August 18, 2014 in Features

Miss Manners: Scar inquiries deserve joking response

Judith Martin Universal Uclick
 

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Up until about a year ago, I habitually self-injured. I was able to work through my problems and cut out the habit, but I am left with a number of scars on my legs. They are visible from a distance and clearly (at least to anyone even marginally aware of the nature of accidents) deliberately inflicted.

It’s usually not a social problem, as regular pants cover them nicely. But when I wear shorts or skirts, people (friends, acquaintances and strangers) ask about them, or worse, simply point them out. This is usually in casual conversation, often in a group.

The people with whom I am comfortable openly discussing this are already aware of my situation. I realize that others are trying to show concern, but even if I responded honestly, it’s probably not a conversation they actually want to have.

I usually get flustered and make a lame excuse or change the subject. What would be a good way to casually discourage additional conversation on the topic without getting flustered or killing the mood?

GENTLE READER: “I walked into a lawn mower.” Or perhaps, “I really have to buy a better shredder.” Or whatever else occurs to you that is outrageous enough to make it clear that you are joking.

The dense may have follow-up questions, to which you should reply firmly, “Thank you for your interest, but I’m fine now.” Notice that Miss Manners calls it “interest,” not “concern.” As old scars would show that you are not in immediate danger, those inquiries are not compassionate but merely nosy.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the correct thing to do if you are to attend a baby shower, but then you have a funeral for a family member (a not-close in-law) happen at the same time? Attend the already RSVP’d shower or the funeral?

GENTLE READER: The funeral. Miss Manners recognizes few excuses for canceling a social commitment, but death is a legitimate excuse. No one will think you have abandoned the shower for something that promises more fun.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email