DEAR MISS MANNERS: What are my polite options when two people on either side of my seat lean across me and talk to each other for an extended conversation? (I am the stranger; they seem to know each other.) This has happened on airplanes, at children’s programs and at the opera.
I’d like to be friendly, but often one person holds my arm back to keep me out of their way! I object to the touching, and also, of course, to the assumption that I don’t exist or don’t matter. I’ve pulled out a book and positioned it strategically on a plane, to some effect, but this isn’t appropriate at performances. Must I simply endure until they are finished?
GENTLE READER: Offer to change seats. This is more likely to be accepted in theaters than on airplanes, where no one wants the middle seat. But if you stand up and move into the aisle when you offer, Miss Manners would think they would find it awkward not to accept.