Dear Miss Manners: I am a Caucasian man and my wife is Chinese. Often when I am out with our daughter but not my wife, strangers will ask questions like, “Where did you get your daughter?”
What is a good reply? I usually just try to look confused by the question and joke, “In the usual way.”
Gentle Reader: Although amused by your joke, Miss Manners finds herself urging you to amend it. These impertinent strangers are presuming an adoption, and you surely don’t mean to imply that adopting a child is unusual.
Perhaps you might want to try, “I’m sure your family wouldn’t want you to be picking up information from strangers on the street about where babies come from.”
Dear Miss Manners: My pearl earrings are simple and classic, but they dangle from small gold hooks. Are they still proper to wear at a funeral?
I ask because my mother is passing, and as I am not a family favorite by any means, the last few months have been quite difficult. The funeral promises worse.
It would be nice to know I am at least correctly attired from an official perspective. If I wear no jewelry, I will be considered “frumpy” and disrespectful. If I wear the wrong jewelry, I will be “flashy’” and disrespectful, which is probably worse. It would mean a lot to me to know exactly where the lines of propriety are.
Gentle Reader: Plain pearl earrings (Miss Manners gathers that yours are not the long, swingy sort that should be reserved for evening parties) are beyond ordinary reproach when worn with black clothes to a funeral. But as your relatives are determined to get you, one way or the other, she cannot promise you immunity from the nasty nitpicking that they apparently consider respectful behavior at a funeral.
A gift for the hostess?
Dear Miss Manners: Is it necessary to bring the hostess of a potluck family dinner a hostess gift? Or is my contribution (as per her request), which is often more food than the hostess herself prepares, a hostess gift enough?
Gentle Reader: Hostess? What hostess?
Miss Manners has trouble thinking of someone who orders catered food from you as a hostess. And while you should not expect to be tipped if you also partook of these meals, the optional courtesy of another contribution is unnecessary.
This column was co-written by Judith Martin’s daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com or her email, firstname.lastname@example.org.