Miss Manners: Leave medical history out of dinner chat

August 6, 2013

DEAR MISS MANNERS: After years of ill health, I have recently resumed dating. I am 39 and have frequently been told I appear a good deal younger than I am. However, due to my health issues, I have had a partial hysterectomy.

Of course, I know better than to address medical concerns (past or present) at dinner with a gentleman who simply wants a nice evening out. I simply want a nice evening out, too.

But I know that eventually, he might find it useful to learn this aspect of my medical history. I would very much appreciate your advice about how and when to broach this subject.

GENTLE READER: Not to bring up your hysterectomy during dinner is an excellent idea, Miss Manners agrees. Any dinner.

It is never a good idea to put your medical history into general circulation, but this is especially true in regard to a gentleman whose intentions toward you are unknown. As, presumably, are yours toward him.

The matter will become relevant if the two of you begin to discuss having a future together. The notion that people are entitled to intimate information in order to consider whether to pursue the acquaintance is both vulgar and dangerous.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I usually eat bacon only at restaurants, and I like only crispy bacon. Which is a better way to request crispy bacon?

A simple, “I would like my bacon crispy, please,” and then hope it arrives that way? Or is it better to alert the waiter/waitress that I will send back limp bacon by saying, “I would like my bacon crispy, please. If it isn’t, I’ll have to return it for crispy bacon.”

My daughter prefers the first statement. I think it is nicer to give the waiter a heads-up that I will return it than wait until limp bacon appears and then seem like a hard-to-please customer and request a new order.

This is obviously a minor problem, even in the world of good manners, but could you please tell me the best way to order crispy bacon?

GENTLE READER: There are no minor problems at breakfast. Imagine, for example, that you are a waiter and your day starts with a customer who threatens to complain before she has even ordered.

Therefore Miss Manners would prefer you to inquire, “Is the bacon really crisp?” adding, as if admitting to a charming fault, “I only like it really, really crisp.” There will be time enough to send it back if it turns out that your breakfast has been misrepresented.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper thing to do when you show up at an event or meeting wearing the same outfit as another woman? If it is possible to change, should you?

GENTLE READER: That strikes Miss Manners as an awful lot of trouble to take for a minor coincidence. Besides, if it were a rule, both ladies would rush home, and, as they seem to have the same taste, might show up in different identical outfits.

How much better it would be to rush over to the other lady and declare, for all to hear, “What a beautiful dress! You look stunning in it.”

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

, by Judith Martin

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