Miss Manners: My friend loves to gossip about other people’s money



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Dear Miss Manners: A friend has a dreadful habit of always mentioning, as an aside, how wealthy — or strapped — someone is when their name comes up in conversation. Some of these people I know, some I do not.

I wish I had addressed this habit when she was still merely an acquaintance, but it’s only now that we often speak on the phone that it is glaringly obvious to me.

I would really like a good response other than my silence or changing the subject, which has had no effect. Perhaps something gentler than my inclination to blurt, “You know, that’s rude.”

“How fortunate you are to have friends so close that they even share their financial information. I am shy about such things and would never talk about it to anyone except my accountant.”

If you are feeling bold, Miss Manners will allow adding, “ … for fear of its being passed along.”

Dear Miss Manners: I was at a social event, and a dance teacher I have taken a few classes with was also attending as a guest. She came over to say hi to the woman sitting next to me and gave her a big hug.

As the teacher turned away from her friend, her head and body were pointed toward me, less than four feet away. I said, “Hi, Delia.” She looked through me and walked away. I know for a fact that the teacher knows my name and face.

I believe this is called a cut. I have done it to someone myself, once in my life.

Now, I know why Delia is mad at me: A couple of years ago, I spoke out of turn in her class, uttering a single, ordinary word that was interpreted (probably correctly) as critical of her teaching. When I returned to her class on a later date, she allowed me to attend (after telling me off) and encouraged me to participate, so I thought we were okay.

Apparently not. So, what is the correct response? Should I refrain from saying hi in the future? Keep saying hi to see what happens? Avoid her classes? (I think I will have to, as that was just too awful.) Also, I should not discuss this with anyone who knows her, right?

Perhaps she missed it, but Miss Manners sees no mention of an actual apology anywhere in the above exchange. She suspects that Delia similarly missed it. If you do not think she is a good teacher, then do not attend her classes. But if you choose to, you must be respectful.

To repair the current situation, you might say, “I thought we had resolved the unpleasantness from before, but I do not think I ever properly apologized. I am sorry that I was disrespectful in your class, and I hope that you can forgive me.”

And then please refrain from any more single, ordinary and/or offensive words in the future, unless your plan is to be cut again — socially or permanently from the class.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

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