DEAR MISS MANNERS: Why do we have to eat at almost every meeting, most functions and many classes? How does one politely decline to bring food without being ostracized and bringing attention to oneself?
With super-sizing our bodies and obesity being a concern, how can we turn this "must eat before and while functioning" (or rather "must eat constantly") mentality around?
What finally brought these questions to the surface was a call to bring a "dish to share" to the voting place for fellow workers, with an ending note that said "don't forget to bring food for yourself during the long day" -- food plus food!
I didn't volunteer to work in order to eat, nor to feed others. If I wanted to feed others I would volunteer, and I do on holidays and other days, to work in a soup kitchen.
Volunteer for a nonprofit organization or committee and the first things of business are "what kind of pizza do we order and what dish will you bring?" and then we need to decide where we will dine (paid for by the nonprofit organization) to celebrate the wonderful job our committee will do! It makes a lot more sense to me for each committee member to donate the monies that they would spend on the unneeded food to the organization and to save the nonprofit organization funds by foregoing the dining.
Sign up and pay for a night class of any kind (even diet or weight loss) and first thing, even before attendance is taken, the instructor says, "It has been suggested (and it is never disclosed by whom) that we all bring food for everyone to snack on before, during and after class; also we need to decide where we will eat at on the last night."
The airlines are finally (thanks to cost-cutting) getting away from the era of "fasten your seat belt, open your mouth, food's coming." Two breakfasts, lunch, dinner and snacks in between on a flight to attend a power breakfast is a little much even for Jack Spratt.
GENTLE READER: Well, sure, because Jack Spratt couldn't scarf the potato chips and the cheese dip. He ate no fat, remember?
Although Miss Manners shares your reaction, she would like to believe that the emphasis on constant snacking has to do with the spread of the hospitable impulse. She is, however, afraid it is more likely connected with the highly regrettable demise of proper meals.
You will not be able to reform this practice, but you can refrain from participating. As plans are made, you should say, without rancor, "Count me out, I won't be eating." Miss Manners is sure she does not have to remind you that after that, it is no fair snacking.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I gave my girlfriend diamond earrings for Christmas and she dumped me a week ago. She admitted she was thinking about breaking up before Christmas. Should I expect them back?
GENTLE READER: Not likely. Just a guess, but a lady who disobeys the etiquette rule against accepting valuable jewelry from a gentleman to whom she is not related -- and to the extent of accepting this from a gentleman she is thinking of dropping -- does not strike Miss Manners as someone devoted to the rule about returning love tokens from a defunct romance.