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Humor is best response to ‘friend’s’ gibe

Dear Miss Manners: Ten years ago – yes, 10 years ago – my son applied for a job at HotShot University. He did not get it. However, my husband was so sure he would get it that he told a friend about the application, which meant that my husband had to tell the friend later that our son did not get the job.

This friend’s wife, who is sort of a “frenemy,” has latched onto this information, and every time my son comes up in conversation, she manages to bring it up, saying things like, “Gee, it’s a shame he didn’t get that job at HotShot he wanted” – as if everything he has accomplished has been for naught because of that.

I am really tired of this and have started pretending I don’t know what she’s talking about (did I mention it’s been 10 years?), but I think she knows I am faking. What to do?

Gentle Reader: Tempting as it is to fight back – “You know, it seemed like a disappointment at the time, but only imagine if he had gotten it. He would not have run for Congress, and he wouldn’t be president today” – the best course is to laugh.

Your friend’s wife either means to hurt you or she is stunningly thoughtless. In either case, your finding it humorous that she still remembers it after 10 years is not the response she is looking for – and should therefore discourage further repetitions. Miss Manners trusts that your husband, meanwhile, has learned his lesson several times over.

Restaurant etiquette

Dear Miss Manners: When I am at a restaurant and spot a professional acquaintance (and they notice me), is there a “status” to be observed when deciding whether to approach their table or waiting until they approach me?

Gentle Reader: In the days before cellular telephones introduced the notion of total accessibility, the desirability of separating one’s personal and professional lives was better understood – not to mention the days when eating in a restaurant was an occasional, not a daily, occurrence.

One must recognize an acquaintance, but, in the situation you describe, that acknowledgment should be brief. The standing party approaches the sitting party, says a few words and departs. If both parties are sitting, a nod of the head is sufficient.

The salesman or the politician who sees an “opportunity” proceeds without Miss Manners’ support. And the boss who thinks he is bestowing a favor by inviting an employee to join his table – instead of proceeding with his daughter’s birthday dinner – needs to reread his own statements about how family-friendly his company is.