DEAR MISS MANNERS: Early last year, I began collecting dolls. The hobby has brought me a lot of joy; I sew doll clothes, paint the dolls, take photographs and meet with other local enthusiasts.
Initially, friends and family thought it was cute and harmless. However, the dolls cost a few hundred dollars each, and people closest to me know this, either directly from me or from Web sites I have sent them to.
I am not fiscally irresponsible, even with a hobby I love, but after the most recent doll made its appearance, the reactions have turned more tepid. I get questions along the lines of, "Why are you buying more? How many do you need?"
Whether it is the price tag or the quantity of dolls or the combination thereof, somehow others feel a need to voice some kind of disapproval on how I spend money on enjoyable frivolities.
Is there a proper way to communicate that I find this hurtful? I love my dolls, but I don't want anyone to think he or she is less important than them.
GENTLE READER: And you were kind enough not to mention that one of them spends a ridiculous amount of money on fine wines, another has a handbag collection of more than she could ever use, and a third spends so much time bird-watching that you can't imagine that spotting one more bird could possibly mean anything to him.
You don't need to say that these remarks are hurtful; you only need to stop them. Miss Manners hopes that you stop talking about your hobby to those you discover are not interested. Beyond that, you can cut off criticism by saying gently, "Well, it's a hobby that a lot of other people love, but anyone who doesn't can't understand."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I share a two-bedroom apartment with a couple. From the moment they come home from work until I fall asleep, I have to listen to them talking.
Our apartment is small and our bedrooms are next to each other. I spend all of my time in my room, never have anyone over and barely speak on the phone so I feel I'm a very quiet roommate. The bedroom walls aren't soundproof, so I can't even get peace retreating to my room. There rarely is a moment of silence.
It's driving me insane! I just want to tell them to SHUT UP, but I don't think that would be the best approach. How can I get that peace and quiet I'm looking for?
GENTLE READER: These aren't your parents, are they?
Miss Manners only asks because she is wondering why you don't simply find yourself more compatible roommates. But then, if they were your parents, you might not be suffering the lack of silence in silence.
Neighbors and roommates may be faulted for shouting, blasting electronic sounds, practicing their volleyball serves against the wall and barking. And probably for many other noises that don't bear thinking about.
But you can hardly blame a couple for conversing with each other in their own room of their own apartment. Either you or they need to get out more, preferably for good.