San Francisco Chronicle

It’s not an inquisitio­n — just polite small talk

- By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Send questions to Miss Manners’ website: www.missmanner­; to her email address: dearmiss; or through postal mail: Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City

Dear Miss Manners: AsIama woman over 60 with graying hair, people constantly ask whether I have grandchild­ren. I don’t, nor do I have children.

I realize these people are just trying to make conversati­on, but when I answer in the negative, the conversati­on stops dead and makes for an awkward silence. How else can I answer this question?

Gentle Reader: Are you under the impression that people who ask that question are eager to talk about your presumed grandchild­ren? Not likely. As you say, they hope to start a conversati­on. Miss Manners assures you that they will happily embark on one if your reply is, “No, do you?”

Dear Miss Manners: We received a wedding invitation with an RSVP card directing us to a website with info on gifts. When we went to the site to research what gifts were desired, the only gift listed was cash. There were also boxes to check off in $50 increments.

I thought this was tacky. Am I a dinosaur that should be fossilized?

We never even receive acknowledg­ments or thank-yous for gifts given to these relatives. Thank you for educating me on the new etiquette.

Gentle Reader: What do you mean, “the new etiquette”? You know perfectly well that it will never be proper for solvent people to beg.

Miss Manners would think that their not even expressing gratitude is another reason to direct your charitable funds to the needy, rather than the greedy.

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