk with one another, are constantly being asked, “Is everything all right?” and “How’s everything so far?” and “Are you still working on that?” And now you have identified another pesky question.

Miss Manners’s plea to restaurateurs: Stop instructing your staffs to intrude unnecessarily on your customers’ enjoyment of food and company with these inane questions. Milking them for compliments is especially futile. Most people will murmur that everything is fine, even when it may not be, just to end the quiz.

Good service consists of remaining alert to the customers’ needs, one of which is to dine in peace.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

, by Judith Martin

Distributed by Universal Uclick for UFS

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