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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Tread carefully asking for help from married man

Judith Martin, United Feature Syndicate

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been friends with a fellow for several years, even before he was married. My husband and I have recently divorced, and I now find myself in need of guy help on occasion.

Is it proper for me to contact him directly to ask his help, or do I need to contact his wife? We have not been really close since his marriage, and so I do not know the wife very well.

GENTLE READER: Nor are you likely to using the tactics you suggest.

Miss Manners has always considered it outrageous that divorcees are often automatically assumed to be predators. And she is not suspicious of every friendship between ladies and gentlemen.

But do you seriously imagine that the following is a reasonable scenario?

Husband: I’ll be out this afternoon – an old friend needs my help.

Wife: Really, dear, who’s that?

Husband: Prudence Priestly. You don’t know her – I haven’t really seen her since we were married.

Wife: And she’s inviting us over?

Husband: No, just me. She just got divorced and wants me to go over occasionally. She didn’t exactly say what for, but she said guy things.

Wife: Oh, sure. Have fun.

Miss Manners rather doubts it. If you want to resume your friendship with the husband, you make friends with the wife. But it has to become a very warm and reciprocal friendship before you ask anyone to do your chores when he should probably be doing his own.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My friend and I scored some tickets off eBay for the Michael Jackson Memorial Concert. It cost a lot of money, but we heard it was the place to be. Two etiquette issues came up, and we hope you’ll resolve them.

We liked the first performance a lot, and started clapping. Then my friend started yelling, “Encore!” Now personally, I didn’t think it was proper to do this at a memorial service. Who knows if the singer even had time to prepare a second song?

But later, a guy came out who was obviously just phoning it in. I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy was lip-syncing. So I started boo-ing. I paid good money for this and felt I deserved better. Now my friend shushed me, saying it wasn’t polite to boo at a memorial service. I think she was just trying to get even with me for earlier.

GENTLE READER: Some manners debate that was. You shushed her for yelling for an encore, which you think she resented, and then you yelled boos and resented her shushing you.

At memorial services, no reaction should be made, not even clapping, as the music is intended to honor the dead, not to amuse an audience. At a paid performance, a range of reactions is permitted.

As this was a hybrid event, you could have chosen to go by either rule. But since you each violated the principles you stated, Miss Manners will thank you both to get out of the etiquette business.

Readers may write to Miss Manners at MissManners@ unitedmedia.com.
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