DEAR MISS MANNERS - What is the proper way to serve butter? My silverware and stainless sets both have butter-serving knives. The silver has individual butter knives, too. My china and my everyday dishes don't include butter dishes.
I have a couple of glass butter dishes, but they are not nice enough to use with my good china and silver and linen. And the butter serving knife will not stay on them.Whipped or molded butter is fun. But is it all right with one's best table setting?
GENTLE READER - If you are seriously interested in having fun with butter (Miss Manners can't believe she said that), you might think about butter curls. An instrument with a sharp, rounded blade can make fanciful shreds of a cold slab of butter, and, for that matter, of your plans for the day.
All sorts of odd dishes that need not match your china will do to hold butter molds, pats, curls or sticks. There are round, footed silver butter containers, with glass inserts, but any interesting plate that seems properly shaped for butter as you decide to serve it, and which will also hold your butter server, would do just as well. Miss Manners suggests that you might have even more fun scouting the sort of store that sells odd bits of old china and silver, probably under the pretentious name of antiques, to find something that will add to your best table settings.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - I was taught that it is very rude to criticize other people in public. My husband criticizes me and even yells at me in public, which I find humiliating. I have told him (privately) not to, but he continues to bother me in this fashion.
What I want to know is: What should I do in these situations? Should I ignore him or what? I do not want to create a scene.
GENTLE READER - In answering your question by suggesting a dignified way to cope with this problem, Miss Manners wants to make it clear that she does not believe a husband's deliberate humiliation of a wife, after such warnings, can be dealt with as a surface problem. This is not what Miss Manners would classify as merely an unfortunate etiquette transgression on the part of an otherwise well-meaning person.
The answer is a calm, cool, "Yes, dear, whatever you say - we'll discuss it later." This registers the idea that you are not acquiescing to him, but have simply decided to avoid a public scene.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - Why is it in poor taste to discuss the price of things?
I am considered by some to be a miser. I like the finer things of life, but I shop around to get them at bargain prices (discount or 50 percent off).
I do understand why it's improper to discuss salaries, because I have often wondered why someone gets paid more than I, and that can cause dissension among peers.
GENTLE READER - Among sensible people, how much they spend is considered to be not unrelated to how much they have. This is why prices, like salaries, are not discussed in polite society.
However, you will be glad to hear that acknowledged bargain hunters, who regard shopping as a sport, are allowed to compare their triumphs among themselves.
DEAR MISS MANNERS - Being an older female executive, I am in contact with representatives of insurance companies, bankers, salesmen, etc., who are 20 to 30 years my junior. When we meet for our appointments in my office, they offer their hands to shake mine. If I am seated at my desk, do I stand to shake hands, or remain seated? If I happen to be standing when they walk in, it presents no problem.
GENTLE READER - My, we have a lot of factors to play with here: age, rank, gender and, finally, venue. A lady doesn't rise for a gentleman; older people do not rise for younger; and higher-ranking people do not rise for lower-ranking people. But - it is your office, and they are visitors. Therefore, you do rise, as hostess, so to speak.
All of the above conditions (except possibly that of gender, which is the least important in an office situation and can even be ignored, although it would be a key factor in social life, where business rank is ignored) dictate that you should be the first to offer to shake hands. However, these juniors mean well in their ignorance, and it is a marked rudeness to refuse to shake a proffered hand, so you and Miss Manners will overlook the transgression.
C) 1989 United Feature Syndicate Inc.