Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Manners 101: Things not to ask.

On the off chance that someone stumbles upon this blog and likes it, I think that I should do the world a favor and remind everyone of what is and isn't appropriate in our society. And by that I mean the US at this time. Your culture may vary, but by and large this is how we do and don't act.

Before I start though, I would like to point out that etiquette and manners are not meant to hold anyone back, to stifle their dreams or to be used as a club to bash people with. Etiquette and manners are there so that we may all move through this life comfortable and that those around us may do the same. As a simple rule of thumb if you think that doing or saying something would make the person you are directing your action to uncomfortable don't do it.

So we begin. Things not to ask.

1. Are you pregnant? When are you going to get pregnant? Don't you want kids? You aren't going to have a kid are you? Ever think you weren't meant to have kids? How can you be so selfish and not adopt? How could you choose a C-section and deny yourself the experience of childbirth? Why didn't you have the baby without pain meds? How could you have the baby at home? Why did you choose that name?

2. Are you still with that loser/at that crappy job/in debt/wasting your time on that?

3. Why don't you eat meat? What can you eat? How can you eat a helpless animal? How can you eat that, it's so gross/fattening/bad for you?

4. Who are you voting for? Why? How could you vote for them? Don't you know that they're responsible for every horrible thing that's happened this decade?

5. When are you getting married? Why aren't you getting married? Why aren't you changing your name? Why don't you elope? Don't you want a big wedding? How can you waste money on an engagement ring? How can you waste money on a wedding? Don't you know the suffering diamonds cause? How much was your ring? How big is the stone? Why didn't you get a diamond? Why did you split up? Didn't you value your marriage? How can you do that to the kids?

6. Why do you take that medicine? How could you buy into that corporate crap? You know this is all in your head right? Why don't you get over it already?

7. How do you afford that? How much do you make? How much did that cost?

8. When are you going to start going to church again? Why do you go to that kind of church? How can you buy into the childish notion of God? Don't you know that what you're doing is a sin?

9. Don't you know that (insert everyday thing here) is bad for the baby? Is that safe for the baby? Shouldn't you be staying home with the baby? How can you just leave your job? Why aren't you breastfeeding? When are you going to wean him? Don't you want your body back? How can you do that in public? How can you let strangers raise your child?

10. When are you going to loose some weight? When are you going to quit smoking? When are you going to go back to school? When are you going to cut your hair?
11. Have you tried exercising? Have you changed your diet? Have you tried this completely wacko cure I read about on the internet? Don't you know that (insert everyday substance here) gives you cancer/lupus/asthama/etc?
I think this covers most things. The problem with all of these questions is that none of them are your business. These things are between the person involved, their signifcant other and their doctor if that. You have no right to know, you have no right to ask.
Of course if you routinely ask these questions with the person in question then you're probably ok. For example I talk to my mom a lot about my sleep disorder, so if she hears of a new medication she'll ask me about it. But if my third cousin spends Thanksgiving telling me that my Ideopathic Hypersomnia is all in my head and all I need to do is eat more vegtables and excercise then that is way over the line. Because he's not a doctor. And he's not my doctor. And to assume that my doctor is a moron and that i'm dumb enough to believe his advice about stimulants and nuerotransmitters over his precious opinion is just plain rude.
Never assume that someone hasn't considered an option. Never assume that they are ignorant of alternatives to what they are doing. Never assume that they are not under the best care they can be. Never assume that someone has made a decision without thinking about it. And never, ever assume that you know better than them. Because it's their life, not yours. This is none of your business. And if your mom or grandma would tell you that then you need to shut it and ask a simple "So how have you been?".

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