How Do You Politely…


…tell someone…who corners you every chance they get…

locking you into conversations having no real relevance or are so tangential you cannot even follow them.

When this person speaks of October, they are talking about October of 1980…not October a few days ago…

This person blocks doorways and doesn’t allow two-way conversations because they know your words will be, “I have to go”.  “Somethings burning in the oven.”  “I have to wash my hair.”

The worst part is this person has a very distracting facial-feature.

She has a beard. 

A straggly, pointy, out of control chin-goatee-like beard (with very long and wild hairs) you can’t help but focus on while these conversations about 1980 and bean sprouts and flying pigs and erasers are taking place.

No, the beard is not her fault.  And I fully understand the medical reasons why women can get facial hair, but it’s just that the untamed beard sidetracks you.  And you feel guilty for looking at it.  It’s so bushy and she’s in your face and you can’t get away without telling her some sort of fib. 

There is just nothing worse than being sucked into these conversations at every untimely moment.  No one has time for it. 

It’s really, really difficult.

And no she is not senile, or mentally ill or really old.

And yes, she is obviously lonely but…but…

So how do you tell her politely, that you have to go…without hurting her feelings.

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77 Comments

  1. snowmoonelk 1

    Why don’t you invite her to DO something, rather than talk about it? You could DO something together (lie a yoga class) and then you would both have a topic of conversation relevant to you, OR you could ask her to do you a favour – maybe she’d like the chance to do a kindness for you, or maybe she’d run a mile…why don’t you say to her, “I’m going to the beauty parlour, would you like to tag along?”…or…”hey, wouldn’t it be fun if we booked ourselves in for a facial sometime soon?”

    Reply
  2. Evelyn 2

    There’s no excuse in this day and age for someone to allow themselves to look like that. If she is not senile and has good eyesight then she should be taking better care of herself. If she cannot take care of herself, then someone could offer to drive her to a salon where she could receive some care. Nobody is superhuman where they need to suffer themselves because someone is lonely. It’s a big world with lots of help out there if you seek it out.
    And a good magnifying 10x mirror with tweezers always helps.

    Reply
  3. The sad thing about this lady is that she is probably used to people avoiding her, and even sadder, has not realized that maybe there is some way she is responsible for the reaction ( I’ve gotta get away from her ) she gets.
    I do have encounters with persons like her, and my sympathy, and sometimes pity, are usually worn away by the fact that often these persons are unable or unwilling to care about anyone else when it comes to conversation or relationships. Which might explain why it is almost unbearable to be in their presence for more than a minute or two.

    When you find a solution, let me know !

    Reply
  4. Diane 4

    For the beard issue you need a 9 year old child who will take one look at Aunty and then say “Why do you have a beard?”
    We were mortified by what he said but it did the trick.

    Reply
  5. Lore 5

    Love Diane’s solution. Maybe one of your boys would like to earn some extra pocket money 😉

    Reply
  6. Tanya 6

    I’m not sure what to tell you when it comes to trying to get out of having a conversation with this person, but…ewww! Chin hairs! A friend I’ve had since junior high and is married to one of my husband’s friends has this problem. It is so distracting! My husband gets really grossed out by it and doesn’t know how her husband can’t say anything. I told him it’s probably a touchy subject you don’t want to talk to your wife about.

    I like the idea from a previous commenter. All that needs to happen is for a loud, young child to walk up to her and she’ll get the message!

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  7. You hide from her?

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  8. Laura 8

    When I took AWKWARD 101 in college, the teacher said that interrupting is okay under those circumstances which involve doorways and unfortunate bearded ladies.
    A simple, “Sally, as usual, I have to be off because I have a list of errands. Great to see you!”

    Good luck.

    (And no, there is no AWKWARD 101.)

