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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Miss Manners 5/16

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin ANDREWS MCMEEL SYNDICATION

DEAR MISS MANNERS: As I am a woman over 60 with graying hair, people constantly ask if I have grandchildren. I don’t, nor do I have children.

I realize that these people are just trying to make conversation, but when I answer in the negative, the conversation stops dead and makes for an awkward silence.

I’ve tried changing the subject or talking about my pets, but the uncomfortableness usually remains and prevents further discourse. How else can I answer this question?

GENTLE READER: Are you under the impression that people who ask that question are eager to talk about your presumed grandchildren?

Not likely. As you say, they hope to start a conversation. Miss Manners assures you that they will happily embark on one if your reply is, “No, do you?”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: We received a wedding invitation with an RSVP card directing us to a website with info on gifts. When we went to the site to research what gifts were desired, the only gift listed was cash. There were also boxes to check off in $50 increments.

I thought this was tacky. Am I a dinosaur that should be fossilized?

We never even receive acknowledgments or thank-yous for gifts given to these relatives. Thank you for educating me on the new etiquette.

GENTLE READER: What do you mean, “the new etiquette”? You know perfectly well that it will never be proper for solvent people to beg.

Miss Manners would think that their not even expressing gratitude is another reason to direct your charitable funds to the needy, rather than the greedy.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it still proper to address a 2-year-old boy as Little Master So-and-so?

GENTLE READER: No, we have retired that custom. Miss Manners need hardly explain why.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I acquired, I don’t remember how, a spoon with teeth at the front. I don’t see how it could be useful as anything but a grapefruit spoon, but it is twice as wide as any grapefruit spoon I have ever seen, and it is spade-shaped.

I have found no use for it except spading the window boxes containing my wife’s herbs.

Is this a very poorly designed grapefruit spoon, or can Miss Manners tell me that it was properly made for some other purpose?

GENTLE READER: What you have is a runcible spoon, lucky you. It is used to eat mince and slices of quince.

Or so Edward Lear tells us, in his immortal poem “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat.” And he ought to know because he made up the word. He also acknowledged that a duck might use it to spear spotted frogs.

You, however, are entitled to use yours as a spade. Miss Manners also suggests that it serves well as a terrapin fork or a dessert fork for something with both gooey and dry elements.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website

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