WARNING: This post may contain mild sarcasm, reference to adult topics, and internal organs. Read at your own peril.

Me: “So, Gertrude, how is your parents’ divorce coming along?”
Gertrude: “Nunya.”
Me: “What?”
Gertrude: “Nunya damn business, you nosy meanie-face.”

I have to say, Gertrude does have a point. (For the record, I have never uttered that particular insensitive phrase, although plenty of others have slipped past the verbal filter.) Whatever happened to minding our own business?

Now, minding your own business has definite drawbacks. For instance, if you live next door to someone who you can hear screaming from the beatings their partner is dishing out and you ‘mind your own business’ and don’t call anyone for help, that’s pretty lowdown of you. On the other hand, minding your own business can also mean that you don’t have to hear every last detail of someone’s aunt’s last complicated surgical procedure, which might be a good thing.

As I was scrolling through Facebook* updates today, I noticed a photo of a person with whom I graduated from high school. She’s got three lovely children and a lovely husband and they all look lovely in this photo. (That’s actually not sarcasm; they really are lovely-looking human beings.) But all of a sudden, my brain said, “How the hell does someone you graduated with already have three kids! You aren’t that old! You’re only 25!”

Then my brain reminded me that almost every single day, someone asks me when I’m going to have kids. And you know what I want to say?

NUNYA. Nunyadamnbusiness. None-of-your-damn-business.

But I don’t…I usually just smile and make up a sufficiently polite response.

I realize that most of you reading this blog have actually asked me this question at one time or another, and please let me reassure you – yes, I am talking about you. I probably have great affection for you, or at least admiration, and sometimes love, but the accumulation of all these “So when are you guys going to have kids?” is starting to drive me bonkers. Let’s phrase it differently:

Me: Hello Gertrude, how are you today?
Gertrude: Great! When are you and your beloved going to have kids? I just had my second baby.
What I hear: I’m doing well. When are you and your husband going to stop using contraceptives so you can put your sex life to good reproductive use? Is there something wrong with your ovaries that I should know about?
Me: Oh, you know…we’re just not ready for kids yet. [Insert any other number of excuses here.]

See what I mean?

This useful rephrasing technique can be applied to pretty much any overly personal question. For instance, if a person is suffering from severe acne and is trying different medicated face washes:

Me: Hello Bartholomew, how is the latest round of super-chemically face scrubs coming along for you?
What Bartholomew hears: Hey pizza-face, I see you haven’t quite gotten rid of that terrible acne, which is why I’m bringing it up. Let me smash you in the self-esteem, eh?
Bartholomew: Oh, you know…I’m trying Proactiv now and so far it seems to be working well…but it’s only been a couple of weeks.
What Bartholomew wants to tell me: Go to heck, you cruel jerk! I was just looking in the mirror this morning thinking that it looked better, but now that you’ve brought it up I think I’ll go sit in my car and feel lousy about myself for half an hour.

And since I’m having fun with this, here is another example.

Me: So, Gertrude, when are you and Bartholomew going to get married?
What Gertrude hears: What the heck is wrong with you that you aren’t married yet? When are you two going to stop shacking up and do the right thing, for cryin’ out loud?
Gertrude: Well, we’re saving up for a wedding but there hasn’t been any official proposal…
What Gertrude wants to say: Thanks for rubbing it in…I’ve been hoping for a proposal for a year now and am getting constantly more insecure about this relationship, but he’s the kind of guy that wouldn’t like it if I proposed to him instead. I’m going to go cut out some more photos of wedding gowns and hide them in the shoe box under my bed.

My point is simply…there are some questions that it’s okay not to ask. Incidentally, if you want to share the questions you get asked all the time that drive you nuts, I will commiserate with you in the comments section. 🙂

Love, peace, and well-moderated inquisitiveness,

*a website which is 100% counter to a cultural value of ‘minding your own business’

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  1. Diane Tadehara

     /  January 12, 2012

    So, my love… how many of your friends/coworkers/relatives/acquaintances will get the point and how long do you think it will take for them to be able to talk to you again without being hurt by this particular post? Tip from mom: work on canned answers. You can even tell people you are pregnant. At least they’ll stop asking for a few months. 😉

  2. As to this annoying question…… I know exactly what you mean! Brad and I had set the goal of 5 years before we had kids, but people just kept asking anyways. So I finally started telling people we were NEVER going have kids if people keep asking us (mainly my lovely m.i.l who I love dearly……) But it actually worked for a while until we had a kid, and now I get “When are you going to have another one?”. Now I have to ask….. When are you to going to have kids? HAHA Just kidding! Take your time! Totally worth the wait 🙂


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