DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I have been separated for two years. We have three adult children and three young grandchildren. He is much closer to many members of my family than his own family and therefore we are in social situations often. We have a friendly relationship.
He started dating about six months ago and although I already knew this, he only informed me one week before his big 60th birthday party. He gave me a courtesy call. It took him two hours to finally stop by me to introduce her.
I have since been told that it was my place to initiate the introductions. I fail to see the logic in that. Whose responsibility was it?
GENTLE READER: Just when Miss Manners believes that the annals of etiquette contain rulings on everything and she can retreat to the porch swing, a new issue comes along. Whoops, we forgot to rule on the issue of precedence in instances of friendly husbands introducing their wives and mistresses.
Indeed, the wife does have seniority. But if you have managed to maintain friendly relations under such volatile circumstances, Miss Manners would not advise risking them on this point.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My partner and I enjoy fruit after lunch and dinner. I'm afraid, however, that we don't know how to eat fruit with a knife and fork, but would like to learn. Would Miss Manners be so kind as to give a lesson? We promise not to show off our newly learned skills on future guests who haven't yet learned (or torture them, or make them feel inferior).
GENTLE READER: That's all right -- you can commit proper table manners in front of your guests. Just don't peer at them to check whether they are doing it right. That might be hard to avoid if they have apples or bananas protruding from their mouths, but remember that they may be employing equally correct, if less formal, manners.
The basic way of eating fruit with the small, narrow but sharp fruit knife and fork is to stab with the fork, cut the fruit into halves or quarters with the knife, and then convey pieces to the mouth with the fork. Miss Manners is speaking here of apples, pears, peaches and even bananas, but would not advise trying this with anything small or squishy.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Recently, before church, a lady asked for my address, as she was planning a social event. Instead of recording my address in her address book, she hands me an envelope (which I wrote my address on, in shock), an envelope which I received in the mail this morning. This lady is prone to planning events in which guests are commanded (sometimes in detail) to bring their own food, drink, utensils, chairs, and entertainment. Why she supposes that she is the person doing the hosting, I cannot say. But at any rate, must we "guests" be expected to address our own invitations as well?
GENTLE READER: And your own expression of regret at not being able to attend, Miss Manners would think.