Dear Miss Manners: I am a 15-year-old aspiring actor with a reasonable amount of talent. I have invested a lot of time and hard work over the past seven or eight years, and I've done quite well. My parents have been wonderfully supportive, both encouraging and sympathetic, but they've always made it clear that my participation in productions is a privilege. I know that if my grades fall, my room becomes a disaster or I choose to ignore the proper way to behave, which I've been so carefully taught, I'll have to take time off from my practice to "catch up" on these things.
My high school productions are fun, but I'd like to broaden my horizons. Acting is such a hard business, I'd like all the experience I can get.The problem is that all of the local theatrical groups are headquartered at least thirty-five miles away. My parents both work outside the home, and I'm sure they have better things to do with their copious free time than chauffeuring me into town nightly and then waiting to take me back home. I cannot drive, and I know no one in this immediate area who belongs to one of these groups.
I need to know how I can politely ask them to allow me to join one of these groups, while showing that I can earn the privilege of being taken back and forth. I have quite a convincing case for how it will benefit me, but I need to show that I can do something to make up for their trouble, making a reasonably fair exchange.
Gentle Reader: By the time she finished reading your letter, Miss Manners had her car keys out. And it isn't the first time she has fallen for a young person with your serious approach to both life and art.
She is also charmed by your parents, for having successfully taught you that school work is your primary business and that proper behavior is a lifetime requirement - so neither may be neglected for your other interests. By continuing to demonstrate your acquiescence, you have done more for them than you perhaps realize.
All you need to do in addition is to tell them that Miss Manners promises they will have a lot of very pleasant and quiet reading time, because the good stage parent needn't - probably shouldn't - keep too critical an eye on the rehearsal. Oh, and promise that when you win a Tony, the first words out of your mouth will be, "I owe it all to my dear parents."
Dear Miss Manners: My boyfriend and I have different opinions when it comes to what is "done" and "not done," most recently whether leaving one's underwear on the floor is rude or perfectly acceptable.
I think it would be embarrassing for someone to walk in my room and see that intimate article of clothing strewn across the room. My boyfriend doesn't see what the big deal is.
I want to also add that he leaves practically everything else lying around, too - cigarettes, food, half-empty glasses, and "half-clean" clothes. Do I just have, as he claims, a silly social hang-up?
Gentle Reader: Apparently you have several:
You are under the odd impression that a well-kept house is better than a slovenly one. You think guests might not enjoy being forced to look at their hosts' underwear. You think you should have some say in how you live.
Miss Manners can understand that love is a powerful force, and induces people to live with those whose personal habits are not as nice as their own. But how anyone could bear to live with a person who strews around that meaningless but vaguely insulting word "hang-up" to describe civilized living and/or your particular preferences, she cannot understand.