    Reply
  9. Oh man! I hate that! And I am a sucker and sit there and let them ramble on for days about crap I don’t want to hear about because I feel bad for them. The beard-ACK. Don’t people realize there are facial hair removal creams? Maybe I’m shallow, but my appearance is important to me. No way in hell I’d leave the house with a freakin beard. *shudder*

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  10. I agree with Kathy B. And I’m a complete sucker. It must be stamped on my forehead because these people flock to me. I do feel for them, but, again, I agree with Kathy B. that often these people are so sunk in their own miserable state that they are incapable of thinking of others.

    Oh well. They’re better than the conversational bullies. I was once a Brownie co-leader with one of those. She took every chance she could to corner me–very literally and physically corner me–and rant about her politics and religion and other things which I could not agree with her on, breathing in my face the entire time *while* telling me how she’d been sick lately. One time she walked toward me and I continued taking steps back until she had me backed up against a wall. Then she leaned in and put her arm on the wall behind me ranting about someone else all the while. And she always had that sick breath that smells of cold scrambled eggs with onion. (I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.) This malicious kind is easier to deal with though because I don’t feel sorry for them and can actually allow myself to be angry. During a rant about boycotting Disney and Disney World/Land, I told her I would JUMP at the chance to go to Disney World for some fantastic Scout program they had there. I’d read an article about it and I sung their praises to her knowing it would totally piss her off. She hardly ever spoke to me again. Before long she left the troop. I was so heartbroken.

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  11. Barbie with a T 12

    There is no way I could put up with this person. As far as a solution, I cannot think of any to keep from hurting their feelings, other than ignoring them. And I understand, some people you just cannot ignore. I am curious to see if anybody has a solution to your problem.

    I do have an aquaintance who seems very lonely, and she has this allergic red rash, sort of peely looking, all over her face, neck and arms (she says she is allergic to flour). To top it off, she works in cardiology department at the local hospital. She is trying very hard to be friendly, but I just cannot look at her without staring at her rash, and it does make me very uncomfortable. So I will be looking at your comments today to see if anybody has a solution. Thanks for sharing. It gave me a chance to share also.

    Reply
  12. Flea 13

    I hope you get a good answer to this one. I have trouble with it as well. When not cornered, I’ve learned the fine art of ignoring. Cornered? Whole ‘nother story.

    Reply
  13. I have no patience for people who can’t, or don’t even remotely attempt, to read other’s signals. It’s just downright selfish.

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  14. Even though I could be both instructor and subject matter in Awkward 101 I didn’t get much out of the class because the teacher always told me to put my head down because I talked too much.
    My problem is that bearded ladies and their ilk (persons with significant body odor, bad breath, and/or no human friends) LOVE me. I am simply too nice. Lately I’ve developed an interesting defense — I pretend not to hear. I smile and keep moving. If they can have beards I can have facial-hair induced deafness.

    Reply
  15. am I the only one here thinking, “is this me?” 😉

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  16. Suzette 17

    Miss Passive Aggressive here….

    How about avoidance? Walk really fast and fling a “Wish I could stop and chat, but…you know how it is!” Or something like that. Moving targets are hard to hit!

    We had a person at work who was sort of like this. She would trap you in your cube, and you couldn’t escape! You could continue working, totally ignoring her, and she wouldn’t pick up on it. If you got a call, she would wait RIGHT THERE until you were done! She had no perception of personal space. Sometimes she would stand so close, her boobs would squish against you. EWWWWW! But, if she approached where there was an exit route…feigning a meeting or deadline in another room worked every time. Thank goodness, she was also incompetent and eventually was let go. Whew!

    Reply
  17. Becky 18

    Being rude is against my nature. I am usually nice to a fault. But sometimes I have no choice. I have learned to find a way to end a conversation. Either by agreeing or disagreeing. It’s something I’ve had to practice. But it works, MOST of the time.

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  18. I think I could have taught “Awkward 101” at times, however I’ve gotten better at dealing with situations like this since a few of the folks with disabilities I work with lack self awareness or direction.
    I give them a few moments of smiles and kindness while I listen and then I really do have a list of tasks to get to, and I pull away as kindly as possible. And no, I wouldn’t tell them about the beard. Odds are they probably know.

