DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is my obligation to provide a selection of beverages at a dinner party? I was brought up to think that a glass of water should be provided at each place. My husband thinks that we are supposed to provide a choice of other options such as iced tea or juice.

This came up last time his parents visited, since he says that his mother doesn’t drink water. (Who doesn’t drink water??)

GENTLE READER: Your mother-in-law, evidently.

Miss Manners suggests that you check back about that upbringing of yours. Was it really “Water is all they get, no matter what,” or was there a small overriding clause about meeting reasonable requests to please your guests?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the appropriate response if a professor, to whom one has applied for a summer position, does not notify one promptly that he has filled the position with someone else?

I am a first-year law student; I applied for a research assistantship with a professor for this summer. I interviewed with him. At the interview, he said that he would make his decision soon and reply to me promptly by e-mail.

About a week later, he offered the position to someone else in my class. That person accepted the offer.

I learned of this almost immediately afterward. I wasn’t upset by this: I was happy for the fellow that got the job. The next day I expected an e-mail from the professor. And the next. The professor has taught first-year classes many times before; he should know that news travels very quickly.

I received no message till a week later. The professor then sent me an e-mail telling me that he was sorry not to choose me, but, etc. He neither acknowledged nor apologized for not responding promptly. I felt and still feel very insulted.

Am I right to feel insulted? Should I tell him that I feel insulted? In reply to his e-mail, I sent him a note thanking him for his consideration and saying that I thought that his choice of student would be excellent in the job. In an aside, I mentioned that I learned of this the previous week.

Was this note improper? Should I talk to the law school’s Office of Career Services and ask them to have a word with him? What should I do besides stew?

GENTLE READER: Look for another job. But not in the etiquette business, where we do not go around scolding people. Even Miss Manners would not dream of doing such a thing; she gives an opinion only when asked.

Granted, it would have been considerate of the professor to tell you his decision in good time so that you could begin making other plans. Unfortunately, many prospective employers do not have the courtesy to respond at all to applicants whom they have seriously considered.

But it is unwise, as well as rude, to enter the job world with the idea that you can reform the senior people in it.

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

, by Judith Martin

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