Dear Miss Manners:
I react to questions about my daughter-in-law and son from people who ask, "Well, any babies?" or "Are you going to be a grandmother?" ect., by glaring at them and saying, " I don't ask them such questions." Certainly it is not my business, nor anyone else's, but even so, perhaps I have blown this up more than is necessary. Is there a polite response?
One can hardly exaggerate the rudeness of inquiring into the contents of someone else's womb. Sooner or later, these people will get a burst of tears for an answer, from some couple unable to conceive a child. Miss Manners considers your answer, or a cool "I have no idea," civil enough, under the circumstances. Short of producing those tears, the couple may answer when or why questions about babies ("When are you going to have children?" Why don't you have children yet?" or "Why aren't you going to have children?") with a frosty look and a firm, "One never knows, does one?" Miss Manners does not approve of rude answers, even to rude questions, and rough but honest answers, such as "Why should we burden ourselves?" are as bad. Do-you questions ("Do you have any children?") are legitimate and should be answered legitimately. (That is, one only had to admit to legitimate children.)
Dear Miss Manners:
A woman I met at a party asked me to guess her age. I thought we was about forty, even though she was wearing a satin disco dress and carrying a pocketbook shaped like a heart, and I said so. Well, it turns out she's thirty-three and is always being asked for proof that she's of legal drinking age, so I was supposed to guess she was a teenager. I felt trapped by the whole thing. What should I have done?
You were trapped, so you might as well have gone along with the silly game. Why didn't you demand to see her teeth before answering?