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Some things should be done in private

Dear Miss Manners: We had my husband's brother to our home for a meal, and when his brother finished his salad, he quickly lifted the bowl up to his mouth to drink the remaining salad dressing.

I was grossed out. I told my husband after that I was not at all pleased. He said just about everyone does it, but usually when no one else is around.

How do you tell someone that this action was distasteful to you? I hope he never does it in a restaurant.

Gentle Reader: What was in the salad dressing? Never mind. What should have contained more vinegar was your response to your husband. You might suggest to him a few other activities that just about everyone does when no one else is around (although Miss Manners seriously doubts that drinking salad dressing is one of them).

Are these actions acceptable -- or some of them even legal -- when done in front of others? And were there not others present at the incident in question?

It may be easier to triumph over your husband than to reform a guest. If your brother-in-law attempts it again, you could say, "Wait, I'll get you a teacup for that."


Games people play

Dear Miss Manners: I have been playing in a weekly mahjong game (similar to cards) for several years. Of the six regular players, three of them repeatedly take cell phone calls from their teenage children during the game. None of these calls could be considered even close to an emergency and are of a trivial nature (e.g. their latest test score, they need more contact lenses, etc).

The offending players make all of us hold up play and listen to discussions lasting one or two minutes. One woman takes at least three phone calls an afternoon. The game only lasts for three hours.

I have tried modeling the correct etiquette when I have received an occasional call by quickly telling the caller that I was busy at the moment but would call them back later. I have tried to make a joke about how I've trained my family to not disturb the sacred time of mahjong. Nobody seems to get the hint. Is there anything I can say that will encourage my friends to keep their cell phone conversations to a minimum?

Gentle Reader: As a player of games, and a member of a group that meets regularly, you know about rules. Miss Manners suggests that you pick a time when you have not been so interrupted to make the general proposal that outside distractions, whether online shopping or telephone calls, not be allowed during the game.

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