Pop Quiz. Which of the following true stories would put a serious chip in a Grace's manicure?
1) A certain Grace, sartorially splendid in this season's gauzy, Empire top, is just settling down for a pleasant lunch in her fave restaurant with a fellow Grace. An acquaintance breezes in, waves in greeting, and loudly announces, "Omigod, I had no idea you were pregnant!" She isn't.
2) Dinner party, four friendly couples, good food and great wine. The subject turns to a mutual friend's new image consulting business. One diner turns to the speaker and says, "Well, you won't be engaging their services; you obviously never care what you look like."
3) At kickboxing class one Sunday morning, a spandex clad gym bunny takes a break from lifting her leg, lunges at a classmate and says, "I saw your boyfriend last night out dancing. He looked like he was having such a great time! Where were you?"
4) A horse-healthy mother-of-three is scheduled for her first ever, purely precautionary mammogram. When she mentions this in passing to several other moms while they are collecting their children from school, one cheerfully informs her, "Remember Debra from playgroup? She went in for her precautionary mammogram and found out she was Stage 3. Have a great weekend!"
5) At a summer block party, the new neighbor saunters up to a fab family of four and blurts out: "Wow! Your kids don't look a thing like you." Both are, as it happens, adopted.
Answers: 1) Yes. 2) Yes. 3) Yes. 4) God, yes. 5) Yes.
If you answered all correctly: Congratulations, Grace!
What a Grace might say, should she be on the receiving end of the above conversational bludgeons:
1) "Nope. Just a fab facial. I must be glowing."
2) "Well, I certainly wish them well as they launch the business. Aren't these crabcakes delicious?"
3) "How terrible for Debra. Maybe we should all pitch in, see if she needs babysitting help or some freezer dinners."
4) Smile mysteriously and say: "I never tell."
5) "Lucky for them, they look like themselves. They could have gotten my ears!"
Graces were taught at a young age that if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. (Yes, I've professed before to love the version attributed to Alice Roosevelt Longworth, too: "If you have nothing nice to say about anyone, come and sit by me," but that policy only applies to a select handful of discreet inner sanctum Graces.) When in doubt, adhere to another oldie but goodie from Will Rogers: "Never miss a good chance to shut up."
And speaking of what not to say, I got a serious kick out of the following song, a riotous parody of Green Day's Time of Your Life