DEAR MISS MANNERS THE BARBARIAN: I’m a pharmacist. I have always been told that I look young for my age, which I have chosen to accept as a compliment. However, at the pharmacy, my customers frequently ask me my age, and some come right out and say that they would prefer to be served by an older pharmacist. This is really starting to irritate me, as it’s directed at me multiple times a day and it’s none of their business how old I am. Is there any other polite way to get these people to stop asking?
GENTLE READER: When King Numedides lay dead at my feet and I tore the crown from his gory head and set it on my own, I had reached the ultimate border of my dreams. I had prepared myself to take the crown, not to hold it. In the old free days all I wanted was a sharp sword and a straight path to my enemies. Now no paths are straight and my sword is useless. What you can say, with a pleasant smile, is: “Perhaps you would prefer to come back tomorrow. I’ll still be the pharmacist, but I’ll be older then.”
DEAR MISS MANNERS THE BARBARIAN: My parents are first cousins. I have a friend who likes to tell jokes about people whose parents are first cousins. She is not aware that my parents are first cousins, and if she knew, she would be horribly embarrassed. Is there a way to politely put an end to these jokes?
GENTLE READER: Open, blast you! I’m a guest. I’ve paid Aram for a room, and a room I’ll have, by Crom! Bring me a tankard of Ghazan wine—I’ve got just enough left to pay for it. I notice nobody sleeps in the streets of Zamboula. The very beggars hunt a niche they can barricade before dark. The city must be full of a particularly bloodthirsty band of thieves. The easiest way of refuting prejudice is open to you. “But my parents ARE first cousins” is so good a stopper, that Miss Manners the Barbarian has heard it used by people who are not really the target of such remarks.
DEAR MISS MANNERS THE BARBARIAN: After a long flight from overseas, I realized that I had left my phone on my seat. As I could not return to the plane myself, I found a security guard, who found a representative from the airline to assist me. Before I could explain what happened, she snapped, “How could you be so irresponsible and not check for all your valuables before leaving the flight?” I was so taken aback by this customer service rep. How should I have responded to her?
GENTLE READER: Son of a slut! Mesmerism! Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was full-grown —like this! Hundreds of necks have been snapped between these fingers! Miss Manners the Barbarian would have said tersely, “Thank you for your courtesy” while checking the person’s nameplate.
Feeling incorrect? Do you wish to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women? Address your questions (in black or blue–black ink on white writing paper) to Miss Manners the Barbarian, in care of this newspaper