Introductions and Smoking, Vol. 8, Issue 11

Dear Etiquetteer: Please advise the correct way to introduce a mentor to a friend or a spouse. Who gets introduced first, especially if you want to pay a significant honor to one of the people?

Dear Mentored:

One of the few areas where precedence or rank matter any more, the formula for introductions is really very easy to handle: less important people are introduced to more important people. So:

  • Junior employees are introduced to senior employees.
  • Young people are introduced to older people.
  • Congregants are introduced to the minister.
  • Gentlemen are introduced to ladies.
  • Everyone is introduced to an internationally recognized diva (e.g. Renée Fleming, Bette Midler, but not that snobbish woman in Accounts Payable who just behaves like a diva.)*
  • Everyone, including internationally recognized divas, is introduced to world leaders.
The key difference is how you craft the Phrase of Introduction, either "introduce you to" or "introduce to you." In your case, your mentor is due more honor, so you introduce him/her to your spouse: "Dr. Obtuse, I would like to introduce to you my spouse, Pat Mentored." In the same situation, if you were speaking to your spouse, you'd say, "Pat, I'd like to introduce you to Dr. Obtuse, an important mentor for me in college." Since it's dangerous to assume that married couples share a last name now, you would be more Perfectly Proper to include your spouse's last name in that last sentence.
Dear Etiquetteer:
This isn't really a question, but perhaps you can make me feel better and less angry.  I am in a consistent state of wonderment over why it seems socially acceptable for smokers to litter with their cigarette butts.  If I ate a candy bar and then just dropped the wrapper on the sidewalk or someone's lawn, my companion would be horrified (and justifiably so).  But cigarette butts seem to not count as littering.  I have seen people of all ages, genders and races commit this.  I have even been behind a police cruiser and seen the officer throw a cigarette butt out his window.  When I asked a good friend who had just done this why he thought it was OK, he had no answer, but admitted that he will probably continue to do so.  Any thoughts?
Dear Butted:
Etiquetteer deplores this habit, too, but especially at the beach. Few things can bring down one's beach experience more than finding out you've spread your towel over a nicotine graveyard. Just because one can bury one's butt in the sand doesn't mean it can't be uncovered later.
The only answer Etiquetteer can give to your query is that this custom ensures, believe it or not, public safety. Your theoretical candy wrapper was not on fire before you threw it away, and a carelessly disposed cigarette butt could start a fire in a trashcan. (Indeed, many years ago Etiquetteer had to put out just such a fire.) Etiquetteer has seen many a careless smoker drop his or her flaming butt unconcernedly on the sidewalk without even troubling to grind it out underfoot, but also knows some Perfectly Proper smokers who take the trouble to extinguish their cigarettes completely before throwing them away in a receptacle.
Etiquetteer makes no secret of preferring a non-smoking environment. Having worked one summer in an office the size of a large dining room table with two chain smokers deprived Etiquetteer of any tolerance for cigarette smoke. And yet Etiquetteer cannot help but deplore the near criminalization of smoking and the almost complete expulsion of smokers from interior spaces. From the days when etiquette writer Lillian Eichler recommended placing a container with three cigarettes between every two diners at a formal dinner party, Society has now condemned smokers to sidewalks. Where possible, Etiquetteer would like to see the return of the smoking room, or at least a dedicated interior space for smokers.
Write Etiquetteer today with your own etiquette queries at queries_at_etiquetteer_dot_com!