Excellent response to nosy questions

When you’re a mama not married to a man, you get some overly-personal questions, though I’m pleased to say it’s been a long time since anyone has asked how we conceived our daughter. Too bad, because I enjoyed saying, “I picked up some guy in a bar” and watching them try to figure out if I was joking.

In case it happens again, I’ll be ready with a better answer, thanks to this excellent suggestion from a commenter on Miss Manners’ column this week (handle: CalypsoSummer).

Asker: [Personal question]

Answerer: Why do you want to know?

Asker: Oh, I was just curious.

Answerer: Oh.

It works for all sorts of situations. The one Miss Manners’ Dear Reader was requesting help with was “Why are you using a walker?”

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One thought on “Excellent response to nosy questions

  1. As a single mom by choice who conceived without a partner, I often got asked this question. As your child gets older, this question gets asked less frequently, thankfully! I’ll sometimes run into someone new and well-meaning who says, “So what does your husband do for a living?” trying to make small talk, and I say, “I don’t have one of those.” “Oh,” they say, and usually shut up after that. Your response here is GREAT!

    My question is, what if after I say “Oh,” they pursue it with something like, “So, where’s the dad?” or some dumb thing? I usually say “There isn’t one,” but I’m just wondering your opinion on the issue of when someone says something after you say “Oh.”

    Right before I was ttc, I met a lesbian woman in my post-graduate class who mentioned she had to leave early to pick up her daughter. She wasn’t married, and I had a feeling she was also a SMC (didn’t know if she was gay), and we sat next to each other making small talk throughout the semester and finally I sheepishly asked if she was divorced or a SMC. She said she was a lesbian and they’d conceived via a donor. I said I was asking only b/c I wondered if she could recommend which clinic was better of the two nearby as I was planning to go the donor route myself, and she gave me tons of excellent advice there in the beginning. If someone asked me not out of judgement but out of seeking knowledge I would be happy to answer but 99.9% of the time, people are just nosy!

    Kudos to you for writing this excellent post.

    Hi, MNV! I guess the thing to do if they press on after “Oh” is to repeat the routine until they get tired or get the hint. I haven’t test-driven this thing, sadly not having encountered CalypsoSummer’s excellent advice until after I stopped getting this question much.

    I agree completely on the difference between nosiness (what gets called curiosity) and a genuine inquiry. I’m happy to network with anyone who’s traveling the same road, and I’m very grateful to those who gave us advice in our own process. –MM

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