DEAR MISS MANNERS: With masks now required for entering restaurants that are opening at reduced capacity, how do we handle conversations and eating? I can’t imagine going back to my favorite restaurant and relaxing while masked. The experience is ruined, even at an outside table, and I would be more relaxed at home.
And I am really puzzled about tipping for curbside, as opposed to tipping for inside (or outside) dining. Are there new rules? What are they, or what should they be?
GENTLE READER: You are not the only one who finds such a prospect unappealing, a reality that restaurants are struggling to address. Staying in is the only alternative to following the rules.
Miss Manners is not a fan of tipping: She prefers that employers pay staff a living wage. But recognizing that it exists, she feels it would be gracious to apply the more generous rules for in-person dining to curbside pickup, as a measure of thanks for those working under trying conditions.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My lovely wife and I have celebrated 48 years of marriage. We had a fairly small wedding, though we invited about 200 guests. Half of them were to come from my fiancee’s hometown, with the other half mostly couples my parents knew. Only about eight guests were friends of mine.
Neither my wife nor I were, or are now, in the same social circle as most of these people. Only about 22 people from my parents’ list showed up. From the others: no show, no gifts, no regrets and no RSVPs. From my fiancee’s hometown, just about everyone RSVP’d and brought or sent gifts. It was embarrassing, with one side of the church full and the other about 15%.
Over the years, we have received invitations to children’s and grandchildren’s baptisms, bar mitzvahs, confirmations and weddings, although we are still not in the same social circles as these people. Many years ago, I started giving inexpensive “invitation trays” as gifts for these events. My wife thinks I should get a more expensive gift from their registries.
My argument is: Why, exactly, should I purchase an expensive gift for people I don’t know, when no one in their family acknowledged my existence when I was married? The only time I ever hear from them is when they want a gift.
GENTLE READER: Contrary to popular belief, cost and graciousness are not, to borrow your phrase, in the same social circle.
So if you are going to contextualize the question as you did, Miss Manners instead asks, “Why should you purchase a gift at all, expensive or otherwise?” You need only decline these invitations.
But while their behavior around your wedding was rude, you may also not wish to reveal that you have been carrying a grudge for 48 years. Whether their current behavior is as gift-grubbing as you believe, or a genuine attempt to reconnect a tenuous relationship, will be hard to assess if you never attend.
(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.)