'Green' Dinner Hosts BYO Dinnerware
Each week, Miss Manners answers questions exclusively from the MSN audience on all of your etiquette dilemmas. (Have an issue you want help with? Send in a question today.) Read on for this week's hot topics:
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
My husband and I have been invited to dinner at a friend's house who is very "green" conscious. After accepting her invitation, we've been asked to bring our own dinnerware since she is not sufficiently equipped as she has recently moved into the city.
She says that because she is very environment-conscious, she shuns disposable dinnerware. Although I respect and admire her efforts at being "green", I am surprised that guests will be asked to get their own dinnerware when invited to dinner.
I almost want to take my own disposable dinnerware because the idea of carrying my plates, bowls, and glasses to her house, eating in them and cleaning them and bringing them back makes me feel uncomfortable.
One's contribution towards a greener planet is their own personal choice and in this case I feel pressurized into following her ideology of being green. Will it be bad etiquette for me to take disposable plates when the hosts shuns them? Am I making a big deal out of it?
Although Miss Manners agrees that your friend is imposing on you, she cannot condone deliberately violating the request. It is too bad that the terms were not stated until after you had accepted the invitation.
However, they only apply while you are in her house. There is nothing to stop you from bringing the sort of cheap picnic ware that is supposed to be reusable, and throwing it out when you get home.
DEAR MISS MANNERS,
Three of us had a few minutes free at work and started discussing various stands that we thought should be made to deter crime. One of the others made a comment about the death penalty and I agreed, being of a similar frame of mind. I mentioned a true story that happened in a big city a few years ago that involved a parent killing a child to make a point as to why I was for the death penalty .
One of the other people got very loud, saying they were very offended by what I had said and to go away because they were very upset by me.
I apologized at once and left. Later, I again apologized to them and told them how sorry I was that I upset them. I again was told to leave.
I have to work closely with this person daily and I am mortified that I offended them. Is there anything else I can do? I'm scared to offend them worse.
And people wonder why we can't discuss issues civilly.
Was this person the other parent of a slain child? Miss Manners doubts that. Even then, leaving the room in tears would have been preferable to ordering you to leave. And an apology that you were sorry to have touched a raw nerve would have been accepted.
But what you must have encountered instead, is the all-too-common attitude that anyone in disagreement over a political or philosophical question is too evil to be tolerated.
You were generous to apologize, and the refusal to accept this was another indication that you are dealing with someone who is rudely intolerant. All you can do now is to keep your interactions with this person on a strictly professional basis and not engage in any friendly discourse.
Judith Martin's latest book is No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice. She is also the author ofMiss Manners' Guide toExcruciatingly Correct Behavior(Freshly Updated). She and her husband, a scientist and playwright, live in Washington, D.C. They have two perfect children, of course.
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