Q. If this isn't the weirdest manners question you've ever had, at least it must be one of the strangest situations. Here is the problem: Everything is going really well with me.
In the last year or so, my life has fallen into place. I've had my share of trouble and then some, including losing my wife when my boys were small, periods of unemployment, etc., but my luck has changed.
I was able to take advantage of early retirement to pursue my hobbies, one of which is to write down the histories my father and grandfather told me of my hometown, and the local newspaper is publishing them and even paying me. Another is gardening, and now I'm winning prizes at shows! Also, I helped organize a teen club at my church to do volunteer work. The youngsters kind of took to me and like to tell me their problems and things, and so my house is always full of young friends.
Best of all are my own boys. The older one went through a rough time and there were years when he seemed headed straight for nowhere, but he's married a fine young woman who's straightened him out, and he has a good job and two of the brightest little kids you ever saw. My younger boy is a senior in college on his way to becoming a teacher.
One more thing, in case you're not feeling sorry for me already: I'm the most sought-after man in town. Loved, pursued, cooked for, brought presents, hounded, almost.
Now I'll come to the point. Good things happen to me all the time, and I've got no one to share them with.
If my grandson says something cute, his uncle is too busy with schoolwork to care. My young friends think such talk is boring and my lady friends consider it an invitation to recite all the cute things their grandchildren ever did that I heard a dozen times before and acted interested about at the time. Same if my college boy gets all A's --his brother isn't interested because he didn't go to college, and neither is anyone else. If I get a compliment on a story from an editor and try to repeat it, the most I get is "That's nice" before they tell me some compliment they got, or should have but didn't.
I know it's wrong to brag, and boring to others, but I sincerely share the ups and downs of lots of people and only want to know if it's too much to expect them to return the favor. I'd get married tomorrow if I found a lady who took the time to look genuinely happy for me for two full minutes before what I was telling her reminded her of something in her own life.
A. Bragging is an attempt to make others think better of you by reciting your own accomplishments, or those of people associated with you. It is not an attractive form of behavior, and is therefore best done with the false modesty of disbelief or undeservedness.
But you are talking about something different. Swaggering, which is the sharing of happiness with others who have already professed the deepest interest in one's welfare, is a legitimate activity. You have properly confined it to people in whom you demonstrate a reciprocal concern.
Miss Manners has never understood why people who rush to any announcement of emotional depression--as if responding to a fire alarm--are not at least equally eager to share their loved one's elation. Perhaps you might serve notice of the proper reception you expect by prefacing your statements with "I've had some good news, and I'm sure you'll be pleased for me."
A lady who gets it might be a good candidate to share your fortunes in general.