Originally created 11/30/97

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Dear Carson: My husband and I have been married nearly seven years, and we are childless by choice. I am amazed at the number of people, sometimes strangers, who ask us why we don't have children. It occurs to me that this must be very upsetting to people who are infertile. Please address this in your column. - Cross Examined

Dear Cross: Such questions are intrusive and in poor taste. Just because a question is asked does not mean that you are required to answer it. In such cases the best answer is a question in return. ("What is your point?" or "Why do you ask?")

Dear Carson: Recently an acquaintance came to my home at midmorning to discuss a civic project on which we were collaborating. She stayed a little over an hour, and after she left I wondered if I had been remiss in not offering her some refreshment, such as coffee, a soda or cookies. Was I inhospitable? - One Track Mind

Dear Track: It is customary in the South to offer a guest in your home some type of refreshment, regardless of the time of day. Often a guest will decline, but midmorning is an ideal time to offer a cup of coffee or in warmer weather, iced tea or a soda.

Sometimes this hospitality is even extended to workmen or delivery people if they are going to be around for some time. This little bit of kindness is always appreciated.

Dear Carson: My company has instituted a policy of "casual dress Friday." Some co-workers and I are in disagreement over what this means. Can you explain exactly what "casual dress" in the workplace is? - Jeans or Jackets

Dear Jeans: Take your cue from your superiors. Sometimes casual dress can mean sports shirt and tie and sometimes it means khakis and a pullover sweater.

It is easier to stipulate what it does not mean. The following types of clothing are definitely inappropriate: cutoffs, soiled or unpressed clothing; gym clothes, patched or torn jeans, halter tops, midriffs, sandals, bare feet, cleavage or warmup suits.

Have a question on etiquette? You can ask Carson Elliott by calling INFOLINE at 442-4444. Press 4422 and leave your message. You can write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30913-1928. You can send e-mail to Carson at AskCarson@poseidon.net. Her Web address is: http://www.poseidon.net/

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