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Miss Manners: Solo diner feels shamed by host’s ‘just one?’ question

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: I’m a single guy in his late 50s who enjoys recharging as a solo diner in restaurants. Sometimes I’ll catch up on reading, other times I people-watch, and other times, I simply enjoy quiet time with myself. (Notice I did not say “by” myself.)

Could you please advise restaurant hosts that it is degrading to say, “Just one?” as I am approached to be seated? This has been a pet peeve of mine since I was the head host at a restaurant in my 20s: I taught my staff never to greet solitary diners with such a rude opening.

My response to the unaware and unthinking when this happens — which is almost every time — is, “Isn’t one enough?”

Food for thought, dear Miss Manners. I’d certainly appreciate it if you could pass this little nugget to those working in food service.

Sure — if you can suggest a suitable substitution. Miss Manners notices that you pointedly did not, perhaps because it is such an innocuous thing to say.

She suggests, “Table for one?” since any inoffensive number can be plugged in there. Or even just, “How many in your party?”

But in the absence of this, it seems far more likely that your restaurant hosts are simply trying to assess where to seat you — not shame you for being alone — with their innocent use of the word “just” or “only.” It is you who is attaching meaning to it.

And speaking of semantics, Miss Manners is afraid she fails to see a substantive difference between “with” and “by” myself, except that the former sounds much more salacious.

Dear Miss Manners: For many years, I wore my thick, curly red hair in a long mane — sometimes down, sometimes pinned up in various styles. I recently chopped it off to just above my shoulders, and I feel great about it!

However, I am receiving compliments that sit poorly with me: “What a cute cut; it’s SO much more professional. I hated that bun you wore.” “This is the best your hair has ever looked; I hope you never grow it back out.”

Some of the commenters have taken it upon themselves to repeat the statement several times, and it’s bumming me out. I LOVED my long hair, and I may well grow it back out! I also love my friends, and I would appreciate an appropriate response to let them know that the second half of their “compliment” is ruining the first half.

“I am sorry to hear that you thought I looked bad for so long. I also enjoy this new look, but I hope I won’t disappoint you when I grow it out again.” This way, Miss Manners assures you, they will be suitably forewarned not to be rude again.

Dear Miss Manners: My wonderful daughter-in-law takes off her shoes when she walks into our house. My floors aren’t pristine, and when we sit in the living room, she then puts her feet on the white wool upholstery.

I didn’t say anything at first, when she was the girlfriend. Now they are married. We have a great relationship, and I should be thankful for that and not make my furniture take precedence. But is there anything I can say at this point?

“We got you this pair of slippers.”

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

© 2023 Judith Martin