Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Miss Manners: Older student faces condescending attitudes

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Dear Miss Manners: I just started a full-time graduate program that is small, demanding, and excellent. I am 73 years old and my colleagues are in their 30s, and I have not noticed any particular difference in our views or any alienation from others. I’m just engrossed in reading, writing, and talking, as we all are. My worry centers on other people’s reactions when they hear about what I do, such as, “Isn’t that wonderful!” It’s good to keep busy! Keep your mind active! So important when you get older! No one would ever say that to other students. I take this as seriously as they do. This is not a small hobby; it is a program that will contribute a lot to my long-term plans and goals. But because I’m two generations older than other grad students, people (including my contemporaries) think it’s cute or snappy of me.

When they tell me how wonderful it is that I do this, I know they’re trying to be nice. But I find these remarks condescending and insulting – pure ageism. So far my only response has been a weak smile and a change of subject. Do you have any other ideas?

Ah, yes, the return, later in life, of that well-meaning speech from toddlers: “Good job! You walk alone! I’m so proud of you!” Miss Manners has never heard of a toddler responding, “Yes, and I will soon be able to outrun you.” You should probably show the same restraint. But she will allow you to pleasantly ask, “And what do you do to stay busy and active?”

Dear Miss Manners: Could you please explain to us the difference between a drawing room, drawing room, sitting room, drawing room, library, sitting room, drawing room and boudoir?

These distinctions have have fallen out of use because they refer to activities that have disappeared now that people only need their own devices to keep each other company. But for the sake of social history, Miss Manners will attempt:

Boudoir: a room, or anteroom to one, where a lady receives her intimates. No, not necessarily these intimates, but his confidantes, his hairdresser, his social secretary and, briefly, his young children.

Library: room filled with books, whether read or not.

Lounge: Where people retire in a commercial establishment – ​​for example, the smoking area or ladies’ room.

Saloon: a noisy drinking place, probably with gambling and occasional gunfights. Or did you mean “living room?” » In this case, please see below.

Living room: kept empty to keep it clean for company.

Living room: Where the family was allowed to be if they were banned from the living room – and where they often gathered when there was only one TV in the house.

Salon: reserved for distinguished company.

Lounge: reserved for guests expected to reflect with humor on the meaning of life.

Living room: where you would be visible before your funeral.

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

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