DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a digestive issue that requires me to make certain accommodations to avoid a lot of unpleasantness for days to come.
At meals, I restrict myself to small portions and can’t even think about rich desserts. I also feel much more comfortable in loose clothing.
The problem developed during the pandemic. Now that I am back to seeing some people, I find they can’t refrain from annoying comments on my eating habits and clothing choices.
As you can imagine, they assume I’m trying to maintain my weight (I’d actually like to gain some back) and say things like, “Oh, you can afford it” or “One bite won’t kill you.”
Regarding clothing, unable to look at one more pair of sweats or yoga pants, I often wear dresses. Neighbors ask why I’m so “dressed up.” The hostess at the first gathering I’d attended in two years actually implied I was overdressed and making others uncomfortable.
I’d love to indulge in a great meal or fantastic dessert or wear my skinny jeans again, but the aftermath just isn’t worth it. (Why skinny jeans you have to slither into are considered more laid-back than a dress you pull over your head is beyond me, but that’s another story.)
I especially hate to demur when a guest brings a great dessert, but I must. I don’t think I owe these people a detailed medical history, but simply referring to a “medical issue” can make it sound too serious.
GENTLE READER: It seems to be a universally accepted truth that all people really want to do is indulge in fattening foods while wearing sweatpants. And that anyone who claims otherwise is only in need of coercion or bullying in order to succumb.
Insisting that they give in to the temptation is doing no one’s powder rooms any favors.
If you do not wish to oblige them by making yourself sick, you must stand firm. A repeated “No, thank you” will do — or, if you feel you must, “I’m afraid that I simply cannot, but I am happy to live vicariously through you. It looks delicious.”
And jeans, while pleasant for some, are like sausage casings for others. A good high-necked dress or a suit and tie may be genuinely more comfortable. (Miss Manners has more than one gentleman friend who prefers to wear the latter while aboard an airplane — or even while taking a nap.)
She therefore suggests that you gently counter-shame these narrow-minded comfort-seekers: “On the contrary, my intention was not to make others uncomfortable, but to be comfortable myself. Surely you are not in the habit of defining that for others.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have always felt that people who invite others to attend an event, knowing they can’t attend because they live far away in another state, are just asking for a gift in their absence. Thoughts on this?
GENTLE READER: Or — and humor Miss Manners on this — people just have friends who live in other states.
Granted, societal greed has reached epic proportions, but accepting the idea that invitations are issued only to extract presents is too cynical even for Miss Manners. She would ask, therefore, that you still try to assume the best, keeping in mind that attendance and present-giving are always optional.
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.