Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Stealing the Show: Noisemakers, Filmmakers and Troublemakers

All Yvette wanted to do was sit back and enjoy Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald in concert. She could hear everything just fine, but McDonald’s body had a camera for a head, compliments of the bootlegging filmmaker sitting in front of her. She wondered what to do, write off the concert or take action? Hoping that he wasn’t some sort of nutcase, she took action.

“Excuse me, sir, your camera and its light are distracting and blocking my view.” He turned around and nodded his head as if to say, “Thanks for telling me.” He resumed filming. Yvette felt like a basket case for the rest of the performance

Continuing her cultural weekend, Yvette went to another concert on Sunday. “Between lack of buttiquette and cameras, it wasn’t a whole lot of fun,” she said.

I went to a play and had an ongoing narrative delivered throughout from a woman in the row behind me. If there was a sound effect of a train, the narrator said, “Train.” My companion missed the second half of the play because the couple in front of him couldn’t bare not to stick like glue to each other, so they locked arms and put their heads together forming a lumpy pyramid.

Going to the movies can be a trying experience too. Depending on where you go, forget about hearing the movie because the shouting from the audience will make sure of that. They give running commentary, take phone calls and supply their own laugh track when nothing’s funny. Some moviegoers are so important; they check messages and don’t give a hoot about the light their devices throw off.

I would’ve whispered something to the couple at the play. “Excuse me, these seats are really low and I can’t see.” I didn’t say anything to the lady behind me because I realized she was sitting with her grandchildren, hence, all the clarifications. I’d stay away from the loud bunch, their actions are already telling you how they’re going to react to your requests.

Enjoy the show, as much as you can.


Our friend’s birthday party was fabulous. Gifts and flowers were delivered before hand and we suspect afterwards too. Some guests brought presents and discreetly hid them in the foyer to be discovered later by our friend who was delightfully surprised.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The No Gift Request, Part One: Ignore it or respect it?

A couple of weeks ago, a very elegant, engraved invitation arrived for a special birthday celebration. There was an email address and phone number for RSVP’s and also a request, “No Gifts Please”.

We are going to that party this evening and we are sure that there will be gifts. Many don’t believe in walking into a birthday party empty handed. It’s a show of gratitude and friendship and who doesn’t like a present? They believe that deep down inside the person who asked for no gifts really wants gifts.

The request should be respected for a number of reasons. A lack of space for another book or knick-knack is one. An article of clothing can end up being more of a hassle than a gift, especially if it doesn’t fit or if it’s just plain wrong. You’re sending the person who didn’t want a gift shopping for an exchange. What if they hate shopping or don’t have the time?

Also, consider those who won’t be arriving with presents in hand. There’s nothing more uncomfortable than a few guests arriving together and some are empty handed while others are holding small gift bags or nicely wrapped boxes. To say the least, it’s an awkward moment caused by, we believe, the gift bearers. Each is looking and the other wondering if they’ve done the right thing no matter what the invitation said. If coming without something makes you feel like a lesser person, why not send a bottle of champagne before the party or after with a note?

We will report next week on the presence of presents at this party. What’s your guess? Do you honor no gift requests?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Heard Any Good Apologies Lately?

In the past week, we’ve seen three displays of egregious behavior on television and not one of the offenders offered what we call a ‘clean apology’. They were big on excuses and double talk but not one stepped up to the plate immediately and apologized for their behavior. Their handlers did it for them, tweaking and re-tweaking stiff, souless statements.

Since most of us don’t have handlers and official websites, we're responsible for making our own apologies. It’s really easy and won’t cost a fortune. Just say, “I’m sorry.” Keep your “but” out of it. Once you’ve added that word, you’ve sleazily taken back the apology. You can do it by phone, a note or if you can, in person. Don’t be a coward and apologize to voicemail, keep calling until you reach the person.

If you’re on the receiving end of the apology, accept it; don’t beat down the apologist by rehashing. Simply thank them, or else, you’ll be sorry.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Yvette marveled when I told her that I more than survived a vacation in one house with 7 adults and one eight year old child. “I couldn't do it,” she said. “I don't need to be with someone who can't talk before they've had their coffee, or an incessant talker, please, I can go on and on.”

I explained to her that when you're with a group of civil, mature people, nice things happen.

  • Men put toilet seats down. (One even vacuumed after deciding that the housekeeper didn't get the job done.)

  • There was a team effort in the kitchen assembling meals and one woman cleaned up to perfection each time willingly.

  • Housemates didn't come running into the house waving flimsy supermarket receipts for a loaf of bread or a stick of butter. We all contributed on our own and since no one's eyes were rolling; I assume it worked out for everyone's vacation budget.

  • The child's mother would send him back to the bathroom to wash his hands; this was refreshing and important since he was digging into bags of cookies and chips we were all sharing. She also didn't let him dominate the television; we were able to watch Meet the Press guilt-free.

  • There were three couples and thin walls but no one lost sleep when others weren't sleeping. That's civility for you.

And that's how it was in one house on Martha's Vineyard for one week. I think Yvette could've done it.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Whatever you do, no double dipping!