DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am the mother of a 17-year-old daughter. I was also, some number of years ago, a Playboy bunny.
It's been my custom to not mention that fact because of the reputations of Playboy bunnies. However, in my case being a bunny meant I had money for college, graduate school and a yearlong trip to Europe.
My daughter has approached me about being allowed to tell her friends. She says they see all these gorgeous women on television and in magazines and her friends feel better when they realize just normal people (like me) can look like that. It seems a reasonable request, but I'm concerned about what her friends' parents will think. I don't want to swear these kids to secrecy about my (very) past life, but I don't want to be thought of as a slut either.
I'd appreciate any opinions you might have (and I bet you have a few) on how to best handle this. Am I just being silly and old-fashioned?
GENTLE READER: Let us hope so. An old-fashioned lady who is a bit flustered when it becomes known that she wasn't a totally old-fashioned girl and, before that, an old-fashioned baby, is charming. It adds just enough spice to keep her respectability from being cloying. And it makes her infinitely more charming than a mother who makes a point of showing how modern and racy she is.
Miss Manners means no slight to your daughter when she says that you might as well let her tell, because she is bursting with it -- if, indeed, she hasn't already told all her friends in strictest confidence. That would be the same strictest confidence in which they all told their mothers. You may take it as a given that even trustworthy people who swear never to tell anyone else are exempting their intimates from that category.
So (to use the ploy by which reporters pry quotes from those trying to duck public attention), don't you want to get the true story out there?
Your version cannot be that this was a universally innocent occupation, because there are too many other bunnies' stories out there. On the contrary, you need to explain that it was possible to hold this job without engaging in any immoral behavior.
And while the financial angle is relevant, you do not want to let your daughter think that money nullifies all questions about how it is earned. You can cover that by saying, "Looking back, perhaps I might have made a different choice."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: What does one do with Christmas carolers? They are quite marvelous, but I never know quite how to react.
Wonderful young people who come in great good spirits to sing carols at one's front door -- do I stand at the open door, listening while I freeze and the house grows as cold as an Arctic igloo, or do I stay inside the warmth and smile through the window, or do I try to bring them all in out of the cold (to sing inside) and hope that I have some cookies or something to offer?
GENTLE READER: You are allowed to peek and wave from the window if, when they finish, you open the door to thank them. But Miss Manners wonders why, if you are fortunate enough to have caroling neighbors, you might not have cookies and hot punch on hand to offer them.