Dear Miss Manners:
A few years ago, I decided to change my life by joining a gym, and since then, I have become progressively more interested in health and fitness. I've also lost about 10 pounds and feel wonderful.
I want to help people by sharing with them how hard it was for me to reach my goals, while explaining to them that if I can do it, they can, too. I also want to set a good example for others by practicing self-control. However, I don't want to show off or make people feel badly about their own choices.
Next time an overweight friend confides that she doesn't know why she can't lose weight, while she chugs down a double mocha latte, should I bite my tongue, or should I point out the obvious?
Next time a gracious person encourages me to try a calorie-laden dessert, should I take some and discreetly not eat it, or should I politely decline while explaining that those sorts of foods are no longer part of my diet?
Next time someone compliments my shoulders while complaining about their own, should I just say "thank you" or should I discuss the benefits of weightlifting in addition to cardio?
I only want to help those who are interested, but I also don't think I should have to be "in the closet" about being healthy.
Now that you are happy with your weight, Miss Manners would think you would be delighted to be in the closet. Isn't it packed with favorite outfits that you can now wear again?
Anyway, you are making the common error of believing that the only place for you other than the closet is a soapbox.
Thick or thin, you are still bound by the etiquette rule against haranguing people, especially those who are gracious enough to offer you treats and compliments.
Your only opportunity to "share" is to reply to inquiries from overweight friends actively seeking advice. Miss Manners assures you that they already know which foods are fattening; what they want to know is how to avoid the temptation of eating them anyway.
Wait -- there is one more thing you can do. You say that you want to set a good example by practicing self-control. Miss Manners suggests you do this by enjoying your own success while minding your own business.
Dear Miss Manners:
My maid of honor is going to be throwing me a shower. Is it proper for me to be at the shower when my guests arrive and greet them, or am I, as the bride, supposed to be fashionably late?
There is no such thing as fashionably late, as you will realize if your bridegroom is not waiting at the altar when you get there.
Unless it is a surprise party, in which case you would not be asking Miss Manners the question, the guest of honor should be there to greet the guests.
Feeling incorrect? E-mail your etiquette questions to Miss Manners (who is distraught that she cannot reply personally) at MissManners@unitedmedia.com or mail to United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016.
(c) 2004, Judith Martin