DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is there a proper reaction to people who brutally insult or criticize you, but immediately follow it up with "just kidding"?
My wife's sister uses the phrase constantly. On a recent visit, she disapproved of the meal, noted my recent 10-pound weight gain and disliked our new sofa -- she wasn't asked for her opinion on any of these things -- and then said she was joking. I don't find it funny.
GENTLE READER: Justifying rudeness by accusing the victim of not getting the joke is indecent. It is also not the act of a person who is genuinely funny.
Miss Manners therefore counsels you to ignore the insult implied with each "just kidding" instance -- namely, that you have no sense of humor -- and let your unamused demeanor make clear what you think of the overt ones.