Miss Manners

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Baked Alaska is vexing me ... it seems to want every sort of utensil because of all its textures.

Would the older way have been ice cream forks and perhaps dessert knives? Surely there were not actually baked Alaska spoons. What might a poor hostess with less than a full intimidating set of flatware use instead?

GENTLE READER: Baked Alaska spoons! What a good idea. And how curious that they were not invented, as that dessert was first made in the 19th century, just when the vogue for specialized silverware was raging.

Fortunately, it can be eaten anyway. Do you have ice cream forks (round bowls with wide tines)? Probably not, as that Victorian proliferation of tools so terrified diners everywhere that it has all but disappeared.

But you presumably have forks and oval spoons, which are the standard dessert service for treats that involve both something crumbly that can be cut with the side of the fork, and something gooey.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A dear friend of my family wanted to have a baby shower for me (I'm the pregnant one) and my wife. I like the idea of my wife and I celebrating our impending motherhood with a small group of friends and family, but we are both absolutely opposed to registries or even events where gifts are expected.

We are very well able to supply all our needs ourselves, and we don't want anybody to feel obligated to bring anything. If some bring gifts and others don't, I'm worried that those without gifts will feel embarrassed.

What should I tell the friend who would like to throw us the party about how to word the invitation? Also, what does one do at such a party? The baby shower activities we've read about seem a little silly.

GENTLE READER: That Miss Manners shares your feeling does not change the fact that presents and silly games are the chief characteristics of baby showers. Therefore, what you should tell your hospitable friend is how much you appreciate the offer, but that you would truly rather not have a shower, and hope to see her and your other friends for visits to meet the new baby.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I run a health care office, and I've just been solicited by a former patient to fund her further education on GoFundMe. I know this is now a "thing" to ask for money on the internet, but I am uncomfortable with this and don't want to set a precedent. She is a very sweet young woman and I support her goals, but I really don't care to participate. She lives locally and I do not wish to antagonize her, so what would be a good response to this sort of thing? I also don't want to ignore her email, which would be rude.

GENTLE READER: Is your in-box not overflowing with letters from enterprising people from all over the world, who announce that they hope they find you well and then ask for money? Do you feel rude if you delete these without replying?

Miss Manners assures you that there are only two acceptable responses to solicitations for money: 1. Ignore. Or 2. Give.

(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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