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THE SERVER TURNS SOUR

Dear Abby: I have never seen this topic addressed in your column. My wife and I love to eat out. Over the past year, however, we have both been trying to shed some weight and eat more sensibly. A solution that has worked for us is sharing one meal. One meal is often more than enough to satisfy the both of us.

Our problem: Every time we order one meal for the two of us instead of two meals, the service turns sour. This happens often, even though we tip as though we had bought two meals since the server had to serve two people. It is upsetting because we have found that sharing a meal allows us to continue eating out without going off our diets.

The attitude we encounter is almost always rude and condescending. I'd be interested in your opinion.

-- Diner in the Midwest
Dear Diner: Look at it from the server's point of view. Even though you tip for two, the server doesn't know that until the end of the meal -- so it may not be surprising that you're noticing a chill.

On the other hand, it's not unusual for diners to split a meal, and they do it for a variety of reasons. Since restaurants are supposed to offer hospitality as well as food, when you encounter problems with a server, you should discuss it with the manager (or try another restaurant).

Separate work from family

Dear Abby: I am being married in three months. It is my fiance "John's" second marriage and my third. I would like to invite the president of the company John works for, and also his direct boss, the regional manager. I told John that it is only common courtesy, and there might be hurt feelings if they are not invited.

John said he prefers to keep his business life separate from his personal life. He asked me to respect his wishes, but I don't want to risk slighting his bosses for fear it will cause him problems later.

It worries me that maybe John is ashamed of me, or that he is afraid he won't be able to relax with them at our wedding, but he says that's not why he prefers we not invite them. I know it's not the cost, Abby; there's more than enough money to include guests, so that can't be why he asked me not to invite them.

If they don't want to attend, that's fine, but at least they'll have the option. What do you think?

-- Bride-to-Be
Dear B-t-B: Ask your fiance for a list of the guests he wants invited to the wedding -- and respect his wishes. He knows his bosses better than you do. If they receive an invitation, they may regard it as a bid for a gift. Don't do it.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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