DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a tall woman, and am frequently asked my height by men and women alike. While I find it mildly annoying, I can shrug it off easily enough. (I’ve never understood why asking someone’s weight or age is considered rude, but asking about height is fair game.)
But how might I respond to the occasional man who, after asking this personal question and getting an honest answer, doesn’t believe me? It seems to imply that I am either too ignorant to know the right answer or a liar, both of which I find very insulting. (I have had my height of 6’0” verified many times over the years, and I have no reason to “fudge” the numbers.)
A typical confrontation of this sort comes from a man who has exaggerated his own height, and wants me to explain the obvious disparity between our viewpoints. The next time this happens, is there a way I can let him know he is being a jerk -- without being one myself?
GENTLE READER: Asking a woman’s weight is also considered fair game these days, Miss Manners is saddened to admit. That does not make asking her height or her weight any less rude -- and, as it is rude, you are under no obligation to answer.
A light smile, accompanied by, “Oh it’s been so long since I measured,” is all that etiquette requires. For the persistent male, you may add, with a slight tone of annoyance, “As I said, it’s been some time since I measured. Does it really matter?”
If this is still not enough, move closer, look down at him, and ask firmly -- but, please, without a snarl -- ”Well, we’re almost the same height, aren’t we?”
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)