Miss Manners

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My daughter was accepted into a small, prestigious performing arts program in New York City, instead of a traditional college. From the time she was a small child, she has never wanted to do anything else with her life other than pursue her art.

She received wide recognition locally and at her high school, and all of her teachers and mentors have told us that she has the passion and the talent to be successful. We proudly provide the financial support she needs to take this next step, and we are all well aware of how difficult it is to “make it” in the performing arts.

How do we deal with people who seem to view all of this as amusing folly? People constantly ask her what she will do “to support herself” if she can’t find work in her field. They advise us to “make” her switch to a “real” school. When they ask about an alternative career path, we say there is no Plan B. And then they say things like we’ll be supporting her forever, be ready for her to boomerang back home, etc.

The arts elevate us in good times and soothe our souls in bad times. Everyone wants to live in a place with good culture. So why aren’t people more supportive of the artists who are striving to bring beauty into the world? Not everyone can be an accountant or a software engineer!

GENTLE READER: Indeed. And that would be a charming and deflective response to nosy dissenters. But while Miss Manners commends your passion, she urges you to focus your energies on your daughter’s contribution to the arts, rather than efforts to convince the world of its significance. With any luck, your daughter will eventually be able to do that by example.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A young woman I know is six months pregnant and wants to announce it to the family when attending her uncle’s wedding. This will be the first great-grandchild, and is a big deal in this family of five siblings. Do you think the pregnant niece should tell the bride?

GENTLE READER: At six months, she likely will not have to. As the family is already gathered, it seems a good time to give out family news.

Miss Manners suspects that your real question is whether it will upstage the bride. But if everyone cannot figure out which of the two women is the bride, there is clearly a greater problem.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My neighbor at work files her nails fairly often. It is a truly intolerable noise to me, and I have asked her to refrain. She obliges, but then forgets and starts again.

Is there anything I can do besides repeatedly asking her to stop? I am sometimes reduced to running to the supply closet to look for paper clips I don’t need in order to avoid hounding her on the issue. Does that sound really not bother anyone else?

GENTLE READER: Very likely it does. But for maximum result, Miss Manners suggests that you act as though it is your problem, not your colleague’s: “I am so sorry, but I have extremely sensitive ears. I wonder if you might be able to do that in another room.”

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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