Order your copy of Minding Miss Manners now.

Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Husband’s Table Topics Need Refining

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I are both retired and normally get along great.

When we have no dinner planned, we both eat leftovers, sometimes at different times. This evening, I sat down for a leftover pork chop, noodles and a glass of merlot. My husband joined me to converse, but was not hungry yet. Then he started talking about his day’s activities.

As background, there’s been a used prophylactic on the street in front of our house for weeks that the street sweeper somehow keeps missing. As I was trying to enjoy my dinner, my husband went into a long discourse about how he removed it from the street

I promptly left the table, stowed my leftovers and ran into our guest room, locking myself in. The only thing I castigate myself about is that I hurled invectives while escaping.

Was I wrong, or was he completely out of line with his chosen subject of dinnertime conversation?

GENTLE READER: It should not require fleeing and swearing to convince someone that when one is eating -- or even when not -- graphic details on unsavory activities are offensive. So is foul language, with or without food.

Miss Manners suggests that after you apologize for your drama, you remind your husband that dinnertime manners and conversation are still required, even if only one party is actually eating.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a young professional woman who uses a dating app to meet potential suitors. It seems that the traditional rules of correspondence have gotten somewhat muddled.

I use a particular dating app that requires both parties to “match” with each other before they can begin conversing. However, I find that many of the men with whom I match (meaning we have both expressed interest in each other) are taciturn when it comes to actually exchanging messages.

I generally start these conversations with a question about some interest they express in their profile, but their responses are often terse and not accompanied by a similar question for me. I do not want a conversation with a potential mate to feel like pulling teeth, so I have a habit of “unmatching” these men.

What is the appropriate amount of time I should wait, or number of one-sided questions I should answer, before unmatching them? Or is it rude to do at all?

GENTLE READER: The usual rules of socialization apply here; it is just the technology that is different.

If you did not have a successful date with someone, you would not make another. But you also would not call them to tell them to stop contacting you. After a conversation’s worth of tersely answered questions, Miss Manners recommends that you simply stop pursuing the relationship. If the gentleman wants to know why, he can follow up with an interesting question himself.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: When a colleague informs us of taking time off to attend a funeral, is there a polite way to ask who died?

GENTLE READER: Because you want to issue a more personal and heartfelt condolence? Or to find out if the relationship with the deceased genuinely merits missing work?

Miss Manners is trying not to suspect the latter. But “I am so sorry. Were you close?” should politely cover both options. She warns you to resist persisting further, however, if the answer is simply “yes.”

(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.)