DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I meet people I do not know, they ask me what I do for a living. Most often, when I reply what subject I teach, they say, “Oh, I always hated that in college.”
To which I want to reply, “And I am sure that I would hate what your life’s passion is, too. Please tell me what it is.” But I know that would just make matters even worse, as it would put them on the spot and make them apologize. Maybe that is what they should do, but not how it should come about.
Could you please give me a reply that tells them what they said was not very nice, but at the same time not make me an enemy for life?
GENTLE READER: ”I often hear that from people who are bad at ...” whatever it is that you teach.
If you had told Miss Manners your field, she could have helped you make it more specific. For example, “I often hear this from people who have trouble figuring out a 15 percent tip.” She asks only that you deliver it with a smile and a sympathetic tone.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my daughter got married, the wedding was quite small -- immediate family only, without a reception or party. The ceremony was at our house, and she left afterwards for the city where she and her husband live.
Shortly after, she sent out wedding announcements to her close friends and our friends/family. It was a simple announcement without any mention of gift registries. She was concerned that including that information would appear as though she were trolling for gifts.
She has heard from only a handful of people. Her comment was that she had hoped for some sort of congratulatory note or acknowledgment.
So what is the proper response to a wedding announcement? Is she wrong to have hurt feelings? I must admit, I am somewhat disappointed and hurt, also.
GENTLE READER: That is, unfortunately, a common disappointment. Miss Manners is afraid that it has gotten so that people react to receiving wedding invitations or announcements by wondering, “Do we have to buy a present?” rather than with pleasure at the happiness of others.
And if no present is required, they feel that there is nothing to be done. And so they do nothing, omitting the decency of wishing their friends well. Your daughter has informed friends that she was married -- and they have turned away without saying anything. That they will claim that they didn’t know they were supposed to do anything is no excuse.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: One of my male co-workers recently asked me out for supper. I agreed, thinking we were going as friends. Over dinner, he confessed he has been admiring me and had wanted to ask me out for a long time, and that he would like me to consider being his girlfriend.
Miss Manners, he is a very nice guy, but I am not interested in him as a boyfriend. What is a polite way to reject a guy? I don’t want to hurt him at all.
GENTLE READER: This couldn’t be easier: “I don’t date anyone at work.” And hope that he doesn’t admire you enough to find another job.
(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, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)