Dear Miss Manners:

My good friend and brother-in-law of 53 years (a schoolmate of my wife) came for a visit. He brought their 50-year high school reunion pictures. He and my wife started looking, laughing and reminiscing. I did not go to that school so I did not know any of them.

After sitting there one hour, not saying one word, I went into another room and started playing the organ. We decided to go out to eat and my wife came in and told me that I was rude. Was I?

When we came back, I sat down at the computer and told my brother-in-law I would show him my family Web page. I had not even brought up the site when my wife said, "No one wants to see your family pictures" and made me shut it down. Was she wrong?

Thank you for making it so easy for Miss Manners to judge your wife. Yes, "No one wants to see your family pictures" is rude.

Now can we talk about you?

On the face of it, there is nothing rude about wandering off while your brother-in-law and your wife are laughing over their high school memories, nor about playing the organ, nor offering to show your family Web page. But if you did so in an ostentatiously sulky way, to make the unpleasant point that you resented their having some fun that did not include you, there was.

Miss Manners is not suggesting that your rudeness would justify your wife's--only that you would seem to have a level field here, on which you could both stand to trade apologies.

Dear Miss Manners:

As a single female who is childless by choice, I am becoming increasingly annoyed with co-workers who interrupt my duties or free time with stories about their children or grandchildren.

I work in a close-knit atmosphere, enjoy my work and get along with my boss and co-workers. I have a full social life, a partner, and travel. Adult conversations are more interesting to me.

So many parents seem to live vicariously through their children and readily share all information about them with others. That's fine, but I'm just not interested.

Please tell parents to respect their co-workers' privacy by not sharing their children's every move. I don't care to know. That's why I don't have children. Just because theirs are cute and exciting to them does not mean they are to others.

How do I solve this problem without hurting feelings?

By learning a few polite phrases, none of which is "I have a full life without children so stop boring me with yours."

Miss Manners suggests, "Oh, how nice" in an even tone with a distracted look and a vague smile that announces that your mind is on your work. While it is rude to seem too bored, it is not rude to seem too busy.

Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners, in care of this newspaper.

(c) 1999, Judith Martin