DEAR MISS MANNERS: The performance has been magnificent. The curtain has fallen. The audience applauds. The stars come out for their curtain calls preceded by the supporting members of the cast.
The audience cheers appropriately and is thrilled with the excitement and good mood that comes with seeing such a wonderful show -- or much of the audience, that is. Some get up to leave the instant the last line is spoken or before, without giving so much as a single clap in recognition or appreciation.
I'm not talking about declining the opportunity to spend 10 minutes in a standing ovation. I'm talking about scrambling to leave before the house lights are on.
Do I have your permission to become so entranced by the goings-on on stage while standing and cheering that I block the people who are trying to trample over me so they can avoid the crowded traffic in the parking lot?
GENTLE READER: Or so they can relieve the baby sitter? Or catch the last train home? Or prevent themselves from booing a performance they disliked?
Miss Manners adores the theater and claps enthusiastically to express her enjoyment. But that is because she holds with theatrical tradition in considering the curtain call the proper time for the audience to express its opinion, not for it to give thanks.
When she does not enjoy a professional performance, she does not avail herself of the opportunity to boo, because she is too shy. But she admits to relishing it when a more robust attendee lets it be known that a production is pretentious or vulgar.
Does that make her disrespectful of the feelings of the artists involved? On the contrary, she respects them by not treating them like children who are told "Good job!" for every effort, no matter how misguided. Or like amateurs, whose invited guests should properly offer what compliments they can.
The upside for professionals, should others discriminate, would be knowing that the applause meant genuine appreciation, and that standing applause signaled an extraordinary success.
So please don't block the aisles.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I just graduated from college and my mom sent out announcements to family and friends. I received graduation money in all the cards except for one.
Do I send a thank-you note to the people who did not send money? (They are more than capable of sending money.) I have sent out thank-you notes to everyone else except these people.
GENTLE READER: You are correct that all presents require letters of thanks, and that congratulations alone do not.
However, Miss Manners hopes that those who received your graduation announcements knew that they were obligated only to congratulate you, and that anything more was strictly voluntary. It is a fine achievement to finish college, but not one for which you are paid through a tax that is levied on family and friends.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have heard that gentlemen do not wear gold jewelry after dark. Is this true, and why would that be so?
GENTLE READER: That is not a custom with which Miss Manners is familiar. But then, the gentlemen she knows keep their wedding rings on their fingers when they go out after dark.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, email@example.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)