DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I left a job of eight years, my coworkers took me out to lunch on my last day and, back at work, presented me with a beautiful cake. I was stuffed from lunch and made the comment that I would like to wait until later to enjoy some of the cake.
A coworker then informed me that just because I was stuffed didn't mean that the others would not like some cake and that it was my responsibility to cut the cake and serve it to everyone.
I felt like a child being chastised, but completed the job I had been assigned. I've always believed that the guest of honor's only job at a party is to enjoy the celebration. Am I wrong?
GENTLE READER: Yes. Miss Manners supposes that you felt like a child because it is a lesson that is taught to children in connection with their birthday parties.
The lesson is that being the guest of honor does not excuse you from consideration for the other guests. On the contrary, you are indebted to them for honoring you.
So -- do we hug the cake and run off with it to eat all by ourselves when we feel like it? Nooo, dear, we do not.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: With the advent of stadium seating in movies, I have run across a problem. The seat behind now puts that viewer's feet in the middle of the back of my chair. Often I find that people will kick the back of my chair, literally jolting me out of mine.
I understand that I have issues with anxiety and that I am sensitive. However, because the chairs now recline back easily, and sometimes the kick is so swift, I physically go flying.
The last time this happened was in a horror film (I know -- what is a person with anxiety issues doing in a horror film? -- but that aside). I purposely sat where there was no one behind me and would have moved if someone sat down before the movie started.
But then some latecomers sat down and my chair got kicked so hard and the chair so loose, I thought I was a crash test dummy. I am not exaggerating. I turned around and said, "Would you please not kick the back of my chair. You scared me."
Now it is a movie, so I do have to raise my voice simply to be heard. But I started to laugh to let them know that I wasn't angry, just frightened.
The kicker's company gave a dirty look like I was being rude. The kicker himself laughed with me.
The idea of disrupting someone's entertainment really bothers me, but they are disrupting mine.
GENTLE READER: Or adding to it by the sight of you flying out of your chair.
A grin does not really take the sting out of being scolded publicly, even, Miss Manners notes, to someone who is in the wrong. This is why such requests should be paradoxically made in the form of apologies, with a whispered "Sorry, but I'm afraid you're knocking against my chair."