DEAR MISS MANNERS: Is it appropriate for the Nobel Committee to call prize winners at all hours of the night in order to inform them of their award?
I understand that the Nobel Prize is very important, but it seems to me that it does not qualify as an emergency, and I assume that prize winners are busy people who may be expected to give lectures the next morning.
Also, I think that the Nobel Committee can be expected to be aware of time zone differences.
GENTLE READER: Probably the Nobel Committee can figure out the time difference. But Miss Manners warns you that you are suggesting that they deprive themselves of half the fun in giving out the prizes.
The routine is that some physicist or chemist who leads a quiet academic life is startled awake by the telephone, only to assume that a merry colleague or cheeky student has pried into his or her dreams and is ridiculing those secret fantasies.
"You can't fool me," says the winner crossly. "That fake accent of yours is terrible."
"What is it, dear?" asks the sleepy spouse.
"It's a hoax."
"How do you know?"
Meanwhile, the Nobel Committee representative, who has been through all this before, is hugely enjoying the situation while reassuring the winner that the dream has really come true.
As for the next morning's lecture, you needn't worry. Everyone in the lab will be swilling champagne, and no lectures will be given that day.