Author Topic: Being grilled at the table.  (Read 8022 times)

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VltGrantham

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Being grilled at the table.
« on: December 03, 2012, 10:03:25 AM »
We had dinner at my Mom's house on Saturday and in addition to our regular party (myself, DH, our DD, her, and my father--they are divorced) she invited an elderly neighbor, Ms. Brenda, who doesn't get out much.

I was seated next to Ms. Brenda and the meal was extremely stressful for both myself and DH.  She kept grilling us, but most especially me, all evening long.  I tried bean-dipping, I tried to pretend I hadn't heard her, I tried changing the subject--nothing worked.

To make matters worse, my Mom encouraged the problem by giving information we didn't particularly want shared.

For example:

Ms. Brenda (to me):  Are you going to have more children?
Me:  Oh no, I don't think so.
Her:  Why not?  Don't you want to give your mother some more grandchildren?
Mom:  Oh, they had some fertility issues so we're very grateful for the grandchild we do have.
Her:  What kind of fertility issues?

Thankfully, Mom remained silent on that subject and my DH spoke up and said "that's not really something we discuss with other people."

She asked me about our finances, whether DH or I ever argued about money, if we had known each other long before marriage, and at one point, whether DH had ever been tempted to cheat on me or did I worry about it when he was traveling.  (He travels a lot.)

DH reminded her that our DD was sitting at the table and that wasn't an appropriate topic of conversation in her presence.

Normally I would have shut it down quick or said something about how I found her questions to be invasive and personal.  However, since she's my elder, my Mother's guest, in my Mom's home--I tried using alternatives, but couldn't get my point across.  Typically we stay for coffee and dessert and I help my Mom clean up, but that night we left as soon as dinner was done.

Since the typical suggestions didn't work, what do you do in a situation like this?

Hmmmmm

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2012, 10:09:45 AM »
Oh my.... what a busy body.  I was expecting closer to my aunt who grills people but it is not nearly to that extent. 

It doesn't matter that she was a guest of your Mother's.  You were too and have just as much right to an enjoyable experience as any other guest.  You would have been well within your right to shut her down or treat her questions as humor and laugh.  But I believe turnabout is fair play.  "My Miss Busybody, you've got a lot of questions.  How about you?  Did you cheat on your husband?  No, then he must have had a wandering eye.  How did you learn about it?  How many kids did you have.  Well that doesn't sound like nearly enough for your generation.  Why didn't you have more?"

Black Delphinium

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2012, 10:10:44 AM »
I'm pretty cool with respecting my elders, but if they're being disrespectful to me, not so much.

Let people think me rude, I would have clammed up and my dinner would have been the most interesting thing in the world at that point.
When angels go bad, they go worse than anyone. Remember, Lucifer was an angel. ~The Marquis De Carabas

RingTailedLemur

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 10:13:06 AM »
First I would have rubbed my chin, because it would have hurt after dropping onto the table so hard.

Normally I would have shut it down quick or said something about how I found her questions to be invasive and personal.

I'd have done this, or left much earlier than you did.  I am appalled at your mother's behaviour, too.


Quote
However, since she's my elder, my Mother's guest, in my Mom's home--I tried using alternatives, but couldn't get my point across. 

That wouldn't make any difference to me.  It's not rude to stand up for yourself because it can be done in a polite way.

I'd have said, "Brenda, your insistence on interrogating us on intimate details of our lives is intrusive and makes us very uncomfortable.  Please stop."

rose red

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2012, 10:15:14 AM »
DH spoke up and said "that's not really something we discuss with other people."

I would just say that to each and every question.  For questions like cheating, I would say "That is completely inappropriate." and keep repeating it.

I don't care if she is older or your mother's guest.  You and your family are guests too and don't deserve to be grilled by another guest.

Shopaholic

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2012, 10:55:54 AM »
DH spoke up and said "that's not really something we discuss with other people."

I would just say that to each and every question.  For questions like cheating, I would say "That is completely inappropriate." and keep repeating it.

I don't care if she is older or your mother's guest.  You and your family are guests too and don't deserve to be grilled by another guest.

I agree with this completely.

TurtleDove

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2012, 10:57:23 AM »
I would say "That is completely inappropriate." and keep repeating it.

