DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband’s mother has recently begun dating a man who is a bit forward -- a bit space-invading.
One of my biggest issues is that he’ll often ask to try my drink. He’ll ask when I am caught off guard and not in a position to say “no” without seeming rude. I probably wouldn’t mind if he had been around for years, but I only just met him about six months ago, and am a bit particular about germs.
For example, at their home (which we visit every weekend or so), there will be only enough wine left for one glass. My mother-in-law, her boyfriend and my husband all insist that they don’t want it, and someone offers me the glass. I’ll eventually concede. And then he will ask for a sip, because he “just wants to try it for next time.”
Sometimes, my mother-in-law will chime in and say, “Oh, of course you can have a sip!” before I answer. This has happened 15-plus times now. I usually end up giving him a sip, but don’t really like sharing germs, especially with someone I’m not close with (though I do share with my husband).
How can I say no without being rude? This also happens when we’re out to eat, when I’ve ordered a drink and he has gotten something else. At our home, I just jump up and grab him his own glass under the pretense of insisting that he deserves it.
They’ve asked us not to visit if we’re not feeling well, so once we’re there, I can’t use the “I think I’m coming down with a cold” excuse to keep my drink to myself.
GENTLE READER: You could point out that he could come down with a lot worse.
Miss Manners is astonished to hear that the always disconcerting habit of asking to share someone’s food or drink (“No, no, I just want a bite/sip”) is surviving after what everyone has been through.
But even without that excuse, you should steel yourself to say no. In this case, you could hand him the drink saying, “Here, you finish it; I don’t want any more.”
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)