Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My 16-year-old son likes a young lady who lives in our neighborhood. He told to me that he would like to take her to the movies for their first date. I am a little nervous to say yes because this is first time my son has expressed to me this type of feeling toward a young lady. I think I would like to chaperone my son on his date. I don't want to embarrass my son, but I want him to have a great time. What is a mother to do? -- Mother May I, Memphis, Tenn.

DEAR MOTHER MAY I: Going to the movies can be a nice first date. What's even nicer is that your son is asking your permission to set it up. At age 16, it is normal for him to want to court a young lady. I suggest that you remind him of boundaries and appropriate behavior and let him go, with your blessing. If he has his own money, that's great. If he needs financial support, give him what it costs for the two tickets plus a little extra for snacks. You want him to feel empowered during the date to be a gentleman.

Give him a curfew. When he comes home, give him a little space. You can ask him how his date went, but let him reveal details. He could easily be a little uncomfortable about talking about this first time that he has invited a girl to go out. Over time, ease information out of him. If he seems to like this young lady, suggest that he invite her over sometime for a meal so that you can meet her.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I placed an order with a local restaurant, and at the end of the order I told them that I would come to the restaurant to pick it up. When the food was ready, I went to the restaurant to pay. The cashier asked if I would like to leave a tip. I did not leave a tip because I went to the restaurant pick up my food. Do you think I should have left a tip? What is the proper etiquette when it comes to tipping for picking up an order? -- Hungry Man, Chicago

DEAR HUNGRY MAN: As you might imagine, there are varying opinions on this topic. People who have worked in food service suggest that you should leave something, up to 10 percent of the bill, because people who work at the restaurant prepared the food, packaged it and got it ready for you to pick up.

I would say that if you placed a very large or complicated order or if the restaurant did something else above and beyond the basics, it would be thoughtful to add a small tip. Outside of that, though, I do not subscribe to the automatic tip for takeout.

When it comes to eating in, 20 percent or more is the norm to follow unless you receive horrible service.