DEAR MISS MANNERS: I recently attended a debate at a university over a very hot political issue. As I'm sure is usually the case with audience members at this type of event, I was very much opposed to one of the debaters and very much in agreement with the other and so was struck with an etiquette question.
Is it considered rude to refuse to applaud one speaker at a debate while applauding the other?
I always applaud at concerts, plays, etc. -- even if the performance is bad -- if only to acknowledge their efforts, but I was so opposed to this person's views and disappointed in the weakness of his arguments that I could not bring myself to clap. Was I just being rude and immature?
GENTLE READER: What school was this? Miss Manners would be delighted, not to mention flabbergasted, to hear of a campus where withholding applause as a form of protest would be as rude as it gets.
Applause is not owed in a public forum or performance the way it is at your friends' poetry readings or their children's violin recitals. To oppose a speaker by shouting him down or pushing a pie in his face is rude. To sit on your hands, rather than applaud sentiments you do not endorse, is not only perfectly polite but positively restrained.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My girlfriends and I were comparing blind-date horror stories one night over dinner and we noticed a common theme. No matter how rude or inconsiderate our date was, none of us left during the date.
Case in point: I met a blind date at a local restaurant. I was pretty sure there was not going to be a future with this gentleman, but was determined to have a pleasant evening anyway. The waiter came to our table to hand us our menus and my date not only took both of the menus, but put them as far away from me as possible.
I was stunned and a little annoyed, but instead of getting up and leaving, I sat and sipped my water while he ate an appetizer. Miss Manners, do you have any advice for us single girls having to put up with this type of behavior that won't cause us to stoop to the level of our boorish dates?
GENTLE READER: Going to the restroom and never reappearing is rude. Telling someone who has insulted you in the way you describe, "Well, I'll leave you to enjoy your food" would strike Miss Manners as warranted.
She strongly suggests that in the future you tell whoever or whatever is fixing you up with boors that you only care to meet gentlemen. Miss Manners is amazed that people seem to think enjoying old movies and walks on the beach are more important qualities to specify than manners.