Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 30 1999 3:30 AM

Drawing upon her rich experience of life, Prudence (Prudie to her friends) responds to questions about manners, personal relations, politics, and other subjects. Please send your questions for publication to Queries should not exceed 200 words in length. Please indicate how you wish your letter to be signed, preferably including your location.


Dear Prudence,

On a scale of 1 to 10, my problem is maybe a 1.5, but it's a problem nonetheless. My husband's business requires us to entertain at home quite a bit. His company (which pays the bills) uses a particular caterer with whom I do not get along. The woman in charge seems to resent my suggestions, though I am always polite, and it has come back to me that she is bad-mouthing me whenever she can. With Christmas and New Year's coming up, we will be seeing more of her than ever. I do not need this aggravation, Prudie, and fear she is harming my reputation. Any solutions?

--Hostess With the Cateress From Hell

Dear Host,

Oh, how sharper than a servant's tooth. Alas, people helping in the house are always in a position to carry tales outside. But to be pragmatic, here are your options. 1) Discontinue making any suggestions. And to close down the catering lady, make it a point to tell her that you have decided to defer to her professional experience. 2) Ask the appropriate person in your husband's company if you might have the leeway of choosing your own caterer. If the answer is "No," see Solution 1.

Good luck, and just remember this: Using caterers may have a few attendant problems, but it beats cooking.

--Prudie, practically

Dear Prudence,

I fear that a certain software billionaire may be a nut job. (No, not your software billionaire.) The one who has my dander up--pardon the animal metaphor--is a man named David Duffield from my hometown, San Francisco. He has pledged $200 million for homeless dogs and cats. What about HOMELESS PEOPLE?