DEAR MISS MANNERS
While attending my cousin's party last weekend, I met Bob. Bob came to the party with two of his friends, who had been invited by my cousin.
We were properly introduced to each other. Later on, we had a wonderful and sparkling conversation. We got along famously. As the night progressed, we got quite chummy.
Unfortunately, at the end of the party, as we went our separate ways, we failed to exchange phone numbers. Bob lives an hour away from me. Now it seems he's all I think about.
Should I ask my cousin to ask Bob's friends for his phone number?
I am 20 years old, and Bob's friends are incredibly obnoxious. Who knows what kind of off-color jokes they would make about this situation? What impression would I make on Bob if I called him?
GENTLE READER - Congratulations. You are about to find out the advantages of a proper introduction.
Being part of a social network means that you are not on your own but have social allies. In this case, you have your cousin, who was Bob's host at the party and therefore does not need the excuse of your interest to inquire who he is.
It would be a simple matter for your cousin to call Bob's friends and ask about him. A really agreeable cousin might then be persuaded to invite Bob on his own, at a time when you might run into him again.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - Sometimes the bus gets so crowded that some riders are left standing in the aisle. My upbringing has taught me to be respectful and unselfish (especially to women and the elderly), so I always offer my seat to a standing woman or senior citizen.
However, what do I do when there are two such people standing? Which of the women or elderly folks do I offer it to? I mean, I want to be courteous, but wouldn't it be unfair to the one left standing?
GENTLE READER - Miss Manners hopes that the dilemma of whom to ask does not paralyze you to the extent of keeping you seated while they both stand. If neither of the people standing is more obviously in need of a seat than the other, offer it to the one nearest you. Who knows - you may even inspire someone else to offer a seat to the other person.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - You explained the use of a salad knife, but where in the place setting does it go? Please define the service plate and the place plate, and the use of each, if there is a difference.
GENTLE READER - Contrary to what Miss Manners knows is a widespread fear, etiquette does not enjoy tricking people by mixing up all the flatware and making them guess which piece to use when. Knives (and forks, for that matter) are lined up in order of use, from outside the place setting to inside, nearest the plate.
The salad knife is placed so that it will be on the outside when the salad is served. If, for example, salad follows the meat course, the salad knife is next to the meat knife but closer to the plate, so that when the meat course and meat knife are gone, it will be first in line.
There is supposed to be a plate at each setting when diners sit down, and that is called the place plate. If a special plate is used - silver, or some other kind decoratively contrasting with the regular china - it is called a service plate and is exchanged for the dinner plate when the main course is served.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - I am appalled at the number of people I know who, when they are invited to a wedding and to the reception that follows, attend the reception and not the wedding. That seems somehow like being invited to someone's recital and reception and then skipping the recital, going only for the goodies.
GENTLE READER - Please allow Miss Manners a moment to feel sorry for Someone the Musician. The poor soul thought the music was the treat.
Probably bridal couples also think that to see them being married is more important to those they invite to be with them than free champagne. Anyone who does not feel that way does not belong there.
That the issue is complicated by the fact that people are occasionally invited to a wedding reception but not to a private ceremony does not excuse guests who are invited to both for skipping the ceremony.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of the Deseret News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110. The quill shortage prevents Miss Manners from answering questions other than through this column.