At Random, Vol. 13, Issue 6

Now that the milestone of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has passed, Etiquetteer certainly hopes that you've finished all your Lovely Notes of Thanks from all the gifts and invitations you received. And Etiquetteer hopes you've received a sheaf of them in return for the gifts and entertainment you shared.

In bleak and bare January, it is pleasant to think of the spring to come and the blossoms that will appear in one's garden. So it's also helpful to remember that Oscar Wilde made the green carnation popular in his day. Gentlemen who wore a green carnation were instantly recognizable as "men of the Wilde sort," which made introductions of the like-minded so much safer and convenient. Remember this next St. Patrick's Day, now less than two months away.

Etiquetteer is getting mighty tired of people who do not understand that in this country, on escalators we stand on the right and pass on the left, and we certainly do not stand next to each other talking and blocking the way for others to pass us. Stop it at once!

Many people find it difficult to feel Perfectly Proper in subzero temperatures for the simple reasons that a) they're extremely cold and b) bulky winter wear obstructs movement, and sometimes vision as well. We can't all be Omar Sharif and Julie Christie in Doctor Zhivago, more's the pity - PETA would be after their fur coats with their paintball guns in a flash - but concentrating on Perfect Posture can help transport us to a nice warm drawing room in our minds.

A Brief Post-Election Message from Etiquetteer, Vol. 11, Issue 17

Etiquetteer calls on all Americans to be gracious in victory or defeat now that this election cycle has concluded. Gloating, taunting, whining, threatening, and name-calling do nothing to forward the United States, or to heal the viciously polarized political rift. Perfect Propriety has its place in reuniting a divided citizenry.

Handy One-Liners, Vol. 6, Issue 27

Sometimes it’s best just to let etiquette speak for itself commonsensically:

  • Hang up and drive.
  • Shut up and eat.
  • If you’re gonna go, go.*
  • Never ask why you weren’t invited; you might find out.
  • Never ask why someone didn’t show up; you might find out.
  • R.s.v.p. now; you won’t get a better offer.
  • If you don’t know what to wear, ask the hosts. If they say "Oh, anything" ask what they’re wearing.
  • Nobody wants to see your underwear outside the bedroom. And maybe not even there . . .
  • For handkerchiefs, carry one to show and one to blow.
  • For jewelry, put on everything you think is right and take one piece off. Too bad this can’t be done with piercings and tattoos.
  • For Maximum Fun Potential, arrive on time. This fashionable lateness stuff is a pain.
  • Don’t start eating until the hostess lifts her fork.
  • If you’re allergic, don’t eat it.
  • If you’re not allergic, shut up and eat.
  • One more drink and you’ll be under the host.**
  • Send the thank-you note the next day.
  • Unless you’re the bride, don’t wear white or ivory or "champagne" to the wedding.
  • Unless it’s a tuxedo, don’t wear black to the wedding.
  • Don’t bring your wedding gift to the wedding.
  • Ladies first, unless you’re going downstairs, off a bus, or through a revolving door.
  • Serve from the left, remove from the right.
  • Turn off your cell phone at the table, in the theatre, in the cinema, and in the bathroom.
  • If you’re talking on your cell phone in public, don’t get indignant when someone starts asking you questions about your phone conversation. It’s your own fault blabbing about your business on the street in the first place.
  • If you want to hang around, you’ll be polite.***
  • Don’t make trouble. On the other hand, if you’re bleeding, not saying anything will make trouble.
  • There’s no place for your PDA at the table, either your Personal Digital Assistant or your Public Display of Affection.
  • It may be five o’clock somewhere, but if it’s not five o’clock here, it’s time to switch back to ginger ale.
  • A theatre is not a stadium. Keep your seat until intermission.
  • Reference to flatulence is rude. Remember, "he who smelt it dealt it."
  • All you have to say is "No thank you;" no explanation is required.
  • And of course Etiquetteer’s guiding motto: no one cares what you want or how you feel, so just be polite.

Please share your own etiquette one-liners, or any manners question you have, with Etiquetteer at query <at>!* Courtesy of great-grandmother Dougherty.** Courtesy of Dorothy Parker.*** Courtesy of Sam Spade in "The Maltese Falcon."

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