Dear Miss Manners: I often host two close friends at my apartment for meals. I sparred with them after they suggested I make something other than what I originally pitched when I invited them for a meal. They maintain that it's polite to cook what your guests request, to make them feel comfortable and to please their tastes.
It's not the first time they've done it, but, despite the fact that it's impolite to question others' manners, I decided I'd say something this time. I told them that it was incorrect to suggest a different menu if someone is hosting you in their home, and that the correct response was to either accept or decline the invitation, not to scrutinize the menu. Am I correct in my thinking, or should I bend to their requests?
Strange that your friends are more interested in host manners than guest manners, considering that they are guests.
Menus have become battlegrounds, now that people care more about what they eat than with whom they eat. And while it is true that hosts should make reasonable accommodations to guests’ food restrictions and preferences, that is not license for guests to order their food as if they were in a restaurant. And Miss Manners has been told that even restaurants, now accustomed to offering gluten-free and vegetarian options, are refusing to go beyond that and accept idiosyncratic special orders.
As you invite these friends often, you are presumably generally familiar with their preferences. Of course you will use that information to try to please them. But guest manners require them to appreciate that without dictating to you.
If they want specific meals, why don’t they invite you for dinner?
Dear Miss Manners: I have terrible skin allergies and cannot use most soaps. I use a hypoallergenic hand sanitizer after using the restroom, but honestly have started just running some water so folks don't make assumptions. It's always good to remind folks not to assume.
Indeed. And to refrain from monitoring other people’s bathroom habits.
Dear Miss Manners: Many years ago, I acquired a lovely set of antique silver ice cream forks. They had caught my attention as something I'd never encountered before, and for their innate whimsy. They would certainly be conversation starters at dessert!
However, I do not really know for what type of ice cream desserts they would be used, or in what circumstances they are appropriate for my dinner guests. How does one use these delightful oddities without subjecting one's guests to certain spills and drips?
Aside from providing whimsy, delight and conversation, ice cream forks are good for eating ice cream. Miss Manners prefers them to spoons, because the curved tines can cut into solidly frozen blocks or lift out bite-sized bits of any accompanying matter, such as cake.
Even if they are new to your guests, she wouldn’t worry about the spillage. Those tines curl around a bowl that can hold soft ice cream, better than, for example, those flat wooden paddles that come with some ice cream cups. And coping with drips is a skill most people learn in childhood.