DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have noticed a disturbing trend in airline travel: Passengers are increasingly bringing food on airplanes. This is understandable, given the inadequate amount of sustenance, if any, provided by the airlines. However, I do believe some manners and social customs should govern what kinds of food are appropriate for passengers to carry on an airplane.
To help, I would like to suggest a rule: Bringing odorous meals on an airplane is rude and socially unacceptable. Granola bars are benign, but french fries are offensive. Grapes are harmless, but pizza slices are impertinent. And so on.
Perhaps I am being a bit sensitive, as one friend has already suggested, but I leave it for you to make that determination. Before you do, I must add that this rule will not only free passengers and airline employees from feeling as if they are trapped in a flying pizza oven, but may also have the salutary effect of encouraging people to pursue a healthier lifestyle. But again, this is for you to decide and I now defer to your judgment.
GENTLE READER: The Law of the Air, as Miss Manners recognizes it, is "Try to stay out of my space and I'll try to stay out of yours."
You may notice that the wording is rather loose for an etiquette rule. This is because passenger space keeps getting smaller, and we may all soon be sitting in one another's laps instead of just leaning back on one another like fallen dominoes.
Thank you for pointing out that pungent food odors should be added to the list of things that should not be allowed to intrude on fellow passengers. These include noise, body parts and tales of woe. But Miss Manners must remind you that supervising other people's nutrition is also on that list.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Two friends of ours are expecting a baby to be born about a month before the date of our marriage. I want to make it clear that their child is welcome at our wedding, if they want to bring him/her.
I know the correct way to do this is to address the envelope to both parents and child, but since we don't know the gender or (obviously) the name of the expected baby, I ended up just writing "Mr. and Mrs. X and family," which seemed wrong. They did RSVP for all three of them, so obviously understood what I was trying to express; but is there a less impersonal way I could have addressed the envelope?
GENTLE READER: It is difficult to get personal with someone who has not yet made an appearance in this world. Miss Manners only hopes you did not succeed too well in your effort at being inclusive, and lead your friends to believe that the entire extended family was encouraged to show up.
It would have been gracious of you to wait until the baby was born, and then to add to your congratulatory letter "and we do hope you will bring little Zoe to the wedding."