Miss Manners

By The Mercury News | Get the latest Miss Manners columns from Judith Martin, a manners and etiquette expert, who answers your questions for The Mercury News

Miss Manners: He ate 7 pieces of cake at a fancy dinner, and that’s just the start

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> My wonderful husband is everything I could want; however, his one flaw is his table manners.<p>My profession requires me to attend …

Restaurants

Miss Manners: Don’t let long-winded guest dominate dinner party

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I have dinner with a small group of longtime friends who come together once or twice a year to touch base. One person in the group …

Etiquette

Miss Manners: It’s an elopement, not a ‘destination wedding’

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> How do I announce my second wedding, which will be a tropical destination wedding for two only?<p>Most of our immediate friends and …

Weddings

Miss Manners: Servers’ piercings drive appetite away

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> Many restaurant servers and food handlers in sandwich shops and fast-food stores are wearing facial jewelry, like nose rings and …

Etiquette

Miss Manners: Replying to customers who want something for nothing

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I work for a publication covering a specific field. Although some other publications in our field are free for subscribers …

Customer Service

Miss Manners: Does host have to take guest’s dog out?

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I live on the sixth floor of an apartment building downtown. Whenever a certain friend comes over to visit, he asks if he can …

Pets

Miss Manners: If friend posted news, it’s fair game to discuss

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> What is the etiquette around addressing, with a friend, a personal topic that you learned about through social media?<p>For example, …

Etiquette

Miss Manners: Professor needs to master professorial tone

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> In my work as a college professor, it is a joy to see the students learn and grow, and I love having a small part in their …

Parenting

Miss Manners: When can I call myself ‘the Honorable’?

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I’ve recently left elected office. How and when do I use ”The Honorable” and ”Senator”?<p><b>GENTLE READER:</b> Never.<p>Lest you squeal in …

Etiquette

Miss Manners: My stepmother made offensive comments about gender identity

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I took relatives out to brunch. During our conversation, we were talking about my niece’s new job and her search for a nanny to …

Gender

Miss Manners: Some adults can’t resist ‘joking’ with kids

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> Since the birth of my daughter five years ago, I have become aware of a tendency in adults, especially older adults, to treat …

Parenting

Miss Manners: Polite dismissals wasted on robo-callers

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> Caller ID and other technologies made it possible, for a few years, to screen out telemarketers by ignoring phone calls from …

Customer Service

Miss Manners: Cockroaches, coughing waiters — what’s a diner to do?

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> Frequently, I hear voicemail greetings where the person I am calling informs me that they will return my call at their ”earliest …

Customer Service

Miss Manners: Miss Manners decries the ‘selfie charity’

Individuals soliciting charity for themselves are everywhere. The requests range from the heart-rending (people who cannot afford basic necessities …

Internal Revenue Service

Miss Manners: I lost my pinkie finger, so how do I drink properly?

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I had some serious injuries to my hands pulling a refrigerator off of a neighbor, who attempted to unload it off a truck by …

Etiquette

Miss Manners: Hostess wants guests off her bed

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> My husband and I live in a studio flat, so, as you can imagine, our bed is out in the open. It’s next to the kitchen and at a good …

Etiquette

Miss Manners: I need a polite way to tell unsuitable job candidates ‘Don’t waste my time’

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I advertise online for models to use in my artwork, with expectedly mixed results. If I’m lucky, about 30 percent of the …

Etiquette

Miss Manners: Beautiful engagement ring requires no apology

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> When my fiance and I got engaged, I told him that I did not need a ring. He insisted that he wanted to give me one, which I was …

Etiquette

Miss Manners: It irks me every time I see my neighbor put trash in my bin

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> Etiquette-wise, is it acceptable to use someone else’s trash bin? I have a neighbor who often, when passing by, throws away an …

Love

Miss Manners: She seemed offended by my unusual hostess gift

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> What do I bring to an informal dinner at a friend’s house? I have taken them wine (which neither drink), cookies, cookie mix, …

Etiquette

Miss Manners: I find salon chatting uncomfortable and would like to sit in peace

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I patronize a nail salon where all the employees are Vietnamese and speak only a little English. They do nails very well, their …

Introverts

Miss Manners: Can I put up a sign to let my guests know my feelings?

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I host quite a lot of people in my house, a large number of whom somehow feel obliged to give me “hostess gifts.” The majority of …

Etiquette

Miss Manners: I don’t want my gift to offend this gay couple

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> What do you get two conservative Christian Republican men who have sprung out of the closet and announced they are getting married?<p>…

Love

Miss Manners: She humiliated me over the gifts I got her sons

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I have one sister and no other siblings. She has two sons. One had a birthday a few days ago; the other’s birthday was a few …

Etiquette

Miss Manners: Dinner guests shouldn’t need to sing for their supper

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> Are there any social processes or general rules of conduct specific to guests who are hired to perform? I ask this because I am …

Customer Service

Miss Manners: When a very nice lunch turned uncomfortable

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I asked a woman I know professionally if she would be interested in getting together for lunch. She said yes, she would enjoy …

Good News

Miss Manners: The postman asked this question about my mail

strong>DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have had a few people question my home mail deliveries. First, my postman asked me if I worked for the company that sent …

Miss Manners: Will I stress out his family if I go to his funeral?

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I was conceived while my father was married to a woman who is not my mother. He and his wife are still married and have several …

Miss Manners: Friend ruins my good news with her unpleasant exclamation

<b>DEAR MISS MANNERS:</b> I have an acquaintance whose response to other people’s good news is almost always a fervent, and loud, “I’m so jealous!” This …