DEAR MISS MANNERS: On a four-hour train trip, I showed my husband some silly birthday cards I had purchased for my close women friends. These cards featured oddly dressed people -- elderly women wearing an excess of makeup and jewelry, a group of women showing cleavage and toasting the recipient of the card with very large drinks -- no nudity, no violence, no simulated sexual acts, no epithets.
The messages were "Age is just a number," "Come celebrate with your girls," "Now we put our faces on with a spackle knife." We were looking at them and giggling, NOT loudly, and discussing which to send to whom.
An elderly woman who was seated behind us with a young man who looked to be in his late teens or early 20s said, in a VERY loud voice: "I just can't believe the sort of offensive greeting cards that are being sold nowadays! I can't even imagine what sort of tasteless person would actually send such things!"
We realized that the woman must have been peering between the very narrow space between the seats or over the very high tops of the seats and eavesdropping on us.
I put the cards back into the bag and we ended that discussion, but we remained uncomfortable throughout the rest of our journey, especially since the woman glared at us every time we got up to use the restroom. Should we have apologized? I felt her own behavior was, itself, quite rude.
GENTLE READER: For what, exactly, Miss Manners wonders, would you apologize?
The temptation must have been great to say audibly to your husband, "These are so much fun. Can you believe that some people have no sense of humor?" But you did right to ignore what was said by an eaves-and-eye-dropper in a way she hoped would shield her from consequences. Take comfort in the fact that by acting as if you had not heard, her rudeness likely brought her no pleasure.