Dear Miss Manners • My neighborhood grocery store has recently begun featuring a guitar-playing singer during busier shopping times. His makeshift stage is just by the door, so one is in his field of vision upon entering and exiting the store, as well as while browsing the produce.
While the songs aren’t offensive, loud or bothersome in any way, I find the whole arrangement awkward and generally try to avoid eye contact. Am I being rude? How should one respond to a live entertainer when shopping for necessaries?
Gentle Reader • Placing a performer in such a situation is one of many thoughtless ideas that occur to modern employers with alarming regularity. Miss Manners’ sympathy is with the musician, whose predicament is worse than yours.
But as these people have agreed to do this — and are presumably being paid — your own responsibilities are limited to a brief acknowledgment in passing, and refraining from dumping mayonnaise on their instruments.
Dear Miss Manners • My spouse and I were invited to dinner at the house of a couple with whom we are very close. Another couple, whom we didn’t know well, was actually cooking the dinner.
Before dinner, I made some remarks about how hungry I was and couldn’t wait to eat. When we sat down for dinner, I was three bites into my dressing when I discovered a hair in the food. I discreetly removed it from my mouth with my napkin, but was repulsed and couldn’t eat any more.
My hosts kept asking why I wasn’t eating when I had just recently proclaimed how hungry I was. I responded by saying I was full or I had had enough.
On our way home, my spouse asked me why I had stopped eating. When I told him, he was upset that I continued to let him eat the food, knowing what I had found.
If the food had been prepared by our friends, I could’ve been honest with them about what I found and even laughed it off. Since the food was prepared by the couple we didn’t know, I did not say anything. Was I in a no-win situation?
Gentle Reader • More than one, as your husband will attest. Miss Manners hopes that your husband will accept your apology and come to see the humor of the situation.
Dear Miss Manners • What is the polite response when served more than one can eat?
I visited my son, who had cooked a nice meal. Without prompting or asking, he served me and my guest what I consider to be huge portions of food. Neither of us were able to eat all we were served.
My son says that not to eat it all was wasteful and rude. I consider serving someone more than they can eat to be wasteful and rude.
Gentle Reader • Hosts, even sons, who attempt to force-feed their guests must be dealt with firmly. Protest — and, if your host persists, continue to protest — that while the food is excellent, you simply cannot eat another bite. Entering into specifics (“I ate a big lunch,”; “I’m allergic to eggplant,”; “It’s too fattening”) only invites an argument — just as eating the overgenerous portion only invites seconds.