Life Advice



Pre-Pandemic Gaffe Seemed Funny Then, But Alarming Now

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Before the pandemic, I attended, along with a few other colleagues, a casual dinner party hosted by my boss. The six of us were gathered around the kitchen island, enjoying hors d'oeuvres and wine. I was drinking a glass of red.

My boss placed onto the island our buffet-style meal, including a bubbling macaroni-and-cheese casserole hot from the oven.

Just then, as I took a sip of wine, my boss said something hilarious. I instantly laughed, as did everyone else, but I spewed droplets of red wine onto the macaroni and cheese. My boss did not see it, but I'm pretty sure others did. I took a clean tissue and quickly dabbed my spit droplets from the casserole's top. Some attendees saw me do this, others did not.

What should I have done? Announced my gaffe and removed the casserole entirely from the menu? Refrained from macaroni-blotting?

I feel that my question bears weight, especially when our society moves back toward socializing without masks.

GENTLE READER: Not a good idea, especially if you and your funny boss are around.


Before the pandemic, this is the sort of blameless gaffe for which you should have delivered a hilarious confession that would make everyone sympathize with you. Schadenfreude would have kicked in, and some people would have said that a little wine didn't hurt, while others would have just skipped that dish.

Your other choice would have been to change your name and move to another country, taking the offending macaroni bowl with you.

But we have all learned a different standard of hygiene, and nobody is going to laugh at what would now be considered a deadly weapon.

So please do not let this happen again. If it did, you would have to make an abject confession to your boss, insist on ordering rapid takeout, and polish your resume.


swipe to next page



Steve Benson Caption It Hi and Lois A.F. Branco Candorville Mike Smith