Dear Annie: My companion and I recently went to a very popular play that had no intermission. We were sitting in the first row of the balcony seats, and there was a short wooden wall in front of us to keep things from falling over the edge. But the result was that there was no room to move my feet and legs. In fact, my knees were pressed into this wall, causing great pain because I have arthritis and sciatica.
To make matters worse, the woman sitting on the other side of my friend had uncontrollable flatulence that was smelly and disgusting. My companion tried to lean away, into me or over the balcony, but could not escape the smell. I could smell it, too, but was far enough away that it was milder. My companion finally couldn't take it anymore, and we had to leave halfway through the performance.
The expensive show was sold out, so we could not change seats. These balcony seats were as expensive as the ones downstairs.
Flatulence is a very embarrassing topic to talk to anyone about, so we didn't search for an usher. When we got out, we wondered whether we should buy antacids and bring them back to everyone who was seated in that area. I'm thinking of asking for my money back. — Stuck in a Seat
Dear Stuck in a Seat: That stinks! Passing gas in public is to be avoided, especially when we are seated in confined quarters, such as at live performances or on airplanes. One suggestion would be to politely ask people who are passing gas to excuse themselves and go to the nearest restroom. The hope is that their awareness that you smell their unpleasant odor is enough to put an end to it. If not, you can complain to the theater or the flight attendant or whoever the appropriate person is. As for the discomfort you felt in the seats, you could relay your experience to the theater's management. A manager might have suggestions for how to make it up to you.
Dear Annie: My co-worker recently mentioned to me that his wife attended her friend's wedding alone because the invitation didn't allow a guest. The same was apparently true for other invitees. Regardless of whether my co-worker had any interest in attending, I thought it tacky to exclude guests. If the newlyweds' goal was to save money, wouldn't proper etiquette call for inviting fewer people so that everyone invited could bring a guest? Furthermore, isn't the whole point of a wedding to share the experience with friends and family and, by extension, their loved ones? Maybe wedding etiquette has changed since I got married 12 years ago. — Just Wondering in Wisconsin
Dear Wondering: Wedding etiquette has not changed over the past 12 years. Proper wedding etiquette states that spouses, fiancees, fiances and live-in partners should be invited as guests even if the bride and groom have never met them. I'm hoping that this was an unintentional oversight on the part of his wife's friend. If not, then it was more than tacky; it was downright rude. One of my favorite quotations about rudeness is from Eric Hoffer: "Rudeness is the weak man's imitation of strength."
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]