Reader Response to Coffee Service, Vol. 4, Issue 24

A couple readers have already made memorable responses to Etiquetteer's column on Perfectly Proper coffee service in an era with too many kinds of coffee, sweeteners, and dairy products:

From a Southern development professional: I will try to follow your advice and "make do" without my preferred non-dairy creamer (either powdered or liquid) even though I am lactose intolerant and any dairy creamer causes me some, er, discomfort later on. I will take it black instead I think.

Etiquetteer responds: Really, you ought to start traveling with your own supply of non-dairy creamer. Like those who have to take pills at mealtime, your non-dairy creamer keeps your health in check and, significantly, keeps you and those around you from experiencing your "discomfort."

From a distinguished Southern matron: I hate to ruin your day but this is the year 2006 and the coffee ritual has changed in the last hundred years! I must admit to being a bit put off when one of my house guests pulled a bottle of "creamer" from her suitcase since she didn't want to inconvenience me with buying a special hazelnut fakery. You've already shown us ways to offer sweetener packets at home and I really like them better.

Also you failed to note that clear glass containers sized for this purpose and used in restaurants are available everywhere.

As to the disposal of the paper packets, I fold the empty packet so the server can see it's empty, then place it on the saucer or on the table beside the mug. Bye the bye, you'll be happy to know that should I come to your house for coffee I drink it black, as Nature intended it to be drunk.

Etiquetteer responds: Etiquetteer is really going to have to Wag an Admonitory Digit at your house guest. Contrary to the reader above, whose special stash is used to manage a medical condition, your house guest dishonors your preparations for her enjoyment by indulging in personal preference. The message she’s sending is that anything you do for her will not be good enough. Some people may think Etiquetteer is being harsh here, but Etiquetteer remains firm that bringing one’s own refreshments to a party looks like one cares more about one’s own desires than about the feelings of others.

And as to those little glass containers, may the Deity of Your Choice protect us from the day when we all have to decorate our homes just like restaurants. Etiquetteer would rather see something more harmonious to achieve true Perfect Propriety.

Dear Etiquetteer: 

A very dear friend just announced her engagement, and I have a two-part inquiry for you:

Part 1: Is it true that the location and wedding dress should achieve some kind of harmony and set a tone for the event? For example, an afternoon garden wedding for 60 people might not warrant the donning of a bejeweled gown complete with train and ballgown skirt?

Part 2: What is the most Perfectly Proper way to indicate the above to a dear friend?

Dear Meddling:

Etiquetteer must agree with you that a wedding dress should be appropriate for the time and place of the wedding. American brides, however, have been flouting this Pillar of Perfect Propriety for decades. Somehow they believe that just because some man offered his hand in marriage they have the Divine Right to wear the Biggest Dress in the World anywhere they want.

Before you say anything to your friend, Etiquetteer wants you to think very carefully about whether or not it’s any of your business to comment on her wedding plans. It might not be.