DEAR MISS MANNERS: In a small movie theater, at the end of the show, the couple sitting two seats away from me asked if I had enjoyed the movie.
I smiled and said very much so, and they proceeded to tell me in front of others that I had completely ruined it for them because of my noisy popcorn chewing, and they hadn't been able to hear a thing. I apologized and said they should have told me sooner.
I was horribly mortified and upset, and when I ran into them in the lobby on the way out, I explained that I am the sole caregiver for my disabled husband and am able to get to a movie twice a year at best, and if it was any consolation for them, they had also now completely ruined the experience for me.
I again said they should have said something sooner and walked away before giving them a chance to reply.
Is there any way this could have been handled better by either party? I also don't believe I chew popcorn any louder than anyone else and have certainly never been told so before.
GENTLE READER: Well, Miss Manners is not in a position to weigh in on that. She does agree, however, that if the offending noises were such that the couple could not enjoy the movie, they should have said something at the onset. Something such as, "Excuse me, the popcorn seems to be unusually crunchy, and our seats are so close together. I wonder if you would mind chewing a little more quietly."
Miss Manners cannot guarantee that you would have been any less taken aback by the request, but at least it would have been made politely.