Miss Manners

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I married my husband last May, however I have yet to change my last name. At first I used our honeymoon and the need for my passport to match my ID as a reason. Then we bought a house and I didn't want to delay our closing due to our documents not matching my name.

Now my husband keeps asking me when I am going to change my name, and I have run out of excuses. This has caused me to do some self-reflection, coming to the conclusion that I am afraid to give up my last name. I am in my early 30s and have established myself firmly in both politics and my career in the metroplex where we live. I don't want to switch my middle name for my maiden name because my sister picked out my middle name.

What is the proper etiquette for marriage in your 30s and changing your last name? Is it OK to keep both last names? Should the last names be hyphenated?

GENTLE READER: What you call yourself is entirely up to you -- not Miss Manners. What etiquette does care about is that you not chastise or lecture others for getting it wrong.

However, tact and sensitivity when presenting your decision to your husband (and sympathy for your children, if they have to juggle multi-hyphenated names) are always appreciated.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My parents frequently host longtime friends and neighbors for dessert and a chat after dinner and a movie night. Dessert is frequently cake or pie.

My mother often slices the dessert in advance of the event. I personally would prefer to see the dessert being cut, as it offers the illusion of freshness. I commented that I think she should wait until the guests have arrived before cutting so they may offer input on how big of a slice they would prefer.

She replied that since the guests are seated in the other room and the dessert is not presented as a whole, it does not matter. She added that restaurants do not usually display the entire cake before bringing you a slice.

Our friends and neighbors host my parents for the same event on alternate weeks. I asked my mother whether they wait to cut the dessert. My mother replied, yes, and that it takes almost 10 minutes. Time considerations aside, when is the correct time to cut the cake?

GENTLE READER: Before it is eaten and after it cools. Miss Manners agrees with you about seeing a cake in all its majesty and avoiding waste. But she does find it tedious to hear guests ask for "half of that", "no, half of that", "no, smaller", "no, smaller than that" until the desired crumb is achieved.

There is something about bringing out slices that makes one imagine a decoration disaster in the kitchen, or that leftovers are being served. Miss Manners suggests cupcakes or individual desserts as a compromise.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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