Miss Manners: Learning concert manners may have to wait

July 10, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My friend’s son wants to go to a concert, and she is not sure if he is too young at age 6. What do you think?

GENTLE READER: When Miss Manners hears the word “concert,” she thinks of the symphony, and if little Wolfgang wants to go, why not take him?

The only prerequisite is that she first teach him concert manners, including sitting quietly and not clapping between symphonic movements.

Wait — is it possible that Miss Manners’s definition of a concert is somewhat narrow? Could little Wolfgang be thinking of something with a bit more noise, obscenity, sex and possibly violence?

In that case, it would not be a good idea to teach him how the audience behaves. The best way to is to keep him home until he is old enough to drive himself there.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I’ve been invited to events where “heavy appetizers” were promised. Typically these are evening affairs. My question is, should I make plans with friends for a light supper before or after the event, or just assume that heavy appetizers equals an evening meal?

Incidentally, I am not quick to line up at food tables and have found that some items are gone while I am standing and visiting with friends.

GENTLE READER: This sounds to Miss Manners like a good reason to make dinner plans. Presumably, those who ate your share won’t have to.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A few years ago, my niece told me that she didn’t get the nice gifts at her wedding that her sister did because they were living together, and married quickly due to my sister and her husband’s unhappiness at their arrangement. So she said she was going to renew her vows when they were married 10 years.

Well, that is this year. The subject was brought up when my family was together this past week. I told my sister and her husband that I didn’t believe it was proper to renew your vows at 10 years and expect guests to bring gifts.

My sister informed me that they weren’t doing that now, and that her daughter was having twins (she has two sons now) and they are having a baby shower. I was more receptive to a baby shower than pledging your vows and expecting a new toaster.

Am I out in left field on expectations of people renewing their vows?

GENTLE READER: What the purpose is of renewing vows is something Miss Manners has never understood. Wedding vows are supposed to be permanent (all evidence to the contrary). Where in the marriage contract is the renewal option?

But she at least supposed that the motivation was sentimental: “I’d marry you again tomorrow — or whenever we can book the hall.”

Your niece was engaging in no such fond foolishness. She simply wants people to buy her stuff, and one excuse will do as well as another. She even seems to be throwing her own baby shower, rather than depending on friends to do so.

The object strikes Miss Manners as the same in both cases, but your finding a difference gives you an excuse to retreat from carping about behavior you are unlikely to change.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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