DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am very pleased to see that the bouquet toss is omitted at many weddings these days. Although movies and TV shows depict eager young women joyously jostling to catch the bouquet, I’ve seldom seen that in real life. In fact, unmarried women often must be coaxed to sheepishly participate in the ritual.
I’m a 57-year-old widow of two years. At one wedding, a bridesmaid had the effrontery to try to recruit me to join the bouquet-catching crowd. I said “no” and she said they really needed more people and called another bridesmaid to help physically pull me onto the dance floor.
I told her that she was being very disrespectful and that no one had better grab me, as I was wearing shoes that might be very painful if I should accidentally kick someone while defending myself. She was stunned. The story passed around the wedding reception, with several people saying I was being a bad sport and others saying that trying to push a widow into the activity was in poor taste.
The bride, my lovely and loyal niece, told everyone that both she and I were sad that my late husband wasn’t there and that reminding me through highlighting my single state was unkind.
GENTLE READER: Dragging anyone — widow or not — into participating in a party activity is an assault on dignity and good manners, and, from your description, a literal one on your person as well. Miss Manners congratulates your niece on finding a diplomatic way to bring the situation under control without publicly taking sides. If necessary, the bridesmaid could have been moved to a private corner where she could be told to cease and desist.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband combines food on his fork and then rubs it around in a circular motion on his dish. His dinner dish is also very messy. Is it OK to combine food on a fork, i.e. meat and potatoes? How can I express to him that rubbing the food around in whatever sauce is on the plate is not acceptable?
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GENTLE READER: As with much of etiquette, the extent of the infraction depends not merely on the activity but on its intensity. Dipping a piece of meat into the sauce is not impolite; grinding it in until one can hear the tongs scraping against the china, is. Spearing a stray pea along with the carrots is not impolite; using your fingers to press the entire meal onto the tongs at once, is.
You might suggest to your husband that his activities are garnering unflattering attention and you would appreciate it if he took a more subtle approach. Wait until you next entertain so that you can do this after the guests go home. You can then leave to his imagination just who it is who is considering applying a fork to his person if he does not modify his eating habits.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.