DEAR MISS MANNERS: I started losing my hearing at age 30, and the No. 1 response I get when I say “I have hearing problems” tends to be, “What?”
This “joke” was mildly amusing the first time, but has gotten pretty old by the thousandth. My usual response is a sort of exasperated/resigned sigh, and “Oh, wow, I’ve never heard THAT one before!” or a weak smile and a “ha ha.”
Since I imagine that sarcasm is probably not very polite, I’m looking for a response that is both polite and pointed, to let the would-be comedian know that this joke is old, tiresome and not appreciated.
GENTLE READER: A concerned expression and, “Oh dear. You, too?”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: An acquaintance recently introduced me to her friend by saying, “I would like you to meet Jenna. Her husband is an orthopedic surgeon.”
I felt very embarrassed by this. I am a registered architect, which my friend is aware of, yet she chose to identify me as someone’s wife.
My friend is also a young professional, so I can’t chalk it up to tradition. Did my friend assume people would be more interested knowing I was the wife of a big-shot surgeon than a middle-class architect? What are your thoughts?
GENTLE READER: That your acquaintance’s friend was in need of orthopedic surgery.
There is the possibility that she found your husband’s career more impressive than yours, or your place in society more noteworthy as his wife. But rather than fuming during the conversation, vowing to cut off your friend forever, Miss Manners recommends that you listen and find out first.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When is it no longer appropriate to use linens that are old, frayed at the edges and stained (though clean)?
I have white linen table napkins that I use every day, and I love them so much I hate to retire them. When I used them for friends who’d arrived for an impromptu lunch, I realized that they looked sad and old (the linens, not the friends).
The blemishes are just tea stains that don’t bleach, not anything hideous. I guess my question is, must linens be pristine before they can be used with guests?
GENTLE READER: Napkins, like guests, wear over time, but we still entertain the ones that endure without outward offense. To be safe, however, Miss Manners suggests that you purchase new napkins for guests and use the old ones only for family — who tend to be more forgiving of things that are aging, yet still functional.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was invited to a “sprinkle” for a friend’s second baby, and we were asked to pay $50 to attend. A link to a small registry was included in the e-invitation.
How do you feel about this concept? I was surprised to see so many internet columns condoning this modern phenomenon. Thoughts?
GENTLE READER: That this columnist considers the event to have very low entertainment value for the high price of admission.
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.