DEAR MISS MANNERS: A colleague of mine likes to tell jokes and will preface a punchline with "Pardon my French," and then follow with something that is either obscene or offensive, ending with a boisterous laugh.
I detest this sort of boorish behavior, but any look of disdain on my behalf only leads him to take further aim at me, saying things like, "Oh, we mustn't offend poor Tania!" making me look prudish and stuffy, which I am not.
I must deal with him frequently and can never be certain when he'll erupt into this sort of embarrassing vulgarity. Can Miss Manners suggest a way to respond?
GENTLE READER: If you will first kindly explain to Miss Manners what is so terrible about being considered prudish and stuffy. By your own account, we could use a touch more of that, considering how much we have of the opposite.
But as you asked for an alternative, Miss Manners suggests, “I’m afraid you are about to offend our French friends. They would hate being characterized as a smutty nation.”