In the bad old days, Casper Milquetoast had nothing on me.  I was a complete doormat, being nice to everyone and expecting everyone to be nice back.  When they weren’t, I was shocked, SHOCKED I tell you, and became stunned into selective mutism.  I did not know what to do when people would react in ways that I could not imagine behaving, exhibiting blatant rudeness in manner and word. 

Somewhere along the years, I developed a spine, and since that point, I have no longer been stunned by rudeness, and will no longer stand mute when I see people behaving badly, or infringing on my rights or those of others.  This changeover took a little while to perfect, in the same way that a pendulum kept too long to one side will swing wildly to the other until it settles down to a middle position.  So, at first, I was a little, shall we say “robust”, in my defense of what is right.  This was easily tempered by the reactions of friends and family who soon put me right, and explained that my protestations were out of proportion to the offense.  Okay, gotcha.

Nowadays, I start off assuming that the offending person had no idea that they were being offensive, and that it was an easily corrected oversight.  “Excuse me, but I was already in line ahead of you.”   “I’m sorry ladies, but could you possibly lower your voices during the presentation?  Your voices are carrying forward.”  “Excuse me, but would you mind asking your child to stop kicking my seat?  Thanks so much.”  My expectation of a courteous reply shows in my tone of voice, and the response is generally a polite apology and a cessation of the problem.  I’m not an unreasonable person (quiet, Davin), and don’t look for problems. But I will not grin and bear it if someone is doing something that needs to stop.

This is something that most of my friends are finally used to, but for people who avoid confrontation at all costs, like I used to, I imagine this costs them a few moments of discomfort.  But I ask you, dear reader:  Would you rather seethe with anger during an entire live show because the person behind you was holding a long, very loud conversation during the entire show, or would you turn around and politely ask them to keep it down, and perhaps endure a few moments of them glowering at the back of your head?  It’s uncomfortable for me too, being distracted and wondering what possible retribution I might receive from the offending person, but I will NOT sit and listen to some yenta run her jaws over the latest thing her kids are doing and the last recipe she tried and the problems with her gall bladder and the latest offense from her sister-in-law and the trouble she had buying the tickets for the show, etc. etc. ad nauseum during the performance.

Here’s a helpful guide:

Appropriate places for the above conversation to be held, using moderate volume:

·         Coffee shop

·         Neighborhood bar

·         Park bench

·         Your own living room



Inappropriate places for the above conversation, at the top of your voice:

·         Anywhere that people pay top dollar to listen to something other than your annoying voice

·         In the quiet car of a train

·         During a speech, religious ceremony, child’s recital – basically anything where you are supposed to be listening and allowing others to listen as well.



Why is this a difficult concept?  I have spent several difficult evenings trying to figure the balance between being a reasonable person asking people to control their egos and shut up during a show, versus making my friends uncomfortable at the prospect of a confrontation with an audience member.  Nearly 100%, I must warn my friends, I am going to say something.  Very politely – at first. 

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