DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recently got divorced and remarried -- rather quickly, I might add. This came suddenly and unexpectedly -- to everyone around me, that is.
I, of course, saw it coming for quite a while. Preferring not to air my dirty laundry, I kept my marital affairs private.
When I see people I haven't seen in quite some time, I introduce my new husband as, "This is -----, my husband."
Right in front of him, I get questions like, "Oh, aren't you married to ----- anymore?" or "Where is -----, your first husband?" or "Did something terrible happen to -----?"
This, of course, puts my new husband in an awkward situation. Being the sweetheart that he is, he says nothing. It doesn't bother him, but I get very upset.
Now, if I were in the other person's shoes, yes, I would be surprised by this quick change, and a million questions would run through my head. But, out of respect for this other person, I would never ask about the situation.
Am I wrong to think this is unacceptable behavior? Am I getting myself out of joint unnecessarily? I don't understand how people can be so ignorant. Isn't it obvious that I am not married to ----- anymore? How do I answer these people?
Until now, I have been answering them with, "That's a closed chapter of my life; on to better things. ...." followed by a quick change of the subject. Sometimes I am confronted with people who simply cannot take a hint and want to dig into the dirty details, "Well, what on earth happened to you two?"
I finally had my fill of it today. Is the way I've been answering this question proper?
GENTLE READER: Is your doubt based on the notion that a proper answer would have the effect of zapping a busybody?
Would that it were so.
However, lest that give you evil ideas, Miss Manners assures you that rude answers merely encourage busybodies to rephrase the rude content of their questions in rude language.
What works is the slow but relentless method that busybodies employ -- repetition. What you are saying is fine; you just may not be saying it often enough. Every time someone restates the question, you should restate your answer.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Now in my 70s after a conservative upbringing, I receive calls from telemarketers who, although we have never met, begin by addressing me by my first name or even by the nickname Jim.
The callers sometimes become angry when I ask why they have chosen first-name intimacy in circumstances not warranting it. Once, when I hung up after posing that question and failed to receive a reply, the telemarketer called again and left an obscene message on the answering machine.
Solicitations bearing the salutation "Dear James" I simply return to the sender or discard. However, I would appreciate being informed of the correct way to respond to like-minded callers with whom, by my having answered the telephone, I have entered into a speaking relationship.
GENTLE READER: There is a quick and civil divorce obtainable from these relationships. All you need to do is to say, "Thank you, I'm not interested," and hang up.
Miss Manners holds no brief for unsolicited telephone calls and unsolicited intimacy, but she is afraid that unsolicited etiquette lessons are not justifiable, either.