DEAR ABBY: I have been a teacher for many years, and several times a year I encounter a dilemma I hope you can finally solve for me. When staff members get together for a potluck meal, is it bad manners to eat whatever dish you brought? When we have these meals, I always feel like I should eat my co-workers' contributions and leave mine for others to enjoy.
My fiancee - who loves to cook - enjoys preparing things for me to contribute. She thinks I'm silly for not partaking of whatever she makes for me to bring, especially if it's my favorite dessert. We read your column every day, so we decided to ask you what's the right way to handle this common social dilemma.
To Pie or Not To Pie
DEAR TO PIE OR NOT TO PIE: The considerate thing would be to take a small slice of the dessert so that the other attendees can enjoy it, too, then wait until you're sure that everyone who wants a sample has finished before going back to polish it off or lick the tin.
Sorry, not interested
DEAR ABBY: I am a young stay-at-home mom who loves to get out and meet people. I have a tendency to make friends with direct sales representatives. But once I have hosted a party or bought some of their merchandise to support them, I become a customer and the friendship ceases to exist. Is there a polite way to tell them I would rather not buy the product or host a party without losing their friendship?
Friendly in Montana
DEAR FRIENDLY: You have been confusing friendship with business. People who cozy up to others to get them to buy a product or host a party are salespeople, not friends. And no, there isn't a "polite" way to tell someone like the folks you have described they haven't made the sale and maintain a "friendship" that never was one in the first place. You might have better luck finding friends if you reached out to other young mothers for companionship.