Dear Amy: During a recent dinner at a neighborhood restaurant/pub, four people at one table near us were having a very lively conversation. They were loud enough that nearby diners heard their conversation, whether we cared to or not.
One person did much of the talking, with his companions chiming in from time to time. The primary speaker was apparently very earnest, or passionate, or a bit limited in his vocabulary: most of his sentences included an F-bomb dropped as an all-purpose substitute for just about any adjective or adverb.
As this continued for more than 20 minutes, I became frustrated that their conversation had become an intrusion on the conversation at our own table.
When I asked my dining companions if I should gently ask the primary speaker to please lower his volume and suggest that he lighten up on the profanity, their reply was, "Absolutely not -- it's not your place."
Was I out of line to be frustrated by the primary speaker's language? Would your answer be different if children had been within earshot? (Not the case this time, as far as I could tell, although they very easily could have been.)
If he was being inconsiderate of his fellow diners, what would have been the proper course to attempt to rectify the situation?
-- Distracted Diner
Dear Distracted: Of course you were frustrated by these other diners! Restaurants overall seem to have become very loud environments, but sometimes one person's voice and language cuts through the din.
All the same, I don't think it's a good idea to directly interact with disruptive and foul-mouthed people. There are simply too many unknown factors to do this safely, including consumption of the great idiot-magnifier: alcohol. Intervening would also basically end your party's overall enjoyment completely, because now the evening would be all about this episode.
In this situation, you could speak to your wait staff and/or the manager. They would also not likely intervene directly (unless the disruption had become dangerous), but they might offer to change your table and/or comp your drinks or dessert.
Dear Amy: I'm in high school. Today I discovered that my dad has cheated -- or is still cheating -- on my mom.
The way I found out is that my dad backs up his phone to my computer.
I opened my computer to print out a paper for my homework, only to discover a text coming through the computer (my dad's phone sent the messages to both the phone and my computer). After reading what the text said ... well, it was very leading, and I got worried. I opened up his other text messages, and as I scrolled through the messages it was very obvious that my dad had been/or still is (I'm unsure) messing around with another woman. I took screenshots of some of the messages for evidence.
I love both of my parents and am very unsure about what to do about this.
I don't know if it's still going on, and if I should tell someone.
I was thinking about telling my grandmother so I don't have to be in the middle of what might go down.
-- A Troubled Teen
Dear Troubled: I'm so sorry you are having this experience. It sounds so difficult.
If you think your grandmother is the safest, calmest and most compassionate person to tell, then yes -- tell her. How do you think she will handle it? Will she remain calm and speak to your parents about it, in order to take the burden off of you? If so, then she would be the right person.
Otherwise, you might say to your father, "You know, when you link your phone to my computer, I can see all of your text messages." But no, I do not think you should confront both of your parents with this newfound knowledge.
This is a big burden for you to carry. Understand that adults go through all sorts of phases, just like kids do -- and they make mistakes -- just like kids do.
Dear Amy: Someone signing her question "Demi" reported that she is a "demisexual." What the heck? Why have all of these new sexual terms cropped up recently?
Dear Confused: There is a growing awareness that sexuality and gender occur across a spectrum. Just as the Inuit and Yupik people seem to have 50 different words for "snow," we live in a society where personal identification is important. And so we are trying to name and describe the particulars.