From the Daily Life of Etiquetteer, Vol. 17, Issue 21

As you know, Etiquetteer is awfully fond of quoting Ellen Maury Slayden's "This is a test of breeding. Keep cool." Because one never knows when one's breeding will be tested. Last night Etiquetteer passed the test, and will share the story here not out of a sense of braggadoccio, but to illustrate how important it is to keep calm and to keep quiet.*

Each year Etiquetteer enjoys serving as master of ceremonies at the annual benefit reception for the Gibson House Museum, and last night's discreetly glittering occasion was no exception. About ten minutes before the program was to begin, Etiquetteer passed by a lady who inadvertently jostled an elbow, as often happens at a cocktail party. Alas, that jostled a quantity of delicious cabernet down Etiquetteer's shirtfront. 'Twas not so deep as a well nor as wide as a church door, but it was enough to be seen by anyone at the back of a ballroom looking at someone behind a podium. Etiquetteer has been the schlemiel before (years ago there was a horrifying encounter between Etiquetteer's merlot and the ice-blue satin pantsuit of a Lady of Unquestioned Magnitude - at least Etiquetteer no longer wakes up screaming), but was now cast in the role of schlemazel.

"This is a test of breeding. Keep cool." Anyone who's ever had red wine spilled on them knows that Time means something in preventing Lasting Damage. The quicker the stain can be attended to, the better chance it will come out completely. Etiquetteer was able to step quietly into the restroom to get to work with some durable paper towels. The result: no red wine stain and a quickly evaporating area of water, much of which could be obscured by buttoning a few more jacket buttons.

But the proof of success was that no one noticed. And that's the key. No one noticed because attention was not called to it; a scene was not made. Etiquetteer hopes you'll never need this knowledge - good wine should be sipped, not spilled - but wishes you well should your breeding be tested at some party in the future.

*Unless in case of a medical emergency. Then some attention must be commanded!