April 21, 2014 in Features

Miss Manners: Finesse nosy strangers with thank-you, move on

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I fell and hit my head, which left a large bruise (black eye and large scar) on one side of my face. Every time I go out in public, someone asks me what I did to my face. Most of the questioners are total strangers, e.g., store clerks and fellow bus riders.

I usually get mad and tell them to mind their own business. Is there any polite but firm way to let these people know they’re out of line? I understand friends asking, but why does a visible injury make me exhibit A?

GENTLE READER: Snarling at people to mind their own business – however justified by their nosiness – would be a good way to convince people that your injuries were the result of your own pugnaciousness.

Oddly enough, claiming that, with a cheerful “You should see the others – and there were five of them,” would have the opposite effect.

However, Miss Manners does not require you to engage with strangers. A quick dismissal would be, “Thank you, I’m fine,” as if they were good citizens inquiring only to know if you needed help.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it OK for the bride to wear an elegant watch to her wedding reception?

GENTLE READER: Does she have an important appointment after the wedding that she is worried about missing?

Watches, however snazzy, are not properly worn with formal clothes or on social occasions, exactly because they imply a need to keep track of the time spent there before moving on to the next item on the schedule. If this is the case, Miss Manners would advise the lady to wear a concealed watch and to consult it discreetly.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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