Three Etiquette Books, Vol. 4, Issue 35

OK, it’s True Confessions Time for Etiquetteer: Etiquetteer just loves Ebay. And in the last little while Etiquetteer has picked up quite a few unusual little etiquette books – some serious, some humorous – for different niches of American society. Etiquetteer thought you might be interested in some of these titles:COWBOY ETIQUETTE, by Texas Bix Bender (2003): Essentially a book of one-liners, Cowboy Etiquette captures kernels of truth and common sense in an ostentatiously "aw-shucks" homespun manner. But there’s advice for almost every situation, from "When served escargot, pour salt on it and forget it. It will melt while you wait for the next course" and "When you’re standing in line, and it’s a long one, take it like a man" to "Aftershave is not a marinade" and "If you have to tell someone you’re just kiddin’, maybe yer not."Cowboy Etiquette also includes an old-fashioned flip book cartoon of a rude cowboy dining with a lady that demonstrates most of the "don’ts" of cowboy manners.THE POT SMOKER’S HANDBOOK TO ETIQUETTE, by C.L. Cory (1983): Etiquetteer has always said that good manners are needed in every situation, and yet how to interact with your dealer and how to pass a joint never even entered Etiquetteer’s mind or mailbox. Crudely illustrated by Mike Price (possibly while stoned), The Pot Smoker’s Handbook to Etiquette came from the author’s observation that "The habits and traditions that have crept up the social ladder with the availability to obtain and make use of drugs, are to say the least, unpolished." Chapters of this "strictly fictional and . . . simply designed to entertain" paperback will guide the reader in Proper Purchasing Techniques, how to smoke ("Don’t eat the roach unless hungry"), and how to be the perfect guest or host.Etiquetteer was most amused by the issue of munchies, apparently an essential component in gatherings of smokers. Guests are instructed never to ask for refreshments, but only to suggest sending out for Chinese food. Hosts are instructed to use the Chinese food hints as their cue to bring out munchies, which they should prepare ahead of time. Etiquetteer thinks that the Pot Smoker’s Chinese Food Euphemism is darn near worthy of Edith Wharton Herself when it comes to the language of indirection.SYDNEY BIDDLE BARROWS MAYFLOWER MANNERS: ETIQUETTE FOR CONSENTING ADULTS, by Sydney Biddle Barrows and Ellis Weiner (1990): Here’s another book full of Perfect Propriety for Sordid Circumstances, this one directly from the Mayflower Madam Herself, Sydney Biddle Barrows. Among other things, the authors offer sage advice on how to engage an escort, correct your partner’s hygiene, decline an invitation to perform an act you aren’t comfortable with, and converse with someone you met through a dating service.The book is peppered with amusing footnotes as well as killingly funny charts contrasting old and new manners; "Curbside Comments: Suggested Good Manners for Construction Workers and Their Targets" will leave you howling. The authors treat their subject with a wit and style similar to Etiquetteer’s own; what a pity Etiquetteer isn’t modest enough not to mention it . . .What’s cute about all this is that Mayflower Mannerswas published before the Internet revolutionized dating and its attendant services. Indeed, personal answering machines were just making the scene then. References to yuppies, Filofaxes, and the "Ms. vs. Mrs." debate brought Etiquetteer back to the good parts of the 1980s.

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