Friday, July 13, 2007

Everyday Etiquette

Mr Smith reminded me yesterday that I had invited friends over to dine with us tonight. Oh my – true friends indeed, to know what culinary horrors await, yet accept the invitation anyway.

There is a reason why we eat out so often. After a few glasses of wine, my cooking ability flees like a frightened child from the violent wrath of an alcoholic mother. At the last dinner, the main course rudely announced its presence with the smell of burning. I panicked, turned off the oven, having forgotten about the desserts, which remained almost entirely raw.

At this point one is thankful for having a plentiful supply of good wine, as one’s guests will (hopefully) be rendered physically insensible to what is served them.

However, I found a delightful book, this week; Everyday Etiquette by Clifford Montrose (published in 1935), with advice for the success of ‘A Small Dinner Party At Home.’

In the first place, choose your guests wisely – that is, see that they are congenial. Don’t attempt to include Mr A on account of his social position when you know that there is a possibility that he may bore all others by his airs of superiority or condescension.

Absurd! If that rule were adhered to, I’d never get invited anywhere.

In a section sternly capitalised; THINGS THAT ARE NOT DONE, we have some directives that are as valid today as they were seventy-two years ago.

Loud argument is always a sign of lack of breeding.

If her escort is late for an appointment, a lady should never reprimand him in front of other people. Smile pleasantly whatever your feelings may be.

You will never make people believe that you’re a person of consequence by incessantly grumbling at, and bullying, waiters.

Persons who use a nail file or toothpick otherwise than in a dressing-room can scarcely expect to be numbered among the good-mannered.

All readers are cordially invited to add their own advice to the list.


Martha Craig said...

Don't shit where you eat, my friend.

That is the only manners I know.

Martha Craig said...

I can't talk proper when I'm on your blog. I go all tongue tied.

Anonymous said...

Treat everyone politely on your way up in society for you never know who you will meet when you are on the way down.

Robyn said...

I've never been invited to a dinner party. This may be due to be not being part of a boyfriend-girlfriend united, and therefore ruining the symmetry of a table.

My experience with this sort of thing only goes as far as group dinners in restaurants, to which I will say this: if you don't RSVP and still show up, don't complain if you end up having to eat perched at a table corner, being elbowed by all the prompt guests.

D-Man said...

If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding.

Mark said...

"Loud argument is always a sign of lack of breeding."

Where I come from, loud argument is p[art of your heritage. If you're not arguing with someone over dinner you don't give a shit about them. Ergo, arguing with them means you love them. Crazy, but that's how it is...

Randominanity said...

"A gentleman never pisses in the bathtub"

Mrs Smith said...

When people do not RSVP, yet turn up to an event anyway, this is their way of saying "Please set me on fire. Or, if that is inconvenient, a carving fork inserted in my bottom would be equally pleasant." It is therefore rude not to oblige.