This.  Depending on your personality, try to make it a joke, as if the busybody could not possibly have seriously intended her question to be taken seriously or answered.  When this has happened to me, I don't get angry, I get amused (or at least I don't act angry, I act amused).  It has worked to shut people down because they can see their busybodiness doesn't get them answers and doesn't bother me because it is so absurd to me I think they are joking.

demarco

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2012, 10:58:58 AM »
The same thing happened to my DH at Thanksgiving when an in-law three times removed grilled him relentlessly.  This is outrageous and there is no excuse for it.  I think that the questioners are counting on the fact that their targets want to keep the peace and don't want to embarrass anyone and so will answer the invasive, inappropriate questions. 

This is what I try to do when someone puts me on the spot this.  (I say "try" because a question ambush sometimes takes me by surprise and I forget about my stock response.)  I say, " why do you ask?"  It doesn't really matter what "the griller" says in response.  If he or she provides a reason for the question, I say nothing.  If he or she just gives me a look, I say nothing. If he or she issues a self pittying mumur, I say nothing.  If he or she persists with questions, I say nothing.  I do not believe this is rude.  Etiquette does not require that your life be an open book, especially to people you barely know. 


MrTango

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2012, 11:15:30 AM »
"What makes you think this is an appropriate topic for conversation?"

I personally take delight in watching someone squirm in uncomfortable silence while trying to come up with an answer to that question.  >:D

BeagleMommy

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2012, 11:20:35 AM »
I think  a stock answer such as "That's personal" would work fine.  For the cheating question I would try "Why would you ask that?".  She was being inappropriate and you would not be rude to put her on the spot.

I would also be highly miffed at my mother for getting into the fertility issue.  I would have had to pull her aside and say "Mom, please don't discuss our fertility with anyone."

veryfluffy

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2012, 11:21:11 AM »
she invited an elderly neighbor, Ms. Brenda, who doesn't get out much.

"So, Brenda, do you think there any particular reason that no one ever invites you out a second time?"
   

VltGrantham

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2012, 11:41:29 AM »
Quote
I would have had to pull her aside and say "Mom, please don't discuss our fertility with anyone."

I told Mom yesterday that I knew she was trying to help, but that we normally don't discuss that with anyone outside the family.  (At least, at least not under the guise of the relative anonymity of the internet.)  She said she knew she shouldn't have said anything but was just trying to help, but promised she wouldn't again.

She also said she wouldn't be inviting Brenda anymore--at least not while we were there.  I don't think it would happen again, but I wanted to be prepared in the event I find myself in a similar situation.

weeblewobble

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2012, 12:04:38 PM »
First I would have rubbed my chin, because it would have hurt after dropping onto the table so hard.

Normally I would have shut it down quick or said something about how I found her questions to be invasive and personal.

I'd have done this, or left much earlier than you did.  I am appalled at your mother's behaviour, too.


Quote
However, since she's my elder, my Mother's guest, in my Mom's home--I tried using alternatives, but couldn't get my point across. 

That wouldn't make any difference to me.  It's not rude to stand up for yourself because it can be done in a polite way.

I'd have said, "Brenda, your insistence on interrogating us on intimate details of our lives is intrusive and makes us very uncomfortable.  Please stop."

POD.  I think the concept of "respect your elders" goes out the window when those elders don't behave in a way that deserves respect.  I cannot believe she thought it was appropriate to discuss whether DH would cheat on you in front of your daughter!

ETA: Edited heavily after saw the response from your mom.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 12:06:36 PM by weeblewobble »

Zilla

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2012, 12:14:04 PM »
It makes me wonder what your mother has told her in "confidence" and she thinks it's alright to ask you directly.  I would also have been highly uncomfortable and done what you have done.  I then would have sharp words with your mother and ask her why she felt it was alright to share that private information and if she has told neighbor anything.

VltGrantham

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Re: Being grilled at the table.
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2012, 12:34:38 PM »
Quote
It makes me wonder what your mother has told her in "confidence" and she thinks it's alright to ask you directly.  I would also have been highly uncomfortable and done what you have done.  I then would have sharp words with your mother and ask her why she felt it was alright to share that private information and if she has told neighbor anything.

I don't want to accuse Mom because I've never had reason to believe that she shares really personal information with anyone.  I think what she did share, while irksome, was shared in an attempt to get Brenda to leave me alone.  She spoke quickly without thinking--I've done the same thing myself so I'm willing to cut her a little slack.

It's no secret DH travels alot and there is plenty of gossip and rumor in our small town anyway about our marriage.  DH's family has made it clear over the years that they think we will divorce (first it was in a year, then less than five, apparently now it's when DD is grown and out of the house) and that I supposedly married DH for his money.  Rumors have made it back to my parents, in particular my Mom who is not very socially active (unlike my Dad who is).

If she's heard anything (highly likely), it's probably more from DH's family, than Mom.