We were sitting in the front row and were deeply shocked. The audience did not laugh. In fact, I heard several gasps, as we are well-known in our community and I believe many people were embarrassed for us.
After the program, I told the gentleman as I was leaving that my husband was a lawyer who had practiced in his profession for 55 years helping literally thousands of people who needed legal help. I told him that our nation was founded on laws and both he and I were very proud of his profession and the work that he has done.
The man immediately apologized and said it was just a joke, entirely inappropriate, but that he had used the same joke at the last performance and everyone had laughed. I appreciated his apology, but went home thinking how cruel such tasteless jokes are.
My husband said it was not good manners for me to express my displeasure with his remark. I, however, have had enough of "lawyer jokes" and think those who hear them and are offended should speak up. In my opinion, no one should ever disparage another person's profession.
Disparaging jokes about any profession — and lawyers get the worst of it, but many others are targeted — are risky as well as tasteless. More than likely, the gentleman figured this out from its tepid reception. Miss Manners guesses that this was probably a better lesson than any admonishment — which likely only taught him the unfair and inaccurate lesson that lawyers’ spouses are even more humorless than lawyers themselves.
Dear Miss Manners: I had the opportunity to travel with a chum to his parents' house. Upon arrival, I saw a picture of one of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen. Just as my friend stated it was his mother, she came into the room. She was older and had put on a lot of weight. Is it ever polite to compliment a woman on what she used to look like?
If you can do so without alluding to how awful she looks now.
“What a beautiful picture of you” is infinitely preferable, Miss Manners finds, to “That’s you?! What the heck happened?!”
Dear Miss Manners: Is 6 p.m. considered the evening or the afternoon? My daughter-in-law put on an invitation "6:00 in the afternoon." Just checking. I'm not sure.
It depends. Have the invitations already been sent? Evening is generally considered to start at 5:01 p.m. But if the error is in print, Miss Manners recommends that you stand by your daughter-in-law for the sake of family harmony, charmingly saying that you all hoped that if the evening never began, it could never end.