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by Abigail Van Buren

Co-Workers Find It Impolite To Flout Dining Conventions

DEAR ABBY: I recently went on a business trip that required me to share meals with my co-workers. I became the target of criticism from them over my eating habits because I like to eat my dessert first. It doesn't keep me from eating the rest of the meal; I just do it in a different order than most people.

When the subject came up, I tried to explain that because I wasn't allowed to do it as a child, I swore that when I was an adult, I'd eat my food in any order I wanted. But lately, it has failed to diffuse the tension.

I don't think I'm being rude. I do this only at restaurants where it's possible to order dessert at the same time as the meal. I'd never do it when I'm a guest in someone's home.

Do you think I'm being rude? Should I eat in a more conventional way to avoid flak from people I'm dining with? -- SWEET TOOTH IN COLORADO

DEAR SWEET TOOTH: I'm not your mother, so I'll refrain from lecturing you about the empty calories you consume, which reduce your appetite for the healthy food you "should" be eating at mealtime. And yes, I do think what you're doing is rude because it is obviously making your eating companions uncomfortable, or you wouldn't be getting flak along with your dessert.

Read more in: Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics | Health & Safety