DEAR MISS MANNERS: Where are those elusive "dessert spoons" that you mention? I don't find them; the department store can't find them.
Are they hiding in my silver chest in the soup-spoon section? Are soup spoons an acceptable substitute, or are they one and the same?
This is a new one on me. I've always used teaspoons, salad forks and ice cream forks for desserts.
GENTLE READER: Well, we all do what we can to survive in primitive times.
Miss Manners remembers when the tablespoons now used for dishing out vegetables were individual soup spoons; the oval spoons now used for soup were dessert spoons (which sometimes came with small dessert forks and knives in attack-all-goodies sets), and no one would dream of using a teaspoon for anything but stirring tea.
As you have discovered, it has all been downgraded. One of these days we'll be pecking at our food with demitasse spoons and lemon forks. That is, those who are still able to master the apparently complicated skill of holding a fork.
In the meantime, there are two respectable ways of dealing with the situation. One is to revert to the method used before the mid-Victorian explosion of specialized flatware, and use two sizes for everything: a large oval spoon for soup and desserts, along with a large fork and knife for meat courses; and a smaller-sized knife and fork for appetizers, fish courses and, when needed, desserts.
The second method involves time, money and flea markets.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Twice a year I share a hotel room with another woman in our company for three to four nights. I think we should be thoughtful to one another when it comes to setting an early wake-up call.
She likes to rise extremely early to exercise, therefore waking me up one to two hours before I really want to be awakened. I am not exactly a light sleeper, but I cannot go back to a slumber after the alarm sounds.
She says everyone is free to sound the alarm whenever they please. I think she is being rude. What do you think? I need more sleep to function well at these conferences we attend. It makes the day really long when the alarm sounds at 5:30 a.m.
GENTLE READER: Really? She declares that all people, presuming including everyone in her hotel room, are free to sound the alarm whenever they please?
No, let's not go there. Miss Manners does not suggest that you follow the purported etiquette rules of someone who does not recognize any need for considering the well-being of others.
It is time for you to go to the person who handles arrangements at your company and request another roommate. Your point should be that the behavior of your present roommate prevents you from getting the rest that you need to be in top working form.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I are amicably ending our 21-year marriage and keeping a good friendship we both prize. We are wondering how we tell friends of our pending divorce. (We have already told family.)
Our reasons for divorce are complex and personal. Is there an easy "answer" to the question of why we're divorcing?
GENTLE READER: You are divorcing "by mutual consent." That is the only reason that civilized people divorce.