Dear Miss Manners: As I have a long career as a musician and music scholar, I may be asked my opinion of a performance. I reply with a measured response, a statement of approval or a sharp criticism. However, as an audience member there are occasions when I feel obliged to express criticism of the performance, or of excessive approval exhibited by the audience when I believe their unison response lacks understanding. Why should it be acceptable to give standing ovations, etc., at the close of passable performances, but not shouts of critique? I only refer to professional concerts, and not school or amateur performers. My wife says I am rude and feels humiliated upon these circumstances. My therapist comments: “Do no harm.”
Gentle Reader: Online commerce has conditioned us to the unavoidable running commentary from “unsatisfiedcustomer447” on how the toaster did not work as advertised, but not every interaction with our fellow man is subject to review. Nevertheless, curtain calls certainly are, and Miss Manners will defend your right to boo as well as to cheer. But it is not a debate. The person sitting next to you has as much right to express his opinion as you, no matter how ill-informed it may be. Booing your fellow audience members would be impolite, and will, in any case, not be heard over all the “bravos.”
Dear Miss Manners: I received an email from a friend announcing that she would be eloping in two weeks. This seems strange. Doesn’t elopement mean stealing away without anyone’s knowledge, to tie the knot? What do social mores call for in such instances? Should I purchase a gift, or should I simply say good luck/best wishes in a return email?
Gentle Reader: Your friend has found a humorous way to distract you from the fact that she is not inviting you or anyone else to her wedding. That she did so without adding gift registry information warms Miss Manners’ heart. Send a present if you like, but do write, wishing her well and promising not to tip off her parents.
Don’t feel insulted
Dear Miss Manners: I have exchanged birthday cards with a dear friend for 20-plus years. This year she texted and Facebooked, but NO card. I am greatly offended and hurt. Is this acceptable in this age of technology?
Gentle Reader: To be offended at someone’s congratulating you on your birthday in an informal manner? Miss Manners considers that taking insult where none was intended is churlish.Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com