You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe


Miss Conduct

The unkind kidder

When to put up with someone who follows up insults with ‘just joking.’ And when not to.

> A neighbor often stops to say hi and chat — then makes offensive off-color remarks and adds that he is only joking. The last time I ran into him, he made a rude remark about my daughter. Now with the good weather coming, it is just a matter of time before we bump into him again. My husband plans to insult his kids. I also feel like giving him a zing back. However, the adult side of me says not to stoop to his level. Please tell me what you think is the best way to deal with this.     D.V. / Watertown

There’s a part of me that frankly delights in the prospect of suburban fathers getting into an ever-escalating game of the dozens using each other’s children. “Your kid’s quantitative SAT score is so low I thought it was your credit rating.” That part of me, however, would be more properly employed directing an improv comedy troupe than writing an etiquette column.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week