DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recently have been appointed to the board of directors of a small nonprofit organization. Monthly meetings are held Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m. and seem to last no more than an hour and a half. As far as I can tell, there are only five or six members on the board and they will rotate hosting responsibilities.
Apparently, there is always a substantial array of food that at any other time of day would constitute a rather hearty three-course meal, heavy on the calories and carbohydrates. A generous allowance for food at these gatherings is actually built into the budget. Since I usually enjoy a late morning brunch on Sunday, I have politely eschewed these refreshments.
However, it will eventually be my turn to host the meeting in my home. I would like to offer something more healthful and appropriate to the occasion and time of day. Would it be unthinkably rude to serve only some oatmeal cookies and maybe a few nuts to nibble, rather than meat loaf and chocolate eclairs?
GENTLE READER: These are good intentions, and they will get you off to a really bad start.
Members who do not enjoy a late Sunday brunch, but have expected to enjoy filling up at the afternoon meetings, are going to be seriously cranky when they find only nibbles where the goodies are supposed to be. Furthermore, the reduced spread will be interpreted as your being miserly or worse, since the food money is in the budget.
Miss Manners reminds you that there is a reason that newcomers to an established group are supposed to spend a few sessions observing before attempting to make changes. You can add what you like to the menu, but you cannot change its nature without the concurrence of the other members. You will need to learn how to persuade them, because believing that you are acting to preserve their health is no excuse for failing to obtain their consent.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it impolite for one of the bride's attendants to wear an engagement ring during the festivities (given that the bridesmaid is newly engaged)?
GENTLE READER: No, but Miss Manners is puzzled about the thinking that prompted this question.
Is it the idea that bridesmaids are a chorus line backup for the bride, and are supposed to suppress their individuality for aesthetic unity, even down to their own symbols of attachment? Or that the excitement of this lady's new engagement would somehow detract from that of the wedding?
Either notion would be a sorry negation of what bridesmaids are really supposed to be: the bride's dearest friends, all of whom are individuals with lives of their own. The bride is supposed to care enough about them to wish them happiness, and should be especially disposed to appreciate the happiness of love and marriage. And certainly nothing detracts the proper attention from a wedding as a self-centered bride.