DEAR MISS MANNERS: As with so many other people these days, I'm on quite a specific diet; in my case, a popular and well-known diet which has been mandated by my doctor. While there are no foods I'm forbidden to eat on this diet, I do have to be careful to stay within my daily nutritional allowances. I have a small booklet of nutritional values that helps me with this task.
As I spend more time on this diet, I'm becoming familiar with the values of most common foods, but I am occasionally confronted with something new and need to either reference my booklet or decline the offer (or possibly both, depending on what the booklet has to say on the matter). Is this checking something that can be done politely or should I simply decline treats of unknown nutritional value?
GENTLE READER: Were you planning on asking the hostess to hold off a minute while you looked it up in your book? And while the other guests chimed in: "What's the calorie count?" "Is it all natural ingredients?" "Any carbohydrates?" "What's the fiber content?"
Miss Manners admires your determination to stick to your diet, but you must show equal determination in sticking to your duty to your hostess not to disrupt the dinner. Even if this means that you miss out on something your diet would have allowed you to have had you only known.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I received a wedding invitation last week. I had not had time to reply to this invitation before I received a phone call from the mother of the groom asking me to please return the invitation, as the bride needed to resend the invitation to another person because she did not have enough invitations!
I have never heard of such a rude request regarding invitations. I returned the invitation post haste. Should I send my regrets (my husband I are not able to go to this wedding because of a conflict in plans), and am I obligated to send a gift to the bride and groom? Am I still to be counted as a guest, or has this status been removed because of the return of the invitation? Any advice would be appreciated.
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners would not ever -- ever -- advise anyone to fail to answer a wedding invitation. (Indeed, she hardly needs to. It seems to be what people do anyway.) But this time she is tempted.
Your invitation was, after all, rescinded. The possibility that the hosts had ordered too few invitations -- or that they intended to keep passing around a sample they got free -- is not worth dignifying as an excuse. If they couldn't re-order, they could invite the rest of the list by personal letter.
What she would be tempted to do, if she were you, would be to write a letter expressing best wishes to the bridal couple and regret that you will miss their wedding. Should she manage to overcome that temptation (please bear with her, as she is getting morally dizzy), she would say to the lady in question, "I don't quite understand whether I am expected." But then she might overcome her better nature as well, and add, "So I went ahead and made other plans."