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  19. I’m laughing too hard to come up with an answer…when I got to the part where you said she had a beard, I almost fell out of my chair laughing. Isn’t that awful? I just got this visual in my head of what she looks like and I lost it.

    Reply
  20. HoneyB 21

    LOL, Oh and I thought I had it bad. I have a similar situation but she is beardless. hehe. Mine is a co-worker though and I just say to her, I’m sorry, I really don’t have time for this, I’m on a deadline. She finally has gotten the hint and doesn’t bother me (as much).

    Reply
  21. marcy 22

    wow Cathy, I hope you can figure out a solution soon. I agree that she should be able to do something about the beard in this day and age…and maybe tell her that you would love to chat with her over a cup of coffee later on or something… hope you can figure it out!

    Reply
  22. Kyddryn 23

    “I’m so sorry, I simply haven’t time for this conversation right now. Would you please excuse me?”

    When in doubt, courtesy them into submission.

    Shade and Sweetwater,
    K

    Reply
  23. have her read your blog…

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  24. LOL!
    I was thinking “It can’t be me. I got rid of the scraggly chin hair!”

    Reply
  25. Katrina 26

    We’ve all been there, probably on both ends! 😉 I certainly have been the one on your end, I even have a friend who is that way a bit and just never leaves, and one time I saw that she was at my parents house, who we were visiting, but instead of stopping, be drove on, leaving my mom to talk with her!

    Reply
  26. Chinya 27

    Cathy, my son is for rent if you would like to use him. He’s four, extremely loud,available M-F and requires only pb & j and juice. If he malfunctions, you can tie a toy to a string and dangle it in back of “bearded lady’s” head. This should do the trick.

    Reply
  27. Start talking about bikini waxes & your kids biological functions. Maybe she’ll think you are the one to avoid. Or get the hint about waxing….

    Reply
  28. Teri 29

    The last few times these situations have happened, my husband was standing close by, so I politely bowed out of the conversation leaving him (for dead) behind! My kids usually ask me what I’m giggling about as I come back in the house! Now they they know what I’m up to!

    Then usually within 20-30 minutes they see my husbands scrunched up red face come back in after having to listen to some oddball neighbors life-story… I know, it’s not very nice! But it’s all I’ve got!

    Reply
  29. tipper 30

    Your life is like a Sienfeld Episode!!

    Reply
  30. Trisha 31

    Such a difficult situation. I have no idea how to get out of it politely. The whole beard thing . . . I can see how that would be distracting. Maybe you can offer to take her to your waxing lady (if you have one) for a “fun” day. Of course then you would be stuck with her and her stories . . .

    Reply
  31. Alisa 32

    Um, you know the weirdest people. You make me glad I’m in So Cal and people here just ignore eachother. Yep, you sure do.
    I’ll help you, if you help me tell The Boy’s soccer coach to please put some clothes on and quit bending over in front of my husband with her “Juicy” shorts on.
    Do we have a deal?

    Reply
  32. le w 33

    Easy.

    Have your cell phone in your hand when you see her approach. Pretend to get a call. Start talking and say, “I have to take this. Take care, my friend!”

    Walk away with phone to your ear, having a pretend conversation and just get out of there. Repeat everytime you see her.

    You are no longer available, the hint will be received if done confidently and yes, repeatedly. It works.

    Reply
  33. Being cornered by the Bearded Lady should totally have been a Seinfeld episode!!

    Reply
  34. Cynthia 35

    Oh Lord!! LOL You sure do have a lot of weirdos there! I’d give her a cute gift bag of girly things for Christmas–INCLUDING facial wax or depilatory, natch.
    Just curious, is this person a neighbor, or someone you have to run into in the course of just living your life? Or is it someone who frequents your local coffee shop or whatever, and whom you could avoid by changing your routine slightly?

