DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am 13 weeks pregnant, and really annoyed with my husband’s family members for constantly asking me how I feel and if I’m showing yet. I’m at the point where I am getting angry enough to try to avoid them.
I guess it’s because when I do describe how I’m feeling, they don’t listen — almost like the question is just something that needs to be asked, and they don’t know how to react to a description of sickness.
I feel like telling them that I’m not going to answer that question anymore. I know those words are blunt, but how should I tell my husband’s mother, sister, aunts, dad, etc. to stop asking questions?
GENTLE READER: Now, now. Of all the indignities people routinely direct toward pregnant ladies, “How are you?” is not the worst. It is not even a particularly nosy question, but merely a conventional pleasantry.
There is no need to be snippy to your baby’s close relatives. However, Miss Manners will allow you to give a frank answer, such as “nauseous” or “cranky” (one word; no graphic descriptions) provided that you do it with an impishly apologetic smile. They will not be likely to press you for details. And in all fairness, you would not want them to offer folk remedies or remind you that your discomfort is worth the end result.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: We are looking forward to settling into our new, small community, and meeting our neighbors. We received a community-wide email from a neighbor we have yet to meet, informing us of a party they will be having, to which we are not invited (not surprised, not expected). The email was alerting us to the fact that multiple watercraft would be mooring in the community waterway, and additional cars would likely be creating traffic congestion on the street — and “Thanks in advance for your understanding.”
How should we best respond? We do not object to a neighbor entertaining guests, but how do we convey our desire that our privacy and property be respected as they enjoy their guests in a polite, civil manner? We realize we will be living with the neighbors longer than the party, so this may be our best opportunity to develop good relations for the present and future.
GENTLE READER: Then Miss Manners suggests that you not assume that your neighbors would give uncivil, disrespectful parties unless you instructed them otherwise. You should respond by wishing them a pleasant evening.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a friend who lost her husband. I am sending her a thank-you note, and am not sure how to address her on the envelope.
GENTLE READER: Please reassure Miss Manners that you meant a letter of condolence, not a thank-you note. Otherwise, she would not like to hear the backstory.
A widow does not change her mode of address, and changing it for her is unpleasant, as well as wrong. If she was Mrs. Ethan Winkle before the death, she still is. If she was always Ms. Harriet Ruff-Winkle, she still is.