DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it okay to ask for more bread so that you can take it home? I go out with people who feel that it is acceptable to ask for more bread with the express purpose of taking that bread home, not to enjoy it at the meal.
Am I wrong to think that in this situation it is improper to ask for more bread?
GENTLE READER: Only if they are asking the grocer and planning to pay for what he hands them would you be wrong.
Miss Manners hears often now about people who have expanded the doggie bag practice in order to stock their larders. The idea was supposed to be to take home from restaurants the food that you had ordered but were unable to finish. Your dining companions actually want to request extra food they would not otherwise have been served. And now hosts report that guests are asking for — or simply packing up — leftovers after private dinner parties.
These are not desperate, starving people, or they wouldn’t be going to restaurants and dinner parties. Why are they begging and looting? How do they have the nerve to expect restaurants or hosts to supply them with future meals? And why do you continue to eat with them?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband will soon be filing for divorce. I have, for several years past, presented my mother-in-law with a Mother’s Day corsage because she requested one from me several years ago, and I have continued the tradition to avoid the discomfort of being asked to buy one.
When I am no longer her daughter-in-law, is it appropriate for me to order her a Mother’s Day corsage as a gift from our young children? My husband and his sister will most likely not remember to order her one, as they have never done it in the past and left the task up to me, or perhaps not even thought of it at all.
I have heard, secondhand, that she will still welcome me in her home after the divorce, and I assume she will want to continue as cordial a relationship as possible, as she will still be my children’s grandmother.
It is unclear to me at this point if our divorce will be bitter and ugly or if it will be a cooperative process. By the end, my mother-in-law may come to hate me.
GENTLE READER: As you have been sending those corsages to avoid annoyance, rather than out of affection, you could hardly be blamed for stopping. Yet Miss Manners can think of reasons that you might want to continue.
One is as a reminder of the tie you have with her through the children. Another has to do with the possibility of your being vilified during an unpleasant divorce. It might not help, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have fresh evidence of your having been gracious to her.
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