DEAR MISS MANNERS: A professor in our department took leave to give birth. When we heard the happy news that a baby girl had been born, I commented, “I wonder if she plans to bring her in?” Of course, it is always exciting to see a new baby.
One of our colleagues replied, “She already HAS brought her in,” clearly meaning that the lady had come in to the office while still pregnant. This colleague is known to be the only fundamentalist Christian in the building.
I’m not sure if he was trying to be funny or to make a political statement. I was stunned into silence. Is there anything one could possibly say to something like this?
GENTLE READER: Given the choice between treating it as a joke and running the risk of hearing a full discussion of this person’s beliefs, Miss Manners would manage to produce a weak smile. And she might add, “But I didn’t have a chance to chuck the baby under the chin!”
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Your presence is your present
DEAR MISS MANNERS: We are meeting our newly engaged son’s future in-laws for dinner at a restaurant soon. Is it appropriate to present them with a token gift?
GENTLE READER: You are already giving their daughter your son. Miss Manners would think that anything more would suggest undue gratitude and relief.
Never too much barbecue
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my brother, whom I had not seen in two years, came home for his 40th class reunion, the entire family wanted to get together with him, as he was here for only a long weekend.
I planned a barbecue dinner for all of us for the night before his reunion and placed an order with a famous restaurant. We were to eat at 6:30 p.m. At 2:20 p.m. that same day, he sent a group text saying, “At (another famous barbecue place); order (from a pizza place) for dinner.”
I was furious that four hours prior to our planned barbecue dinner, he would go eat the very thing we were serving. My sister was also with him during the outing, so two out of the six people in attendance for our 6:30 dinner had just consumed the same meal less than four hours earlier.
They were totally kidding about the pizza part, and my brother says he'll eat barbecue to his heart’s content whenever he gets the chance. But my sister and I really got into it over this, and she disagrees with me completely. I asked her if, for example, she’d invited me over for her famous pork chops, would she not be irritated when I texted at 2:20 p.m. that day that I was at a local restaurant eating THEIR famous pork chops? She claims she wouldn’t care at all, but I don’t believe her for a second. Who is right here?
GENTLE READER: Right about what? Whether your sister would care if you ate the same meal twice in one day?
Miss Manners couldn’t say. If both your sister and brother insist that they would enjoy the redundancy, then you must take them at their word. But then you might try out the pork chop plan to see if they mean it.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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