DEAR MISS MANNERS: I attended a selective technical school for my undergraduate degree and have encountered the same problem over and over again, ever since I graduated. Whenever someone finds out that I went to MIT, there is a good chance that they will say something like "Oh! You must be really smart, huh?"
I have no idea how to respond to this question!
"That's a common misconception, haha" is my usual reply, but even then, they are sometimes insistent with, "No, but really, I bet you're very smart."
What should I do? Many a conversation has turned weird because of this question.
It's gotten to the point that I try to hide where I went to school and only mention it if I'm directly asked because I don't want to deal with it. Is there anything I can do to diffuse these awkward interactions?
GENTLE READER: Surely you must be tempted to say something along the lines of, "Oh, no, I'm not at all smart. It's just that my parents donated a building."
Miss Manners would be, although, for the record, she is not advising this.
A less provocative response, which nevertheless works wonders, is, "I study hard." You may be sure that no one will be moved to respond, "Well, so did I, but it didn't help."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I'm confused as to how to address my wedding invitations to my Grandpa and his new wife. My Grandma passed away last summer and he remarried this summer. I have never met his new wife, although my parents assure me she is wonderful.
It doesn't feel right to address the save-the-date card and the invitation to Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Longstreet (Mrs. Clarence Longstreet is, and will always be, my Grandmother) and I don't know how else I am supposed to address the invitations. I want to do what is proper. I just don't know how.
GENTLE READER: Yes, you do; you just don't want to do it.
Unless the lady is keeping her own name, she is now Mrs. Clarence Longstreet, regardless of how you feel about it. You do not have to call her Grandma, but you do have to use her formal name on a formal invitation.
Furthermore, Miss Manners assures you that you will regret it if you use the occasion of your wedding to offer a slight to a reputedly wonderful lady who has married your grandfather.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I sing with an amateur volunteer group of seniors. Two of us have been volunteering to open a meeting at a local nursing home with an informal little show. We sing a few songs before the meeting begins, then sit quietly until they're through with their meeting.
Would it be rude to leave just as they call the meeting to order, or is it more rude to sit and listen to all their business? We certainly wouldn't want to offend anyone. The director of the meeting says he doesn't care.
GENTLE READER: Leave. You are there as performers, Miss Manners reminds you, not as guests. Well, guest performers, if you insist, but chiefly performers. And performers need to know when to acknowledge any applause, thank their audience and get off stage.