Life Advice



Accidental Birthday Suit Sighting

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

Similarly, my husband, a scratch golfer, will only say he plays a little golf. I suppose that is better than claiming he can clean everyone's clock, but I find it grating nonetheless.

Therefore, I must ask: What's the best way to respond to an accomplished person who claims they aren't?

GENTLE READER: Is it possible that being experts has made them genuinely modest -- because they know how much else there is to know, or because they know greater experts?

Nah, they're probably just fishing.

Even so, Miss Manners prefers that to blatant bragging, which is now so common, and can be broadcast throughout the world online. So she would just play along and supply the compliment. It is an easy way to make someone happy.

But if you must protest, you can say, Now you've embarrassed me. You're obviously an expert in the field, and yet you let me make a fool of myself because I didn't know that.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What are the manners dictated for when or if someone should be corrected for a mistake in public?


GENTLE READER: Presumably you are not talking about classrooms, courtrooms or other venues where strict truth is pursued. Elsewhere, the answer is never, which is why Miss Manners advises parents to cultivate a subtle expression that conveys to a small child, Just wait until I get you at home.


(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)






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