    Reply
  35. ELRA 36

    I honestly feel sorry for her, I found when people are behaving like that, most likely he or she is lack of confident. Maybe, she knows that people always looking at her (beard) part, that is why she tried to distract people by dominating the conversation. Is that possible?

    Reply
  36. Rhea 37

    Oh, that’s a tough one. Clinically, it’s called narcissism. Sometimes you could even drop a set of dishes to the floor and the person will not stop talking.

    Reply
  37. ALF 38

    I don’t know. I have no useful advice to give you. Sorry. I am horrible at things like that. I would be standing there talking to her for hours because I wouldn’t want to be rude.

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  38. Dejoni 39

    Tell her you have leprosy and it’s very contagious.

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  39. I’ve never found the right words, so I am generally found talking to the bearded ones in the room. I smile, I nod, I try really hard to engage and enjoy until I am set free. (Did I mention I excelled on the stage in my earlier days? It’s a blessing that comes in handy at moments such as these.)

    Reply
  40. Susan 41

    I too have a lady I cant get away from here at work. She corners me in the bathroom, so it’s come to the point where if I hear her speaking to someone else, I’ll just sit and wait!
    I have no better advice :)

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  41. When you figure it out, please let me know!

    (Don’t we all have one of these people…? Don’t we?)

    Off to read comments hoping for insight…

    Reply
  42. susan 43

    hi cathy,
    i just found your blog and absolutely love your writing and your photographs. and your sons are adorable! hooligan #2 looks like the next james dean.

    Reply
  43. Leslie 44

    3 words…Laser Hair Removal!!!
    Sneek a business card for a laser hair removal center in her purse! LOL

    Reply
  44. Bridgett 45

    I don’t think I could be rude to someone who isn’t up to some proper social appearance but I find it easier to be rude to those snickering behind her back. My guess is she has no clue she has a beard but is very aware people are avoiding her. I gave a very lonely chatty lady like this a few minutes of my time once and listened to her aches and pains then politely excused myself as my daughter class was let out. Now I get a polite wave and a hello from her and she no longer tries to corner me. I think if you let her have her “moment” for a little while, she may just be less aggressive for your ear. But then, I lean towards optimism so I could be wrong.

    Reply
  45. Mike 46

    *crkrkrkrkkr* hey, sorry, I’m losing you, going in a tunnel…lol, even though we’re not on the phone…

    lol, not really sure what to say though. I have a system with a coworker for when either of us gets trapped at our computer by an endless conversationalist…we just send each other a distress instant message (“!!!!!!!”) which is a cue for that person to call you “about work” ASAP

    Reply
  46. M Ayers 47

    I suck at being rude also. Maybe its time to live with the fact that you have a bearded lady that talks about the 80’s in your life? It might be humorous once you accept it. She is in your life. Really. Of all the people in this world to meet, you met her! That is some funny shit! She might have a chunk load of money for you when she dies because you were the only one to ever talk to her. You never know.

    Monique

    Reply
  47. So when are you inviting her to yoga class? After the dual facials you can head to Starbucks for some laughs…

    Let me know how THAT works for ya…

    Reply
  48. Raina 49

    I don’t know, is it rude or being honest? I have the attendency to just say what I am thinking or feeling about something. I would probably say, you know what as much as we try to strike up conversation everytime we see each other it seems we don’t have a lot in common, what do you think? And see what she says, you can say I don’t mean to be rude or disrespectful but seriously, what is going on with the beard…There is sooooo many ways to take care of that now so I have to agree with one of the posts there is just no reason for that unless you want to have one and in that case…Ewwwwww

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  49. phillygirl64 50

    rofl…I know it’s not me because I meet up with Mr. Tweezerman every night

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  50. You just hurt her feelings… – as gently but firmly as possible.

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  51. Pam 52

    Oh Cathy…this is such a hard situation. I am going through a similar experience (although she doesn’t have a beard). There’s a mother at my daughters school who keeps asking for a play date but her daughter is a HORRIBLE bully and I don’t want my daughter picking up her terrible behavior. I just keep stalling and making excuses – I am such a wimp.

