Dear Amy: My 24-year-old nephew, "Harley," is marrying his longtime girlfriend in September. I don't have children, but if I could pick one for me, it would be him.
I have been estranged from his parents for many years. His mother is my sister, and she's divorced from his father. I haven't talked to my sister in years. I did stay in touch with his dad until several years ago, when I made the mistake of calling him out on some bad parenting. He got so irate that he "released me" from his life and made it clear that I was never to contact him again.
Even though both rifts are in full force, I would still attend the wedding if it was in a neutral location. However, Harley and his fiancée will marry in his dad's backyard.
Harley is aware that his mom and I don't speak, but I don't think he knows about my rift with his dad. I'm pretty sure his dad would not want me to come to his home, even for the wedding day.
Should I tell Harley I can't attend because of the situation with his dad? (I don't want to put any strain on him.)
Or should I say nothing, go to the wedding and stay out of both parents' way, hoping that I don't get thrown out?
Amy says: It doesn't seem to have occurred to you that this provides an opportunity for you to try to mend these rifts. You don't say why you aren't speaking to your sister, but the rift with your nephew's father was admittedly your own fault. Have you ever apologized or tried to mend fences?
You should at the very least contact "Harley's" father, apologize for your behavior and say that with the passage of time, you hope that he has forgiven you. Note that you are honored to have been asked to the wedding and that you take this as an opportunity to be a supportive family member.
Yes, you should attend, and yes, you should behave. This calls for you to be low-key and cordial to everyone.
Dear Amy: Recently, I attended an HD Performance of the Metropolitan Opera at my local theater. There was a five-minute change of sets between acts.
The camera showed maintenance people changing the scenery. The lights in the movie theater were still dimmed and I took out my iPhone to check the time. A man sitting two seats down harshly yelled, "Will you turn that phone off?!"
Others in the theater were checking their phones, as this was simply a set change (but not intermission).
What is the protocol about taking a split-second glance at one's phone in this situation?
Amy says: Your neighbor's reaction seems ... operatic. All the same, by your own admission, this was not an "intermission," but a set change. (One thing I really enjoy about these opera simulcasts is the enjoyment of watching how the stage hands wrangle the enormous sets. It's a fascinating backstage glimpse of how large productions work.)
These days, a glance at your phone is the same as glancing at your watch. However, in a darkened theater, your phone's glow will definitely distract others. And unfortunately, many glancing time checks turn into text checks, voice-mail checks, e-mail checks and quick FaceTime sessions with the grandkids. Checking the time should be fine — but not performing other functions.
Also understand that opera lovers aren't like moviegoers; they pay a premium on a special day to view an art form they love. When asking you to put your phone away, the gentleman should have gone sotto voce.
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