Last week, Robin Abrahams, etiquette columnist for the Boston Globe and author of the new book Miss Conduct's Mind Over Manners, wrote on her blog that she was asked three questions at a recent speaking engagement:
1. Has anyone told you that you look like a female Spock?
2. Can you explain why you don't want to have children?
3. Are you going on a book tour?
As an etiquette maven, Robin was bound to declare that generally speaking, the first two questions are rude and the third perfectly appropriate — even a thoughtful expression of interest in another's life and work. But as a regular person, she says, "The first two questions delighted me beyond all measure, and the third made me miserable." Why? Well, like many first-time authors, Robin found that her publishers didn't think a tour would "make sense," and like many authors at all stages of their careers, she doesn't have "the temporal, financial, or organizational resources" to arrange one herself. Thus, the seemingly innocuous book tour question only reminds her of "the discrepancy between [her] ...