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  52. I would work on my periphereal vision girlfriend. You gotta duck and cover when you see her comin’! Work on your hackles! Get them to raise whenever she is within twenty feet of you so you will know when to flee! I have known a few people like that – one person in particular. The problem was that I was letting her have control. I finally learned to cut her off at the pass. Her interest in me quickly waned after that.

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  53. HA! I have one of those ladies in my office… no beard, but crazy crazy amounts of saliva flying out all over the place when she talks. About herself. Only herself. She NEVER asks how anyone else is… I try to avoid the situation entirely, but sometimes get stuck in the break room listening to 20 minutes of a tennis lesson story. Argh.

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  54. I’ve been known to cross my legs and say “uh oh – gotta pee!” lol

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  55. Cheryl 56

    Wish I could help, but in similar situations I notoriously listen for far too long — unsure of the psychological ramifications of “ignoring” the too-oft ignored, and/or the self-inflicted guilt for my own distaste/unwillingness to engage.

    Although you know what does help get me through when you feel as though you have to have at LEAST some small interaction, that movie Shallow Hal — where the hearts of the empirically “challenged” were good, good hearts buried behind the horrific visage. (Even if they can’t get off of 1980…)

    OR, you could just say, “You know I have this errant chin hair that keeps on coming back, and I know (since we’re friends and all…) that this is something you occasionally have to confront) have you any advice for keeping them at bay?”

    Maybe just maybe it might be the hint the bearded lady needs….

    Good luck, Sister!

    Reply
  56. Set your cell phone alarm to go off every time she comes barreling toward you so you can shout, “Sweet Wounded Jesus it’s back! It’s back!” and go dashing out of the building. Then hide until she leaves.

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  57. You need to find a time when your not in a hurry and force yourself into the conversation. If she wants to talk about 1980 then remember something from 1980 and break in. Be as boring as possible. Stretch your remarks out. Soon she will avoid you like the plague.

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  58. I’m a sucker…I’ll stand there until I can make an escape at some point…It usually takes me several attempts…because I feel bad gosh darn it for them….though I usually try to avoid them in the same token…

    And I understand the reasons behind females with facial hair..I mean heck I work in the medical field….but HELLO wax was created for a reason! It’s not something she has to live with…even men don’t live with facial hair unless they want too….

    But I like Dr. John’s approach….reverse psychology….Dr John are a psychologist??

    Reply
  59. Amber 60

    Cathy, I have no idea. I just came here looking for the answer. Thanks for posing a tough question. I work in a grocery store and often face people with some disfigurement or such, but they leave after I take all their money. I do work with the most negative man on the planet who likes to corner me. I just try to squeeze out and say “The glass is half full Jim.”

    Reply
  60. Oh, Good Grief!! What a predicament! Wear track shoes whenever you go out…? Start coughing in her face, without bothering to use a handkerchief or your arm/hand to cover your mouth when you cough? I don’t know…?

    Reply
  61. sassy 62

    I used to know an older woman who cornered people and talked and talked and talked, and when she was done, she talked some more. She did`nt have a beard but still…….

    Everyone avoided her for the most part, when you saw her first that is. But sometimes i got caught, and would stand there in the grocery store listening everything about her family and then some. you could not get a word in edgewise. I wish she`d had a beard so i could have concentrated on something!

    Anyway, avoidence at all possible cost is probably the best way to go about dealing with people like that.

    Reply
  62. Bunny 63

    I wish all I had to look at was little beard! I know a woman and her husband that work at the restaurant I work at (they don’t work around the customers), that BOTH have a mouth full of rotted teeth. I don’t think they have one good tooth between the 2 of them! I’m serious! When she talks to you your eyes go to her mouth, she has jagged broken rotted teeth and you can’t help but have your eyes go there while your talking to her! This woman is a very good employee and would do absolutely anything for you. She has asked to work out front being a waitress or hostess, how do you tell somebody that although she would probably be very good at the job people would be very turned off by her teeth???!!! It’s like she doesn’t see it or doesn’t think it’s that bad, I don’t know. We couldn’t believe she asked to be a waitress or hostess. I can’t believe she hasn’t gotten really sick from it, we’re talking about a woman and man in there 40’s who obviously NEVER went to a dentist in they’re life. It’s a terrible shame is what it is.

