Miss Manners: The audience started chanting at the man who hijacked the microphone

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Do you have any advice on how to manage questions from audience members post-lecture?

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The moderator makes it clear that due to time limitations, questions should be concise. Inevitably, one or more men (always men, to date) ramble on about tenuously related issues before the moderator interrupts them and asks for their question.

This interruption does not act as a deterrent, only a chance for the person to take a breath before carrying on about Aunt Matilda’s hip replacement, Jimmy Carter’s secretary of state, etc.

I end up feeling like the event was hijacked by these rambling audience members, and I resent the fact that the program coordinators are not more effective in their roles.

Recently, an audience of about 200 people broke into a chant: “Ask your question! Ask your question!”

I realize this was a rude way to treat a fellow human being. However, we have paid a fee to listen to an expert in the field, not to someone telling personal stories and seeking attention.

GENTLE READER: It is rare that Miss Manners sees an acceptable solution that others have found rude.

True, it would be rude to issue that chanted command in most circumstances. But perhaps not this one.

It was the job of the moderator to remind the gentleman, as often as necessary, that the microphone was his only for the purpose of asking a question. Finally, he could have been told, “Thank you, but we will move on to the next person who has a question.”

Failing that, other audience members were performing the same function.

What makes the situation different from social attempts to silence bores is that this offender put himself on stage, and was therefore subject to the audience’s reaction.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 50-year-old retired American man, and I just moved to Paris with my wife and two kids.

I attend a terrific language school where I have made friends with several teachers.

We have bought an apartment, and we’re thinking of having a housewarming party. That said, I’m sensitive to the fact that my financial situation is very different than that of my classmates, and particularly that of my teachers, who are paid criminally low salaries.

Is it in poor taste to have a housewarming party knowing that my friends will not be able to afford a nice family apartment in Paris like the one we have?

GENTLE READER: Yes. If you call it a housewarming, you will seem to be expecting your guests to admire your expensive home, if not also to contribute something to it.

Miss Manners suggests that you focus on the guests, instead, making it a party to get to know them better — rather than to feature your apartment.

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Miss Manners: Can I announce my son’s graduation but not his screw-up?

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What’s the proper way to eat an olive with a pit?

At home, I pop the whole thing in my mouth, chew off the olive, then place the pit on my plate. Is that a polite way to eat it in a restaurant? Or should I hold the olive, nibble it off the pit, then place the pit on my plate?

GENTLE READER: Carry on as before. Miss Manners reminds you that an olive is not a popsicle.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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