DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I eat steak, I like to cut my steak into smaller pieces. Then, after doing so, I stab the cut portion of steak with my knife and place it in my mouth. I was recently chastised by my new girlfriend for doing so.
I have eaten my steak like this since I was a young boy. I felt my girlfriend was wrong, since I've never been corrected for eating my steak this way.
Will you please help me explain to my girlfriend that there is no wrong way to eat a Texas steak?
GENTLE READER: Sure there is. Chomping off the cow, for example.
Are you, perchance, under the delusion that manners are only for use on formal occasions, by the sissies who go to such things, and that it is manly to be slipshod?
(And yes, Miss Manners threw in the "perchance" to goad you, just as you are persisting in your eating habit to goad your girlfriend.)
Or perhaps you are just extremely old-fashioned. Eating from the point of a knife was commonplace until it was roundly condemned about 200 years ago, when the fork came into widespread use. And cutting up all the meat before it is eaten is done only for small children not yet trusted to wield knives.
That you were not told this before is a shame. But now you know.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recently asked a first date with a lady who had hinted to me that she would welcome a more-than-casual relationship between us. I took her to a pleasant and quiet restaurant, hoping that we could get to know each other better.
Her cell phone rang 10 minutes after our arrival at the restaurant, and she proceeded to have a lengthy conversation with the caller. A few minutes later, this was repeated with another caller and then, just after we finished our main course and were awaiting dessert, it happened again with a third caller.
From what I could hear of the conversations, none were of an urgent nature.
During the third call and subsequent conversation, I took sufficient cash to pay for our meals (plus a generous tip), placed it on the table and interrupted her long enough to say that perhaps we could do this again when she wasn't so busy and left her sitting there, cell phone in hand.
We had taken a cab to the restaurant so I'm afraid she would have incurred the expense of a cab to get herself home.
Was I wrong to expect her to turn her phone off or at least inform her callers she was busy and promise to call back later? She has let all our mutual friends know how terribly rude I was to her.
GENTLE READER: That makes five instances of repeated rudeness on her side and none on yours, presuming that you handled the matter as civilly as you indicate. Miss Manners would say that you did the lady a favor by giving her the privacy to enjoy the relationships she already has.