DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a young woman in my early 20s, and I have recently taken up knitting in an effort to broaden the scope of my hobbies. I thoroughly enjoy it, and it provides endless entertainment for me.
I started off knitting at home, and once I became more confident in my abilities, I began taking my knitting outside with me. It has proved to be useful in staving off boredom while waiting for the bus or at the doctor's office, among other places.
Unfortunately, since I have been taking my knitting with me, I find myself frequently asked by several people when the baby is due. I am not pregnant; I am merely a larger girl with an affinity for homemaking crafts. I find myself at a loss for a response and typically end up looking at the offender with a mix of shock and surprise.
Sometimes the look is not enough, and they remain there smiling and waiting for an answer, at which point I have a tendency to laugh nervously and say something to the effect of "I'm not pregnant." I feel bad about how chagrined the questioners are, but I can't think of any other response besides making up a due date to preserve the poor folks' dignity.
Is there a better response I could give these well-meaning (and seriously misguided) people? Am I more or less doomed to pregnancy questions because the only feasible reason for a young woman to knit is that she is expecting?
GENTLE READER: As Miss Manners understands it, football players who knit do not have this problem. But we all have the problem of inspiring strangers to voice the first silly association that comes into their heads.
Pretending to be pregnant would only encourage such people to make even more intrusive comments. They have compromised their dignity enough as it is.
Unless you are knitting booties, you can merely state what it is, in fact, that you are knitting: "Actually, this is going to be a ski mask. For skiing, not for robbing convenience stores."
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I just received a wedding invitation with an enclosed response card. The response card is basically blank, but says, "The favor of your reply is requested before (the date)." What is the proper response? A note, an email, a phone call?
GENTLE READER: Why is the card called a response card? Why does it have blank space in which to write?
Miss Manners has always opposed such cards. It is not the host's responsibility to supply the means of response, and anyway, those who do so report the same rate of non-responsiveness as those who trust their guests to know that invitations of course require an answer.
But there that card is in your hand. Unless you want to be ultra-correct and respond in the same third-person form in which wedding invitations are issued, for goodness' sake, use it.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)