DEAR MISS MANNERS: We are the devoted parents of a beloved canine companion.
Unfortunately, he has a chronic health problem that is noted by many of the people we encounter on daily walks.
Many people kindly inquire about his well-being, but far too many follow up with questions about his likely life expectancy. I find this to be thoughtless and upsetting, and feel certain that such things would never be asked about family members that get about on two legs rather than four.
Would Miss Manners please suggest a response that would communicate the distress that this question causes, and help discourage it from ever being asked again?
GENTLE READER: “Life is always so uncertain. But I hope you are doing well?”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What do you think about entertainers, celebrities and “common folks” on stage and TV, especially on game shows, applauding themselves?
I’ve always thought this was self-aggrandizement, but it seems to be increasingly commonplace.
GENTLE READER: Yes, self-aggrandizement is rampant, and not just on social media.
Miss Manners knows that it is commonplace to declare that it is important to love oneself. But that does not make public displays of that affection palatable to others.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 59-year-old woman who carries some extra weight in just my abdomen. I think I look my age, yet I am frequently asked, “When is the baby due?” “How far along are you?” etc.
I am always astounded when confronted with this, and have no idea of the polite way to respond.
Somehow “I’m not pregnant” doesn’t seem to be the most appropriate answer, because both parties just end up being embarrassed.
GENTLE READER: People often tell Miss Manners that etiquette is just a matter of making other people feel comfortable.
Well, often, yes. But there are times to make people uncomfortable enough that they stop discomforting others. This is one of them.
Unfortunately, that is not license to be rude yourself. Miss Manners suggests a pleasant, “You’re mistaken about me. How far along are you?”
And yes, you can say it to any gender. It does not specify “how far along” in what — and it might refer to “learning manners.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was in a bathroom stall, using the toilet.
Enter a person wanting to know what stall I’m in.
I replied, “What?” Person then asks again. I sternly said, “At the end!”
GENTLE READER: Presuming that this person is not someone to whom you said “I’ll be right back” 45 minutes ago, Miss Manners is as puzzled as you.
We will have to guess the reason for the question. You could ask, of course, but surely this is not a conversation you want to prolong.
If there is a next time, try, “There are empty stalls toward the front.” Or silence, with the excuse that as you were unseen, the question might have been addressed to someone else.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.