MISS MANNERS

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Puzzles - By Ju­dith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Ja­cobina Martin

Dear Miss Manners: I am a very pri­vate per­son and have had is­sues with stalk­ers in the past. I am not on any so­cial me­dia, nor do I want to be.

So when the usual, ca­sual, get-to-knowyou ques­tions are asked in a so­cial set­ting, I lie or tell half-truths about where I live and work. And I give my nick­name in­stead of my le­gal name, or any other iden­ti­fi­able in­for­ma­tion.

I think it is much better to just make up this info than to say, “I’m not go­ing to tell you.” I have zero in­ten­tion of ex­plain­ing my painful past, and any­way, why does some ran­dom per­son need to know?!

My sis­ter thinks this is a ter­ri­ble idea and thinks I should just po­litely tell them I don’t want to give out that in­for­ma­tion. What do you think is the best way to an­swer these types of so­cial ques­tions?

Dear Gen­tle Reader: First, let us clar­ify your own ques­tion. You seem to be ask­ing how to be­have at get­ting-to-know-you gath­er­ings when you don’t want any­one to get to know you. In that case, why at­tend?

It is not that Miss Manners be­lieves that you are re­quired to give your ad­dress to strangers. Even with­out your un­for­tu­nate ex­pe­ri­ence, that seems un­wise. It is also un­nec­es­sary.

But you have to give them some­thing with which to start a con­ver­sa­tion. And the none-of-your-business dis­missal your sis­ter sug­gests is not go­ing to do it. Nor should you be ly­ing.

But for that mat­ter, bare facts, even if you were will­ing to pro­vide them, would not serve the pur­pose, ei­ther.

You should use those ques­tions to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion you don’t mind shar­ing: “I live in town, but I have a tiny patch of land be­cause I love to gar­den. Do you?” Or “Oh, I just work to sup­port my ten­nis habit. Do you play?”

Dear Miss Manners: We fre­quently have my sis­ter-in-law’s fam­ily over for fam­ily din­ners. She and her hus­band have al­ways al­lowed their 12-year-old son to choose not to eat any veg­eta­bles, and al­most no fruit. He re­fuses to eat them be­cause “he doesn’t like them.” This has gone on his en­tire life.

At Thanks­giv­ing din­ner, he will eat a small amount of turkey and prob­a­bly sev­eral rolls. Dessert is al­ways al­lowed, which he eats in full. This is both­er­some not only to my wife and me, but to her other sis­ters and ex­tended fam­ily mem­bers, also.

When they are at our house as our guests, are we on any valid ground to in­sist the kid eat a cou­ple of green beans or car­rots and some pota­toes?

Dear Gen­tle Reader: No. In fact, dou­ble no, be­cause you should not at­tempt to train other peo­ple’s chil­dren un­less specif­i­cally au­tho­rized to do so, and you should not be mon­i­tor­ing what any of your guests eat.

You will, of course, protest that the child is a rel­a­tive and that you are con­cerned for his health. That is a topic that can be raised only by a rel­a­tive who is on con­fi­den­tial terms with the par­ents and can do so with­out crit­i­cism of their child-rear­ing — and far away from the din­ner ta­ble.

Ad­dress your eti­quette ques­tions to Miss Manners at her web­site, www.miss­man­ners. com; to her email, dearmiss­man­[email protected] com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, An­drews McMeel Syn­di­ca­tion, 1130 Wal­nut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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