Q.I was dining today in a very small restaurant, where there is no bar, foyer or other waiting area. A business and social acquaintance came in and shrieked, in front of my two companions whom she had never met, "You don't need that whipped cream. I don't know how you can eat that at your size."
She then proceeded to inform me and my startled companions that she had recently embarked on the (name your favorite People magazine cover celebrity) diet, and offered me the telephone number of the person she said would be able to help me.
Miss Manners, I was aghast. Not knowing what else to do, I smiled and introduced the woman to my companions.
While this example is extreme, it illustrates the annoying habit, shared by many, of supposedly well-meaning people telling those who they believe "need" the information, about their diets, exercise plans and grand theories about weight management. And let us not forget those who would prescribe our clothing and shades of eye shadow.
I would appreciate your advice on how to politely repel the intrusions and "help" of these people.
A.There are too many acceptable names being given, nowadays, to blatant forms of rudeness. To make derogatory public statements about another person's appearance is not misguided help. It is as flagrant an insult as if she had walked up and said, "Your mother wears Army boots."
Miss Manners appreciates the fact that you did not return this rudeness with similar rudeness, but swallowed it for the sake of avoiding conflict. Nevertheless, it is about time the victims fought back.
The polite weapon is a look of fury, accompanied by the statement, "I beg your pardon!" If that does not make your attacker apologize and retire in confusion, you may add coldly, "I am not aware of having consulted you about my personal business."
Q.Could you please advise me if there is any way on this earth to politely leave a party when, after only a few moments, you can tell it is obviously a big crashing bore?
A.To leave in a few moments requires an emergency, and Miss Manners does not advise inventing these on the spot. Faking appendicitis, or suddenly remembering a funeral, only leads to embarrassing inquiries later.
However, if it is a large party, you may leave after 20 minutes to half an hour, provided that you do not offer a specific excuse. Clasp the host by both hands and say: "This is a fabulous party -- and I hate to have to tear myself away. But it was either that or not coming at all, and I couldn't resist stopping by, even knowing it had to be brief." Exeunt.