DEAR MISS MANNERS: My problem is with dear friends of ours. The husbands know each other since before kindergarten, and the four of us have been close for years.
This couple is basically middle class. However, they spend like they're very wealthy (fancy car, expensive home improvements, extravagant vacations). Yet she is always complaining they have no money for these things, but "you get what you pay for" is their mantra.
My husband and I have always had houses, cars and vacations but are more frugal. Why am I so jealous? Help!
GENTLE READER: Why are you jealous of people who overspend themselves into a state of financial worry? Miss Manners cannot possibly imagine. But she will try.
Perhaps you are under the impression that fancy cars and such are more desirable than whatever you can afford. Well, that is pre-recession thinking. Understatement is now chic again. For what it's worth, you probably appear more chic than she does.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My partner and I adopted a child three years ago. He has become a happy, silly, active, loving child. When we were going through the adoption process, the topic of being a "conspicuous family" was discussed. As two men with a child, we fall into that category.
Several times over the last couple of years, we have been verbally attacked. Twice we have been in a grocery store when someone informed us that we were not a "real family." On one of these situations, we were even told that we were condemned to hell!
Another time, when I was having breakfast out with our son, I was discussing children with a woman who was there with two of her own. The conversation was casual and amiable. When I mentioned "my partner" in the conversation, she started shouting at me, "You're evil! You are doing that child a great injustice!"
Our son's birth mother was a heroin and cocaine user during her pregnancy. She had the presence of mind to realize she couldn't take care of him and chose us as his adoptive parents. We didn't decide to adopt to "save" a child, but the fact is, we will probably be able to give our son a much better life than if he had stayed with his birth mother.
How do we react to these people? It is so difficult to not get angry. I almost feel like we need to practice these situations so when they occur, we can react with dignity and composure.
GENTLE READER: A gentleman of Miss Manners' acquaintance was once subjected to a barrage of unwarranted insults. Outraged on his behalf, she asked why he did not trouble to defend himself.
His reply (and please forgive the inelegance for the sake of vividness) was: "If someone is throwing up on you, you get out of the way. You do not stay around to examine what is coming up."
There is nothing you can say to people who, whatever they may think, see fit to hurl crude insults at you, even in front of your son. A stiff "I'm sorry you feel that way" is all you can utter before turning your back.