DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was brought up somewhat properly to believe, as you do, that you put on the table only what is needed for that meal in terms of flatware. (By the way, we use my grandmother’s sterling every night.) My husband, on the other hand, believes that you should always put knife, fork and spoon at the minimum. Part of this is because he enjoys the sauces that come with the meal and usually wants to be able to scrape every last drop off the plate.

While this is flattering to my cooking ego, I find it somewhat rude and a silly reason to add another piece of flatware to the table. His argument is that the spoon is “necessary” for him! I try to honor this preference but occasionally forget, which causes some friction.

Would you be so kind as to opine on sauce scraping and spoon requirements, please? My own opinion is, of course, that he is “incorrect,” but that I am willing to honor his personal preference to the best of my ability.

GENTLE READER: When is your husband’s birthday? Here is what you should get him: his very own sauce spoon. This is an implement of mid-20th century French origin that looks like an oval soup spoon that has been run over by a truck, with one side having been slightly mangled.

It is not an item Miss Manners is crazy about, but it has a certain legitimacy that will respect your laudable but conflicting hopes of being both correct and kind. When your husband is overcome with gratitude, please extract a promise that this will be used only at family meals.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I spend most of our summer weekends racing sailboats together. Since the water’s reflection intensifies the sun, I always make sure to apply a liberal amount of sunscreen several times through the day. However, due to my fair skin, I always end up with some degree of sunburn or tan lines on my face where I wore sunglasses all weekend.

Personally, I’m just fine with the consequential tan lines from wearing sunglasses when it’s sunny out because protecting my eyes is far more important.

Every single Monday morning when I show up to work, multiple individuals make rhetorical sarcastic remarks similar to “Were you wearing sunglasses this weekend?” or “You should take your sunglasses off next time.”

I understand I have the telltale signs of sunglass wearing all over my face, but I am frustrated with the offensive comments. How do I respond? I am tired of continually explaining my sailing, fair skin and refusal to go without eyewear in the sun.

GENTLE READER: One might think your colleagues would be equally tired of starting the work week by re-serving their rejected advice. Miss Manners suggests encouraging that by regularly replying, “So you have told me.”

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site,, where you can send her your questions.

2011, by Judith Martin

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