Dear Miss Manners: How does one spread cream cheese on a bagel?

Assuming the bagel is cut in half, does one spread cream cheese on an entire half of the bagel? Or is a bagel treated as, say, a dinner roll, where one butters only the pieces that one breaks off?

I'm afraid that my family didn't come across bagels in the old country, so this has us a little mystified. (I admit I have been treating it as dinner bread — it seems less gauche than buttering an entire half-bagel.)

I await your answer with bated breath. There's a very nice bagel shop across the street, and I will enjoy it so much more when I know how to eat the bagels properly.

Either method you describe is indeed proper, depending on whether you consider it a piece of bread or a sandwich.

However, Miss Manners warns you: Before you enjoy the bagels from across the street, make sure that you specify that they be delivered to you dry and/or whole. Otherwise, the shop will generally do the spreading for you, leaving you with a warm, cream cheesy gloop that will be nearly impossible to eat neatly — or to get off your sleeve.

Dear Miss Manners: A close relative had to cancel her wedding due to covid-19. While we expect a new date to be decided soon, nothing has been announced.

Then we received a very confusing missive, which contained two announcements. The first was a note canceling the original wedding, and the second was an invitation to a shower-by-mail.

I understand the bride's dilemma, and I sent her a gift from her registry because that's what I would have done anyway. But my traditionalist self is troubled by what ends up being a straight-up request for gifts.

Perhaps you can come up with a way to negotiate these new shoals: one that will satisfy both young brides and old aunties like me.

Was there ever to be a shower in person? Or was the bride simply terrified that with the wedding canceled, presents would be forgotten — and she desperately needed new oven mitts?

Although Miss Manners finds your proposal to negotiate generous, there is no real way to compromise here. A shopping list is not an invitation, except to hand over one’s credit card information. If guests made the assumption that presents were no longer required, then they will presumably re-remember when new wedding invitations are sent. In the meantime, the hapless bride must buy her own mitts.

Dear Miss Manners: In reading about an operetta, I discovered that a scene that took place at a wedding included a joke that virtually all the wedding presents were spaghetti scissors.

At first, I assumed the notion of spaghetti scissors was an invention of the librettist, but then I began to wonder: Were spaghetti scissors once actually sold as a piece of cutlery that one could add to one's kitchen utensils?

It is a joke. Cutting one’s spaghetti with scissors — while certainly an amusing idea — is best left to comedians, not polite society.

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

2020, by Judith Martin