DEAR MISS MANNERS: I drove through my neighborhood's relatively new beer barn for the first time yesterday. It is at a busy, slightly derelict intersection. You drive in, open a window and tell the girl in a bikini what you want.
Perfect for fat guys whose beer bellies aren't gigantic enough. I assume part of the business model includes the girl in the bikini being underpaid and expecting tips from fellows who find her appearance compelling.
As a gay man with a tiny rainbow Texas on my license plate (covering up the actual silhouette of Texas thereon), am I exempt from this? If a man of similar age, attire and friendliness served me in the same situation, I'd give him a dollar.
GENTLE READER: Is it any wonder that Miss Manners hates tipping questions?
Etiquetteers are supposed to be stalwarts of the tipping system. Supposedly, they are the only creatures on Earth who neither quail (for fear of under or overestimating the amount) nor swagger (with the desire to impress or punish) when expected to tip.
But the fact is that reasonable tipping is dependent not only the price paid, but on such variables as the custom of the region, the degree of luxury of the establishment and the frequency with which the same service is used. It is therefore impossible to give a standard answer.
And now you go and add the element of how much erotic appeal the server has to the customer. Thanks. Miss Manners doesn't doubt that consideration of this might apply to some, but perhaps not to the etiquette-conscious.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have always been under the impression that one wears neither white nor black to a wedding: the former, of course, to avoid upstaging the bride and the latter because it seems gloomy.
Nonetheless, in attending weddings in recent years, I have seen many women guests (and, through photos, guests at Chelsea Clinton's wedding) wearing black, as though "black tie" meant black for the women as well.
My adult daughter and I disagree on this, so perhaps it is a generational shift. Please clarify the preferred practice for us. I remain convinced that attending a wedding in black may make one look slim but also despondent.
GENTLE READER: If an entire generation agreed with your daughter, Miss Manners would have to tell you to accept the change. There was a similar change, nearly a century ago, when the prolonged wearing of mourning was abandoned, making way for the "little black dress" on ordinary festive occasions.
However, how come the same people argue against wearing black to funerals "because it's too depressing"? It is especially in connection with the deaths of young people that wearing "bright colors" is sometimes specifically requested, as if to deny the awful and solemn finality of the service.
So apparently the association of black with death survives. And we know that color symbolism prevails at weddings, or what are all those brides -- young or old, first marriage or fifth -- doing in those huge (or slinky) white dresses?
So you and Miss Manners are not the only ones who find that the same black dress deemed chic -- or just "safe" -- at a party brings an aura of pathos to a wedding.