DEAR MISS MANNERS: Why would a lady -- or a gentleman, for that matter -- be obliged to answer any personal question?
GENTLE READER: They are not obliged. So the real question is why they feel obliged to answer. Miss Manners supposes it is because they need a polite alternative response, which is, "Oh, I'm afraid that's a personal matter."
(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.)