Dear Annie: I had something happen this weekend and am wondering what the solution should have been and who was in the right. My friend and I flew to San Diego from Indianapolis for a fabulous concert featuring three great bands. We spent quite a bit for our tickets, flights, hotel, car, etc.
Unfortunately, there was a woman sitting in front of us who stood the entire time (except for maybe the last 30 minutes -- probably because she was so drunk). She danced and flailed about. She was blocking three people's view. The concert was 5 1/2 hours long.
After the last band had played a couple of songs, I tapped her on the back and patiently said, "You probably don't realize it, but when you stand up, you are blocking three people's view." She said, "Too bad." I said, "We spent a lot of money on these seats and would like to be able to use them." She said, "So did I." I said, "We flew halfway across the country for this." She said, "So did I, and I'll stand up if I want to. I don't care if you all can see or not. Not my problem." There were no ushers around to help. I was amazed someone could be so inconsiderate.
Should we all have had to stand up the whole time? I didn't think that would have been fair to the people behind us. This concert was attended by mainly "older people," baby boomers. What do you think? Is it OK to stand the whole time for a concert? -- Baffled and Hurt
Dear Baffled: The short answer is that it depends. The long answer involves considering a few factors. First is the type of music. It would be bizarre to stand at a symphony, but it would be almost as odd to sit for a DJ playing dance music.
Second is the seating arrangements. If seats aren't assigned and people are free to move around, obstructing someone's view by standing might still be rude, but it's not the slap in the face it would be if the person were stuck there.
Third (and most important) is what the people around you are doing. If most of your neighbors are standing, stand (or sit, but don't spend all night glowering about it); if most of them are sitting, sit. Attending a concert is a social experience, and sometimes you just have to go along to get along. The best audience members, like the best performers, know how to read a room.
Dear Annie: I can relate to "Love Is the Answer," who does not want to visit loved ones when they are in pain or dying. I have a very strong visual and auditory memory. I can describe my elementary classrooms and classmates of 50-plus years ago in great detail, right down to the bulletin boards the teacher put up and who mispronounced "synonym" as "cinnamon." And while I remember many happy times with my parents, the memories of their physical declines and the sounds of their final breaths are painfully clear, as well.
I've been accused of sheltering myself too much for avoiding experiences that I feel would be too intense. The truth is, visual and auditory memories stay with me forever, so I need to protect myself when I can. Others may see it as refusing to face reality, but it is actually mental self-preservation. -- Out of Sight but Never Out of Mind
Dear Out of Sight: I was unaware that some people have such intense sensory memories. Thanks for adding even more depth to this conversation.
"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 firstname.lastname@example.org.