How to Take a Pie in the Face, Vol. 16, Issue 10

Once again, Etiquetteer is proud to support the MIT 24-Hour Challenge on Pi Day in 2019!

Certainly Etiquetteer has covered some Matters of Manners that haven't been covered by other writers, like what to wear to a "protest chic" wedding, the etiquette of activism, Straw Hat Day, and how to decline a marriage proposal in public. On Pi Day, March 14, it's timely to talk about how to take a pie in the face with Perfect Propriety. Life is challenging enough without being pelted by Deliberately Aimed Pastry while going about one’s business.

The pie in the face is as American as . . . well, Etiquetteer bets you were thinking "apple pie," but Etiquetteer was going to say basketball, because they were both invented in America. In the famous Keystone Comedies produced by Mack Sennett, an actor named Ben Turpin took the first pie in the face. Alas, there's some dispute about in just which film this took place. The 1909 comedy of sexual harassment Mr. Flip certainly shows Turpin taking a dark berry pie in the face at a lunch counter. Skip past all that sexual harassment to 03:34 to see the pieing.

Politically, the most famous pie in the face remains the Unforgettable Pieing of Anita Bryant in 1977. Ms. Bryant at first maintained her composure enough to quip tartly that "Well, at least it's a fruit pie" before dissolving in prayer and tears.

And maintaining one's composure is the most important aspect of what is really an Unexpected Assault. Should you suddenly find yourself Blinded by Pie, the very first thing to do is to follow the advice of Ellen Maury Slayden: "Keep cool; this is a test of breeding." Poor dear Mrs. Slayden never had to deal with a pie in the face, but she did have to deal with putting menthol in her eyes once by mistake, and that was torture enough.

Next, restore your vision by wiping your eyes clear. Use that Nice Clean Handkerchief that of course you have with you - ahem - but you may have to resort to your bare hands if the volume of pie is too great. Once your vision is restored, establish whether or not you're Under Attack. If so, Etiquetteer will allow your Fight or Flight mechanism to take control. If not, proceed to the nearest bathroom to clean up, and then directly home for fresh clothing.

Etiquetteer imagines it might be tempting to eat some of that pie, but having been attacked with it, you have no reason to believe that its ingredients are friendly*. Use caution. Showing too much enthusiasm for a delicious pie that has been thrown in your face could also create an impression of Gluttony.

Of course Etiquetteer hopes you never need this advice, but it's reassuring, isn't it, to know what to do just in case.

*Etiquetteer is certainly not going to refer to that scene from The Help.