DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I purchased a nonfiction title about 1,300 pages in length, logic would suggest that with a work-a-day life, it will take some time to finish.
My girlfriend reads a good deal herself, and has plenty of her own reading material, but almost every time I see her reading lately, she's in the middle of the same copy I purchased for myself to read. I am not wholly frustrated by the fact, but I do feel as if I have purchased a meal that, before I've had a chance to finish, someone else has started to nibble from it, or someone has tried on my new shirt before I've had a chance to wear it.
What are the rules of etiquette for addressing this situation? Or maybe a better question would be, is there anything here worth addressing?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners suggests that you address the lady before you find yourself addressing a courtroom to explain why you had to dispatch her.
Although she thinks of herself as a tolerant soul who is always urging people to make allowances for one another's little foibles, Miss Manners can be pushed too far. And appropriating a book that a housemate is in the middle of reading is a classic definition of Too Far. If the lady is also making little noises of amusement or astonishment as she reads, or relating favorite parts to you, it is beyond all human decency.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was dining on rabbit at an upscale restaurant when I noticed I had a small bone in my mouth. Now, I am not an expert on etiquette, but I seemed to recall that when one finds something disagreeable in their mouth at dinner, the proper course of action is to lift your fork to your mouth and discreetly discard the unpalatable item on your fork, and replace it on your plate.
My girlfriend found this offensive and called me on it. I tried to explain that I thought it was proper etiquette but she wasn't buying it. Can you help clear this matter up for us?
GENTLE READER: Yes, yes, you are right: inedible parts are discreetly taken out the way they went in (fork or fingers), with the exception that, although fish is eaten with a fork, the fingers are used to remove bones from the mouth.
But what Miss Manners wants to clear up is what alternative the lady proposed. Lodging the bone in your mouth until you left the restaurant? Swallowing it? Did you have a quarrel before the incident that you failed to mention?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I got an invitation to a floating shower for a wedding. What is this? I was told by a friend that you drop off the gift and are given a covered meal and leave. Can this be true?
GENTLE READER: Oh, sure. There are a lot of greedy people floating around, and one of them was bound to come up with the idea of collecting the loot without having to associate with the donors. The next clever person will think of charging for the meal.
Meanwhile, Miss Manners has a question of her own:
Can it be true that people comply with such instructions?