DEAR MISS MANNERS: On a frequent basis, I’m told I look like a former television personality who got caught up on the wrong side of the #MeToo movement. This person is considered attractive by many, so I should be flattered. However, this person is several years older than I am, so it doesn’t necessarily make me feel great.
I realize people are trying to compliment me, but I really prefer not to hear I look like this person – or any person, for that matter. Is there a tactful way to respond to someone when it happens next?
GENTLE READER: Comparing someone’s looks to anyone else’s rarely goes as intended. Much like witty observations about another’s name, it tends to fall flat, cause insult or has been heard 38,346 times before.
To discourage it, Miss Manners suggests that you say something to the effect of, “Oh, no! I’m sure no one wants to be associated with that person right now.” Or, “Oh, dear! I suppose I will have to up my skincare game.” Realizing that the intended flattery has failed should make people less inclined to press on – or try it again on others.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it proper, or even OK, to send someone flowers after their colonoscopy? She is a dear friend.
GENTLE READER: Then do her the courtesy of not referencing the medical procedure on the accompanying card. Miss Manners will now spend the rest of the afternoon trying to get that particular image out of her head.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: For my 16th birthday, my grandmother had a very large amethyst made into a custom ring for me. She was not a typical “sweet” grandmother, and this was the only birthday gift I received from her after entering high school. I adored that ring and wore it nearly every day.
A few years later, it went missing. I looked everywhere, but it was gone. More time passed, and I visited my cousin for her wedding. She was wearing my ring on her finger! I have discovered that my grandmother stole it from my jewelry box a few years after she gave it to me, and then gifted it to my cousin.
I have been devastated about this for many years, and will be seeing my cousin soon. I would like to address this and have my ring returned to me, but not embarrass anyone. How should I handle this?
GENTLE READER: Carefully.
You would be accusing your grandmother of theft – and the rest of your family of aiding and abetting her. In addition, you would be taking something from your cousin that she no doubt values as much as you did – and to whose nefarious circumstances she was previously oblivious.
Miss Manners suggests that instead you approach the conversation with low expectations of getting the ring returned as you tell your cousin this “funny story” about Nana. If she knows your grandmother as well as you do, she will believe it is possible – especially if you do not immediately ask her to hand over the ring in question afterwards.
Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website missmanners.com.
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