DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a single, older, divorced woman, and over the years, I have been the target of inappropriate advances and sexual comments by married male acquaintances. In the past, I have brushed these off, but I now feel that this lack of respect deserves a reply.
In addition, these men (and others) try to attract my attention by being “cute,” which I find most annoying. I do nothing that I can think of to attract this unwanted attention. I am friendly, open, and have an optimistic view of life that seems to attract these type of folks.
What is the appropriate response?
GENTLE READER: Just as there are levels of offensive remarks, from the tasteless joke to the smarmy compliment to the outright proposition, there are levels of responses — from the cold stare to the abrupt and wordless departure, on up to “How dare you?” said loud enough to attract others’ attention.
Miss Manners assures you that when administered, these are more effective than any lecture about sexism, which such an offender is bound to take as cute.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Butter rules, please.
Stick butter in a butter dish with a lid is common. But I really haven’t found anything I like to use for a round butter/canola oil spread, or heart-healthy spreadable butter products. I have some crockery-type dishes, some with lids, that look OK for everyday use, but not for holiday dinners.
If butter bowls exist, where do you find them? I can’t bring myself to just put on the table the plastic container the butter spread came in.
Also, could you discuss butter knives? If you buy a set of cutlery for eight, you get two butter knives. Does that mean four people to a butter knife? That doesn’t seem right. Where do the butter knives go on a place setting?
GENTLE READER: You don’t happen to have a butter curler, do you? No, Miss Manners thought not. Anyway, a spread might not hold a curl.
Forgive the digression. She was just pointing out that butter lends itself to whimsy. Butter curls are served on tiny individual round dishes.
But yes, there are round butter bowls with lids that come in fine china or cut glass, and you can find dozens of them online.
But you cannot expect your guests to share individual butter knives. The ones that are sold in sets are servers for everyone to use, cutting butter from the communal source. If the butter is intended for a vegetable, they can put some on the side of their plates.
But if you are serving bread, you might want to have bread plates to the left of the dinner plate, and to invest in individual butter knives, which would be laid crosswise on the bread plate, with the handle toward the diner. They need not match your set.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I don’t understand why people are offended when a bridal shower invite indicates gift cards. I am OK with people asking for what they want; we look at registries where people do just that. What’s the difference? In my opinion, it saves time.
GENTLE READER: There is no difference. Like registries, this saves the donors not only time, but also from having to exercise thoughtfulness. If it is the bride’s desire to collect shopping power, free of sentiment, this should do it.