Manners & Misdemeanors
'You Are Fat,' and Other Tactless Things You Shouldn't Be Saying
There is virtue in making people accountable for their actions, especially when they are behaving poorly or wearing hideous shoes, but how do you say it? Some advice from the Truly Rich Lady.
IMAGE COLLAGE Yzabella Cruz
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Got questions for the Truly Rich Lady? E-mail [email protected].

I am of the belief that, in social gatherings, if everyone says what’s really on his or her mind, no one will come out alive. Sequins will fly. Silk-twill scarves will be snatched from necks. The dumpling soup will be thrown onto laps. Personal bodyguards will be summoned. It will be so much fun until the lawsuits. And that’s why the Truly Rich Lady does her best to mind her mouth.

I asked my friend, linguistics expert and renowned chatterbox Dr. Rashad Gnashnab, about the unfiltered mouth, and she promptly denied attending last night’s party. “No, no, I didn’t tell Mrs. Gobermouch that she was the reason mankind created double doors. I wasn’t there!” she said.

Ummm, I hadn't been referring to that, but asked the doctor to go on. “I should have used the Four Second Rule,” she said, shaking her head. “Whenever you feel the urge to spit out a questionable observation, take four seconds to think about your intention, calm your spirit, and if it really needs to be said, soften your declaration.”

How to do this? According to the new book Mouthy: Tacking Your Verbal Tackiness, remember the double Ds, as in dress or deflect. Coat the bitter pill in sugar or, if that doesn’t work, lead her away from the obvious. “Or just don’t attend the party,” said Dr. Rashad. “I am feeling very regretful now. I see Old Goober at church every morning!”

Here are a few examples:

Unsavory: “Wow. You don't need another serving of ice cream cake!"
Acceptable: 
"Please do try these mangoes from our farm. It's fruit season, and my brother has brought home enough to fill a truck!"

Unsavory
“Oh, you guys still aren't married?”
Acceptable:
"I'm so happy to see the two of you together!" This may read as a backhanded comment. Put on an earnest face.

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Unsavory: “You’ve gained weight!” Or “Hello, Lardy!” (used in some coastal towns). Or just “Fat!”
Acceptable: “How you’ve grown!” This only works with young people that you have not seen recently. Or “You are absolutely blooming!” She will not be able to tell if you are referring to the enormous situation or her face, which is plump and therefore cute.

Unsavory: “Your baby is ugly!” Or “Aaah, monster!” (usually uttered in elevators at night)
Acceptable: “What a beauty she will be when she grows up!" Do not provide additional explanation. 

Unsavory: “You look tired.” Or “Aaah, monster” (last heard in the Gobermouch mansion).
Acceptable: “You look different. Tell me your secret!”

Unsavory: “Your shoes. Burn them!”
Acceptable: “I know a new place. Let’s go shopping right now!” Follow up by actually shopping. 

Unsavory: “You are a bad drunk!”
Acceptable: “There’s a call for you in the bedroom.” Lead her to the room and lock it.

 

The right words will do the trick, but sometimes actions are more effective. True story: After losing a smallish fortune on a losing investment, my Truly Rich Best Friend wanted to try a new look. And so she got choppy bangs! It was a hair crime. She looked like my nephew’s Cocker Spaniel after it had lost a fight with a cat, but I didn’t dare tell her that. We’d only been friends for eight years at the time and she was (slightly) truly richer than me.

Instead, I decided to secure an impossible appointment with a superior hairstylist in her name. I told her it was a gift, and she got the hint. The following week she, with her new ‘do, booked me a body sculpting package at the beauty center, and I got the hint. We are still talking.

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C.C. Coo
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