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SECLUDED, WOODED TRAIL ALIVE WITH THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Q: I have, for some years, been hiking a relatively secluded, wooded trail that hugs the side of a canyon where I can enjoy the peace, tranquility and gentle sounds of nature.

Recently, the setting has been altered by a man who has chosen to practice bagpipes near the head of the trail. The acoustics of the land are such that sound carries for great distances, and even well into my walk I can still hear him.

As a devoted amateur musician and lover of most music, including bagpipes, and with sensitive hearing, I find myself dismayed that the aesthetics of this natural setting have been altered. I might add that the player does not seem to play songs, but rather tends to improvise and noodle along.

While this may not rival the intrusiveness of booming car stereo music that rattles one's windows and internal organs, I still find it incompatible with this hitherto tranquil place.

Am I incorrect in questioning the player's judgment in choosing this venue, and, if not, is there a polite way of communicating with him?

A: Have you no pity for the desperate person who said, "If you must play that thing, will you at least take it outdoors, where it won't drive a body crazy?"

Oh, wait. It drives you crazy.

And yet you say you are a lover of even bagpipe music. How are you going to have any if the musicians have no place to practice?

No, not Miss Manners' front porch. But thanks, just the same.

She suggests that you track down the musician, compliment the playing, and then ask when he practices. Then see if you can work out a compromise about who is in the woods when. It will be easier if you say you would enjoy hearing him perform some time but need the quiet walks to clear your head.

Simple 'thank you' should stop unnecessary comments

Q: I am in my early 20s and have been married for four months to a man of similar age. When we announced our wedding, we received several comments of the "What are you doing, you are too young" variety, including several friends and family members who told us we had no idea what we were getting into.

Even now, post-wedding, we are still getting intrusive comments from friends (the family fortunately has calmed down) telling us that we should have waited longer. One of his friends was so bold as to tell him she didn't believe he was truly in love, but simply "playing house."

We were very offended by this. Frankly, I am tired of having to explain myself over and over to people. I got married because I want to build a life with him and I love him dearly. Is this really anyone else's business? Do we really owe other people explanations?

A: Certainly not. But you should smile and say, "Thank you, we feel very lucky." The "thank you" should throw them, but if anyone persists with negative comments, you could add compassionately, "Actually, we're very happy. I'm so sorry you're not."

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