Originally created 03/10/02

Biological talk is not appropriate conversation



Dear Carson: I have some co-workers who love to talk about digestive systems, bowel movements and other bodily functions at lunchtime in our company break room. We even went to a nice restaurant and, of course, someone had to bring up the subject.

Talk such as this takes away my appetite. I mentioned it to another co-worker and she said, "Both my parents were medical professionals, so I grew up with that type of talk around the kitchen table. It doesn't bother me."

Well, I didn't grow up with it, and it bothers me. How can I get this type of talk to stop without coming out and saying so? - Disgusted Co-Worker

Dear Reader: I think you are going have to come out and say something. Perhaps some response such as, "Could we table scatological comments while we are eating? I know it doesn't bother some people, but it turns the stomachs of some of us."

When I was growing up and someone (usually my brother) brought up a nonappetizing topic, my mother would respond, "Not at the table!" Subjects deemed taboo for mealtime topics are operations, bodily functions, or upsetting and controversial matters.

Dear Carson: When a couple divorce, is it proper or customary for the woman to return the wedding rings to the man? - Ownership Obligations

Dear Reader: Wedding rings are considered a gift and need not be returned unless the marriage was of an unusually short duration (less than a year).

An exception would be if the rings were family heirlooms passed down through generations. In that case I would suggest that the wife offer them for purchase by a family member.

Dear Carson: In reference to your Feb. 10 column about "feeding guests," I tend to agree with the writer. The term might not be exactly improper, but it is most definitely slang.

Don't you agree that, "How many people are going to eat?" or, "How many people will be at the party?" sounds more educated than, "How many people are you going to feed?" - Reader

Dear Reader: I agree, and the suggestions you offer are far more preferable. However, there are so many more egregious expressions I would take issue with, one of them being "You guys" (which is not only gender incorrect but also is infuriating). If I were to pick my battles, that is not one hill I would choose to die on.

Write to Ask Carson, The Augusta Chronicle, PO Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. Send e-mail to askcarson@home.com. Carson Elliott's Web site is at www.theproperthing.com.