I used to read “Dear Abby” in my daily newspaper. One issue that came up frequently was “How do I answer when a friend or acquaintance asks me a personal question that I don’t wish to answer?”
Abby had a number of possible replies – Why would you ask me that? Why do you want to know? That’s personal. – Or sometimes, when Nosy Nelly is persistent, That’s really none of your business. Or perhaps a gentler version would be Let’s not go there.
Unfortunately, when Nosy Nelly is being her most inquisitive self, there is no gentle version that will deter her. She goes into a rapid-fire mode and makes numerous inappropriate inquiries, causing me to want to throw something at her, like maybe a serious reprimand about how damn nosy she is and how she needs to get a life.
Here’s the thing – the other side of Nelly is a kind, gentle, caring woman who goes out of her way to do for others. She doesn’t call attention to her acts of kindness. I truly believe she would take the shirt off her back and hand to a friend (or a stranger) if she thought they needed it.
The last paragraph doesn’t solve the problem of Nelly’s inquisitiveness, but it makes me pause and reevaluate my relationship with her. I don’t want to hurt her feelings. Neither do I want to spend a lot of time with her. Somewhere there’s a happier balance. I’ll keep pondering.