Originally created 07/30/00

Not every occasion is OK for children



Dear Carson: My husband and I are having a semiformal anniversary party. Most of our friends have small children, whom they bring to all parties.

Although I love children, I do not want them attending this party. Moreover, I have had others ignore invitations addressed to adults and bring their children anyway. How can I denote on the invitation that no children are invited, without offense? - For Adults Only

Dear Adult: Your query is a frequent one. Try writing on the lower left side of the invitation, "Adults Only, Please" or "Children, Not This Time." The presence of children quite naturally changes the dynamics of any social gathering. Good luck!

Dear Carson: After dinner last night my boyfriend asked me why I held both my knife and fork throughout the meal. I was cutting my food and using the knife to place the food on the fork. I told him that I thought it was proper etiquette, but he disagreed.

When I studied and lived in Europe I saw many people eat this way. Honestly, it makes eating much simpler. Hopefully, I am right and will be able to teach my boyfriend a friendly etiquette lesson. Etiquette is an ongoing "duel" with us. We love to see who is right. Thank you! - Meal Manners

Dear Manners: You are right. There are two styles of holding one's utensils. The one you used was the "Continental style," wherein one holds the fork (tines down) in the left hand and the knife in the right. The other style is the "American Style."

I use both, but I prefer the Continental style for its deftness and simplicity. The American Style originated in the early history of the colonies when a French nobleman came to visit. A case of trembling palsy in his left hand necessitated a switch and cut style of eating. Having observed the elegant Frenchman's handling of utensils, colonists adopted it, thinking it to be the latest and a more proper form of dining etiquette.

Dear Carson: My husband's 91-year-old aunt died recently. Since she had lived in a small town and was of an advanced age, there were not enough pallbearers. Of the pallbearers available, one was an old man who could not lift the casket. Another was a 12-year-old boy of small stature. Would it have been proper for at least one of her two grandsons to serve as pallbearers? - Powerful Pallbearers, Please

Dear PPP: In order to procure a professional answer to your query, I consulted my favorite mortician. His opinion is thus: "To be a pallbearer is a high honor. However, pallbearers should be strong enough to perform the task at hand. Strong friends or even grandsons, nephews or any other family member can serve, with the exception of children of the deceased."

Write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Send e-mail to askcarson@home.com. Carson Elliott's Web site is at www.theproperthing.com.