Sometimes inquiring minds want to know the darnedest things. These five beauties can make you squirm, sweat, and stammer. But take heart, because you are not alone; by the time I’d turned fifty I had been asked each. And if you find yourself on the receiving end in the future, my goal is to prepare you.
Here is my take on the best way to respond to these invasive stingers. I’m a Jersey girl who has been living in the South for the past twenty years and my answer is ripped from the Southern-gal playbook.
I look the questioner straight in the eye and say, “Bless your heart for asking.” And then I change the subject. For readers living in other parts of the country, that five-word answer (appropriate for all five questions) is the Southern way of flipping someone the bird, but delivered with a smile.
- How old are you?
People will ask this one from the minute you’re born. In the earliest days, you can’t talk so others—mother, father, grandparents—answer for you. During childhood this is a fun question, one where holding up a few fingers and hiding behind the leg of an adult suffices as a response. When the answer goes beyond ten fingers, then the only situations where you should encounter this question are limited to entering a bar, applying for a driver’s license, or completing medical forms.
- Do you have a boyfriend?
It is a timeless question and rest assured that you will be asked this when your love life is as stinky and dry as a popcorn fart. The only one holding your hand is your manicurist, and as for sex, well, you’re getting by with reruns of Sex and the City. Yet, everyone and their mother, and your mother, wants to know if you have a boyfriend. If and when you do have a boyfriend, then brace yourself for question number three.
- When are you getting married?
This is the Big Kahuna of questions. After you’ve secured a boyfriend, then paraded him around to family and friends, the M-Question is inevitable. Of course, no one will utter a word in front of him. They’ll wait until your new fella is out of earshot, like when you’re at a family function and he’s playing an intense game of Hungry Hungry Hippos with your nieces and nephews, or if you have them, with your kids or grandkids. That’s when folks shoot their marriage-arrow question right between your eyes. Now, supposing the two of you have been together for a few years, then people will ask right in front of him in order to let your guy know he better shit or get off the pot. Remember, if you marry and then divorce, questions 2 and 3 will be coming right back at you.
- When are you going to have kids?
For me, this question is the nerviest of all. After I was married for two years, a close friend asked me this and I said, “I’m not ready yet.” Sure, I wanted to have kids. Someday. Just not that day. But my friend didn’t like that my biological clock wasn’t ticking, because hers was already ticking for me. She lectured me on why I shouldn’t wait, how I didn’t even know if I could have kids, and if I had trouble getting pregnant, then it could take years. She wanted me to shit or get off the pot. I didn’t even know that I’d sat down. My take on this question and any variation of it, is that having children is a big decision and a personal one.
- How did you lose/gain the weight?
In our body-conscious society, you’re bound to fall prey to at least one of these. Shed a few pounds and the dieters in your life want to know how you did it. What’s your secret? Pack on a little padding, and the question comes veiled in a statement like, “Someone sure did enjoy the sweet potato casserole at Thanksgiving. Those mini marshmallows are like sugar bombs.” Answer yay or nay, and then the latter might prompt a confession that it wasn’t the sweet potato casserole, but your mother’s chocolate pecan pie that resulted in extra winter insulation. Not that it’s anyone’s business.
None of it is. So go forth and bless their nosy, questioning hearts.