Dear Miss Manners: When I was out on a double date, my date and the other couple used a knife and fork to eat pizza and nachos. I thought that these were finger foods.

These people should not run for public office. Not only are nachos finger food, but Miss Manners has trouble imagining how one could eat them with a fork and knife. A spoon, perhaps.

How to handle pizza will depend on the formality of the restaurant. There is no ban on being more formal, but it seems unlikely that three people made that choice independently. More likely, someone started and everyone else followed.

If so, it will be important to know whose idea it was before you open the conversation at your second date by poking fun at the other couple’s pretensions.

Dear Miss Manners: My brother is 61 and refers to women of all ages as "girls," and even worse, calls seniors "old girls."

I've tried for years to get him to change how he describes women, but to no avail. No amount of wincing or obvious discomfort on my behalf has any effect on him.

Besides, he says, these terms were not considered disrespectful when he was growing up, and he refuses to change and be "P.C."

How do I react when he speaks this way in groups in which we are both included? I'm resigned to his ways in private, but not objecting to them when others are around may sound as though I'm complicit with his terminology, and I certainly am not. We may be siblings, but we do not share the same perspectives.

Having herself been around in the old days, Miss Manners can assure your brother that calling men “men” and women “girls” was never a sign of respect, even when no one objected.

Even if your brother’s memory were correct, it would not justify current rudeness. Rather than wince in private and contemplate speaking up in public, you would do better to speak up in private and wince in public.

Dear Miss Manners: Most of our family cookouts are potluck style. Since we have the biggest, most kid-friendly yard, we end up hosting most of them.

We supply the meat and several other dishes that won't travel well. Usually, other family members will commit to bringing other things, such as salad or sweets. This is always appreciated by me and everyone else.

One kind and somewhat older relative brings a whole watermelon and expects me to cut it up so everyone can enjoy it. But after cleaning my house before the cookout and running around making sure everyone has fresh drinks and whatnot, I really don't feel like excusing myself and attempting to cut a whole watermelon! It's a tedious and messy job, and to do it while trying to host? No thanks!

I would rather this person not bring anything at all. Is there a polite why of expressing: Either bring a fruit salad or something else that is ready to go?

Family potluck cookouts are not, as a rule, formal affairs. Miss Manners therefore offers a simpler, less confrontational solution: Locate the nearest strapping young relative, hand him or her a knife, and ask that person to do the honors outdoors.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website,

2018, by Judith Martin