DEAR MISS MANNERS: A woman who has a child close in age to me asked me what grade I am going into this year. I replied that I am a rising high school senior. She then asked me what my SAT scores were.
Somewhat appalled by this question, since my parents have often told me that it is rude to ask someone a personal question, I merely answered that I did not do as well as I had hoped.
Unfortunately the woman went on to explain how well her daughter did on the SATs when she took them at the young age of 12.
How should I respond if someone asks me this again? Any snippy suggestions?
GENTLE READER: Snippy? Really, young lady. Didn't your parents tell you that there is no excuse for being snippy, not even other people's rudeness?
So did Miss Manners' parents. As a result, she learned to snip at rude people with scrupulous politeness.
Even all those parents together couldn't claim that it was rude to show interest in another person using that person's own definition of a suitable subject for inquiry. So what you should do is to skip answering by jumping in and asking eagerly, "Why, what were yours?" Notice: hers, not her daughter's.
When she responds by mumbling that she doesn't remember (as she will), you should say, "Oh, you're just being modest, I bet they were fantastic," and when she moves on to bragging about her daughter's (as she will), you should say, "Wow, that's terrific, congratulations."
Although such a person will again ask for your scores, Miss Manners promises you it will now be sheepishly. She will have already accomplished the bragging that prompted the question, so rather than topping you, she will have a belated feeling that she ought to give you a turn.
That is when you can say, "Oh, I wouldn't even want to say, I'm sure they're nothing compared to you and your daughter's." Only you must promise Miss Manners not to say it snippily.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is a 50th wedding anniversary more like a wedding in that the husband and wife plan it themselves, or more like a shower in that family plans it for them? As my parents' oldest child, is it appropriate for me to plan their celebration?
I don't want to seem forward by stealing the job from my mother and uncles if that is their responsibility. However, my uncles and their wives are in their 70s and 80s, and in increasingly fragile health, and my mother and father haven't mentioned any plans.
Shall we children take up the reigns and plan a celebration in honor of their 50 years of love and commitment? Or would that be treading on my mother's own ground?
GENTLE READER: Actually, a wedding should be planned by parents, not bride and bridegroom, although no one except Miss Manners still believes that. And while a couple could presumably be trusted with their own 50th anniversary party, by which time they should be mature enough not to stamp their feet and cry "I don't care -- it's our day and we get to do anything we want," it would be not only proper but charming for their children to give it.