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Miss Manners: Meet lewd remark with sarcastic rejoinder

Judith Martin Universal Uclick

DEAR MISS MANNERS: While my husband, young son and I were dinner guests at a couple’s home, the man in the couple – in front of my husband and his wife – complimented what I was wearing, saying that it “accentuates the right places.”

To be clear, the outfit was not low-cut or revealing. I simply said, “Um … thanks” and looked uncomfortable because I really didn’t find the remark appropriate.

A general “I like that outfit” or “You look nice” would be one thing, but to add that said outfit “accentuates the right places” was another, especially from a married man (and old enough to be my father at that) to another man’s wife.

My husband told me later that he thought the compliment was questionable, but at the time, he just let it pass.

The man’s wife was obviously not happy with her husband’s remark. But instead of saying anything to him about it, she was snippy with me for the rest of the evening and lectured me on my child-rearing.

Should such a situation arise again, what would be the best way to deal with a host who says something mildly inappropriate – while I would still be a good guest?

GENTLE READER: Considering that the husband was lewd and the wife snippy, Miss Manners doubts that the situation will arise again with this particular couple, whom you can cross off your visiting list.

Should you encounter such a remark again, you could exclaim, “I didn’t know that you used to be a tailor!” As soon as he denies this – and before he has a chance to say that he was referring to your figure – you should add, “That’s too bad. A good tailor is hard to find. Does anyone know one?”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Do you send an anniversary card to a couple who are separated?

GENTLE READER: What would it say? “Happy anniversary, each in your own way”? “Hope you make it to the next one”?

Miss Manners would consider it more tactful to ignore the occasion.

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