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  63. oh uh uh that’s tough.
    TAG!!

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  64. Katie 65

    Is this the same unfortunate lady with the foul breath?

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  65. liv 66

    Run…. Run, and scream and yell “The bearded circus women is going to eat me…”

    Then feel like an absolute jerk. And no, this is not based on any sort of real life personal experience…. ok, maybe a little.

    Reply
  66. Tammy 67

    Oh my gosh I think I worked with her.
    Does she pick her nose with her pinky while she is on the phone?
    Or if there is a box of chocolates in the break room does she use the same pinky finger to poke the bottom to see what is inside?
    If she does…yup that’s her!

    Reply
  67. Carolyn 68

    Well… If she reads your blog, chances are you don’t have to anymore.

    I only recently discovered your site, but if you’re as fun, bright, and entertaining as you seem -it’s no surprise she’s drawn to you. I’d tend to take the sympathetic and charitable approach. Chances are NO ONE enjoys thier face to face encounters with her, which means she’s probably pretty lonely. Even us fun, social, single girls have to go home to a lonely empty home each night (A gentle reminder to all you married-with-children people). I couldn’t even imagine also going about my day while everyone avoids me, whithout anyone to talk to, how lonely. My solution to your issue – Give her a call. Make the poor lonely woman’s day. Then put her on speaker phone and start multi-tasking with a couple “Uh,ha”‘s thrown in. You’ve made her day, and quite possibly her week. And next time you run into her, maybe she’ll look a little less ugly now that you’ve gotten to know her, and if not…. you’ve done your duty and shouldn’t feel guilty telling her you’ve got to run and don’t have time to chat.

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  68. First off I hope that this person or others who know her DON’T read your blog.

    But as to your question – sounds like your only option is to say gotta go, personal _____ to attend to.

    Kinda sucks, but…

    Good luck!

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  69. Diane 70

    I go mad when my tweezers disappear to the other side of the room.
    I had an ovary scan to make sure I’d not got PCOS and the lady scanner asked why I was having a scan and burst into laughter when I told her. She did apologise massively for laughing at my hair chin (Sounds a lot worse than it is) but she did have to wait for me to stop laughing too. I don’t want to get old and beardy though and have got one of those electrolysis things but you have to wait for the hairs to get reasonably wrong whereas I can tweezer them out when they’re really tiny. I will zap them one day though.
    I have 72 year old friend who’s made me promise to not ever let her go out with a hairy chin!

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  70. grace 71

    i don’t know any bearded ladies, but my grandma has a wart-type thing on her face that has a whisker sprouting out of it. she refuses to cut it. :)

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  71. jancd 72

    You just remember that God loves her the same way He loves all of us-unconditionally.

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  72. Just tell her you’re sorry but you have to go. That’s what I do.

    Even because of medical reasons, that much hair should be taken care of (wax, cut, etc.).

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  73. dawn 74

    so standing next to her while having a conversation while you use a facial hair trimmer to faux trim your facial hair is out?
    would that work? LOL

    Reply
  74. Egghead 75

    I agree with Tipper. I was thinking the whole time that this must be a Sienfield episode. Not that is it is funny to you Cathy, but it is funny to imagine what is going through your mind at a moment like this.

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  75. Kate 76

    Even telling her you’ve got to pee may have her following you into the bathroom. I like the cell phone idea. And the small child asking her why she has a beard, too. But she needs to get some help with that problem. I mean, in this day and age, there has to be something out there . . .

    Reply
  76. Calista 77

    ….Hey, why don’t we continue this conversation while you’re getting your chin waxxed, shall we?…. just kiddin’

    Reply

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