Dear Miss Manners: I find myself amazed by people's preconceptions about finicky eaters. I was once told, point blank, that I was a spoiled, snobbish little girl whose parents let me eat whatever I wanted instead of "making you eat what you are given.''
This stunned me completely into silence. My mom made sure my eating habits were healthy. She did not, however, try to force me to eat anything I couldn't stand. It was not me turning up my nose at food; it was the fact that certain tastes and textures make me literally nauseated.
There is no way to force myself to choke down something without suffering horrible stomach cramps and the possibility of other, even less palatable, results later in the evening. I hope you will post this to help your gentle readers understand us "finicky eaters'' a little better.
Although there is no doubt that the person who called you spoiled and snobbish was being rude, Miss Manners finds herself wondering what you were saying that these insults silenced.
If it was, “Thank you so much, but no thank you,’’ you have her approval for your stony silence, in addition to her condemnation of your attacker.
If it was, “There is no way to force myself to choke down something without suffering horrible stomach cramps and the possibility of other, even less palatable, results later in the evening,’’ she is forced to point out that your own behavior was not above reproach.
Dear Miss Manners: My fiance and I were dining at a small pub last night, seated in what were, at the time, the only two bar stools available. We placed our orders and relaxed to enjoy the atmosphere.
Soon after, the seat to my immediate left and the seat to my fiance's immediate right became available. It was only minutes before two young men raced into our area to ask that my fiance and I slide down a spot (specifically, they asked me) to give the men two seats next to each other.
We complied, but I was a little irritated. We had already chosen our spots, we were expecting food, and yes, childishly, we were their elders and were there first.
Was what these two young men asked rude? Should my fiance and I have foreseen the situation and just moved anyway, once we saw that we could make a pair of seats available? What is the protocol?
Sitting at a bar is less formal than seating at a table, and etiquette does expect some understanding for the jostling that necessarily ensues. This means, for example, making room for the customer who needs access to the bartender to order a drink or pay a bill. But it also requires that customer to choose the access point wisely.
The request you describe did not require you to duck drinks or change, and Miss Manners believes that the gracious course of action was to comply. She might reconsider if the relocation required more than sliding a plate 18 inches to the side — if, for example, the pub were located in a major airport and your European-bound luggage had been painstakingly balanced around the bar stools.