DEAR MISS MANNERS: At a recent party, I ran into a friend I hadn't seen for a while. I knew his business was going well, so I congratulated him and asked about the future of his enterprise.
To my great surprise, I found I had walked into a buzzsaw. He berated ?me for asking what he called a stupid question and said in ?increasingly loud tones that I was capable of much more incisive ?queries.
And on it went. Too stunned to do much more than stand there, I kept ?my cool, pointing out calmly between salvos that I was merely asking a civil question that deserved a civil reply.
Given the unpleasantness, would I have been justified in saying ?"Excuse me" in the middle of his rant and walking away? I didn't do ?it, but it seems like an effective way -- perhaps the only way -- to ?let this person know he was committing a major faux pas.
One more thing: He apologized, but via voice mail. Was this ?sufficient, or should I move on?
GENTLE READER: Miss Manners can answer your original question, if you are still curious: Business is not going well.
That is not to say that your question was as civil as you suppose. Quizzing friends about their business plans is impertinent.
Still, that vehement reaction was not only rude and wrong (less incisive questions were what he wanted, not more) but also sadly revealing of what he was trying to avoid discussing. He could have brushed the question aside by treating it as a merely conventional inquiry, and responding, "Everything's fine thanks. How are things with you?"
Miss Manners would allow you to skip sticking around for this tongue lashing, but only if you first said, "I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to pry."