Whether they’re sincerely mining for information or just trying to sneak in a low-blow, something about the holidays makes people think they are suddenly at liberty to ask wildly inappropriate questions. Next time your snarky cousin or senile great-aunt corners you with one of these gems, be ready to shoot from the hip.
Question: “I just can’t figure out why you’re not married yet!”
The classic backhanded compliment masquerades as a statement that you are a great catch. The subtext, however, is that there might be something terribly, irreparably wrong with you that is keeping you from a lasting relationship.
Response: “Me neither! But I know why I’m not divorced yet!”
Question: “Are you still unemployed?”
A sensitive subject at any time, let alone in a crappy economy during the holidays, when consumerism is booming, hiring is down, and all your friends are getting their end-of-year bonuses.
Response: “I’m enjoying some down time between jobs that suck my will to live.”
Question: “You look so skinny!”
This is not really a question, and it might even be a compliment, but the subtle implication is that you weren’t skinny before. See how your cross-examiner feels when the tables are turned.
Response: “Really? I was just going to say the same thing about you!”
Question: “I [or my wife/my mother] make my green bean casserole/mashed potatoes/gravy differently.”
There’s a saying about too many cooks in the kitchen. If you’re slaving away to put a meal on the table, unsolicited (and probably too late) recipes or tips are irrelevant and rude.
Response: “I look forward to eating yours [hers] next year then!”
Question: “When is your baby due?”
If you’re not pregnant, this is one of those questions that can send you foaming at the mouth and knocking over pie-laden buffet tables. If you are, you’ve probably answered this question more times than your hormone-addled brain can handle. Either way, you have an opportunity to mess with the interloper.
Response: If you are hugely, massively, obviously pregnant, or if you are not at all, say, “I’m not pregnant. Why would you say that?” If you are pregnant, but only barely showing, try, “Last month.”
Question: “When are you going to have children?”
Usually asked by those friends and relatives already toting a pack of offspring with them, this question implies your life is not complete until you’ve reproduced.
Response: “As soon as other people’s stop annoying us.”
Question: “Were you invited to [so-and-so’s] party?”
Instead of tactfully asking, “Will you be at [so-and-so’s] party,” which assumes you were invited but gives you a graceful out in case you weren’t, the not-so-subtle suggestion here is that you might not have made the cut. Awkward.
Response: “Not since the incident.”
Question: “Who’s the father?”
The real answer to this question is, “None of your damn business.” The more fun answer is “Justin Bieber,” or,
Response: “Paternity tests aren’t back yet. It takes a while to run that many.”
Question: “What happened to [your ex]?”
Clearly your old SO is not around anymore, so bringing him or her up is just plain awkward if not downright painful. It’s tempting to tell your interrogator to use his or her obviously keen powers of deduction, but it’s simpler just to say,
Question: No questions at all.
You run into someone at a holiday party who barely gives you a hello, let alone a passable conversation starter. Cue the crickets.
Response: “So, when is your baby due?”