DEAR MISS MANNERS: A brother whom I love is planning his wedding in a religious ceremony I disagree with. Is there a way to honor him and his bride while in no way implying I endorse the religious ceremony?
I seem to remember reading in the past about standing when they proceed up and down the aisle but sitting through everything else. (Although I also heartily disapprove of the father "giving" his daughter away so would choke on the walk up the aisle.) Or I've thought of skipping the wedding ceremony and attending the reception.
Sometimes I remind myself that this is their day and it may not matter to anyone else what I choose to do. However, over the last couple years, I've been making tremendous progress in thinking about what I believe in and acting on it. I do not want to make a scene but I do want to be true to myself.
GENTLE READER: Then you should not attend if you don't approve of the bridesmaids' dresses. And stay away from the reception if you haven't been given approval rights over the flavor of the wedding cake.
Where did you get the vainglorious idea that your presence at your brother's wedding would constitute putting your seal of approval on any theological or social ritual involved? You are not there as a judge, but as a witness. Anything you do to show disapproval, including boycotting the ceremony, will only symbolize disapproval of your brother or of his bride.
Miss Manners has learned to be wary of those who declare too roundly that they are true to themselves. Too often it turns out to be at the expense of decencies toward others.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My friends and I often attend springtime home and garden tours put on by various neighborhood and historic preservation groups.
On many of these tours, we find ourselves trying to exit from a house after touring it and are unable to do so as we open the door and large numbers of folks keep entering -- showing no pause in relenting to let us exit. The same happens when we are at an upstairs level attempting to descend on often-narrow staircases that only allow one-way traffic. The person at the top is stuck as one person after another comes up and never glances up to see if anyone would like to come down.
I've also run into this problem during large parties at private homes and at open-house real-estate showings. My instinct is that the person wanting to exit or descend has the right-of-way, but this is obviously not the general instinct, as people continue to barge in or pile up the stairs as those stranded at the top landing or just inside the door stand helplessly back against the throng, creating ever more of a crowd inside. What is the appropriate procedure?
GENTLE READER: Let's assume that those entering don't see that there are people at the top. Miss Manners doesn't believe it, either, having encountered those people while she was trying to get off a bus, but let's assume it. To enlighten them, you tell them, "Coming out, please. Let us get out of your way so you'll have room to get through."
Then you stand helplessly back as they barge through anyway.