Back in October, the Broadway-blogging community was peeing on itself with laughter over a Frequently Asked Questions page from the play Lombardi. Evidently, the producers felt that they would be attracting a different sort of patron to the theater - one who didn't know the basics of theater behavior - and so included helpful tidbits of advice such as:
What is expected of me once the curtain goes up? Please don’t talk! The actors will be performing live for you. It’s important that you listen very well so that you don’t miss anything and so that you don’t disturb others around you. Let the actors know that you appreciate the show: Laugh at the funny parts, applaud when you like something, but remember to respond respectfully and appropriately. The actors are right in front of you and their performance will be affected by your reactions.
People particularly latched on to the quote "laugh at the funny parts," as though this were something that people would not do unless so instructed. Well, as bizarre and kindergarten-teacher-like as this is, I can pretty much understand where the FAQ authors are coming from. Sometimes I want to be told that I can "laugh at the funny parts." You see, I have a severe case of protocolphobia, defined as the paralyzing fear of being in a situation in which I don't know how to behave, where there is a high chance of someone thinking poorly of me or, even, (heaven forfend) looking sternly at me. I imagine I'm not the only one.
There are lots of situations where a FAQ could come in handy. I often feel like I would appreciate having a big sign explaining exactly what it is I'm supposed to be doing. Like rotaries, for example, which are somewhat terrifying to those of us who grew up in places where roads go in straight lines:
ROTARY FAQ: Welcome to a New England-style rotary! You poor fool!
How do I enter the rotary? It's customary to wait for a gap vaguely large enough to contain your vehicle, but it is not mandatory. When entering, it is considered best practice to floor your accelerator while screaming like one or more samurais charging into battle.
How many lanes are there in the rotary? As many as you need there to be!
How do I get out of the rotary? Technically you have the right of way when you are on the rotary, but no one else knows or cares. So trust me, your life will go much more smoothly if you just accept that you will not be getting out of the rotary for some time. Why don't you listen to some nice Enya while you wait for the traffic to move?
Where does this rotary take me? All exits lead to Route 3 south.
What if I don't want to get on Route 3 south? Tough noogies.
I imagine that folks checking around a church website (like this one) might want to know what to expect, in case they, too, suffer from protocolphobia. But would you want to be told to "laugh at the funny parts?"* What do you think?
* Me singing "May the Lord Bless You and Keep You"