When is it "too late" to send a thank you card?
When the person who was generous to you is dead, and you have to live with the knowledge of your ingratitude.
I took my neighbor, a well-brought-up young man who recently moved here from a small town to attend college, to his first opera, "La Traviata."
During the first act, the couple in front of us discussed each duet, the costumes, and almost everything else. I tried your patented Miss Manners glare, but as they were in front of us, it had little effect. I tried a subtle "harrumph." Then a little bit less discreet throat-clearing. Nothing worked.
In desperation, just before the curtain was to rise on the second act, I turned to my guest and -- in a voice loud enough to carry to the front row -- said, "I can't believe some people are so rude as to speak during the performance. I am glad to see your parents taught you how to behave at a performance."
I then winked and nodded to the folks in front of us. He caught my meaning.
At the end of the second act, the loud man in front stood, turned around, and began to berate me for implying that he and his wife were misbehaving.
He become so nasty and belligerent, I roused myself from my dumbstruck silence and interrupted his rant by telling him to sit down and remain quiet or I would call an usher.
The man responded by grabbing my throat. Fortunately, my guest was quickly able to intervene and the man was removed.
These days, I realize people shout to actors on the screen at movie theaters, and one may talk on the phone at a concert with near impunity. However, I thought opera was the last bastion of civility.
What are we to do? How can we protect our institution from this plague?
Opera, the last bastion of civility? Miss Manners, who attends alarmingly often, could have disabused you of that fantasy. This is not the first story she has heard of (attempted) murder at the opera in real life.
The original rudeness did not justify your encouraging further rudeness by denouncing these people in their and others' hearing. The time to call an usher was when he got your goat, not your throat.