Q: In a small movie theater, at the end of the show, the couple sitting two seats away from me asked if I had enjoyed the movie.
I smiled and said very much so, and they proceeded to tell me in front of others that I had completely ruined it for them because of my noisy popcorn chewing, and they hadn’t been able to hear a thing. I apologized and said they should have told me sooner.
I was horribly mortified and upset, and when I ran into them in the lobby on the way out, I explained that I am the sole caregiver for my disabled husband and am able to get to a movie twice a year at best, and if it was any consolation for them, they had also now completely ruined the experience for me.
I again said they should have said something sooner and walked away before giving them a chance to reply.
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Is there any way this could have been handled better by either party? I also don’t believe I chew popcorn any louder than anyone else and have certainly never been told so before.
A: Well, Miss Manners is not in a position to weigh in on that. She does agree, however, that if the offending noises were such that the couple could not enjoy the movie, they should have said something at the onset. Something such as, “Excuse me, the popcorn seems to be unusually crunchy, and our seats are so close together. I wonder if you would mind chewing a little more quietly.”
Miss Manners cannot guarantee that you would have been any less taken aback by the request, but at least it would have been made politely.
Q: At a friend’s wedding reception, bottles of wine were placed on guests’ tables for consumption during dinner. The reception was a simple and elegant affair that concluded shortly after dinner.
My husband and I were seated with two other couples, including a good friend and her husband. Upon leaving, my friend’s husband took several bottles of unopened wine from other tables, hiding them under his jacket.
I told him, in front of the others at our table, that I didn’t believe that the wine was intended for “take-home” and that he should put them back. He shrugged and ignored me.
I admit that I was rude, but how else should I have handled this? Looked the other way when someone was stealing? Regretfully, this all got back to the bride, who told me to let it go, and that if he was that desperate for a few bottles of wine, so be it. I feel as though I have caused unnecessary strife. What to do now?
A: Apparently you resisted crying out “Stop, thief!” and sounded as if you were merely calling attention to a misunderstanding on his part. So Miss Manners does not think you need to apologize.
But now, having made your point, you would do best to, as the bride and every child under 10 says, “Let it go.”
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, MissManners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.