August 8, 2013
When I turned eighteen, my grandmother gave me a copy of Miss Manners’ Book of Etiquette. I might have taken offense but every girl child in our family got the same book for their birthday that year. I read it cover to cover, but not necessarily for the educational value, as anyone who knows me can testify. Turns out Miss Manners has a wicked sense of humor, and her examples of what not to do were highly entertaining. However, even the ultimate expert on etiquette hasn’t seen it all, and my big book of proper behavior was written before the age of cell phones and social media, so I find myself in situations where I have no idea how to properly proceed.
For example, how does one tactfully suggest to a friend that if she really doesn’t want her boyfriend to know what she did last weekend, perhaps posting pictures on her Facebook page is not the best idea? And when the proverbial stuff hits the fan, is it really that unacceptable to say ‘I told you so’? Because choking it back could do me physical harm. Seriously.
And what is the acceptable way to inform the person beside you on the airplane that you’d rather they didn’t read your laptop screen? Other than typing ‘I see you eavesdropping, you nosy old broad’ in bold face font, although that is kind of fun. As is segueing into a scene guaranteed to make her gasp and clutch her pearls. Somehow, though, I don’t see Miss Manners approving of either.
I also see no mention in her book of how many candy bars a person must purchase when you only really stopped to use the convenience store restroom. You could substitute cups of coffee, but that’s counterproductive on road trips because it means you’ll be stopping at the next town to buy another cup of coffee you really didn’t want in order to use another rest room, and next thing you know you’ve made four stops before you get to Great Falls and you’ve got an eye twitch from too much caffeine and you still need to use the bathroom at the first mini mart off the Interstate exit.
While we’re sort of on the subject, how many Egg McMuffins equals an hour of free WiFi, anyway? Can I order just the sandwich, or am I expected to go for the full meal deal?
Technology aside, there are still old school deportment dilemmas that spring up from time to time, like that thing with my cousin a while back. A good friend of the family passed away, so she cooked up a nice beef roast and took it down to hall where the viewing was to be held. After she’d left her roast in the kitchen with the church ladies, she wandered out to give her regards to the family.
Except she didn’t know the family because she’d failed to realize there were two viewings at the same time on the same day and she’d shown up at the wrong hall.
So…what to do? She’d already handed over a really excellent beef roast, the kind you don’t cook for just any old dearly departed, and which the folks she actually knew were expecting to serve at their gathering but the servers at the wrong funeral had already set out on the buffet table. In such a situation, does one offer apologies, or just snatch the roast and run? Or slink out the side door and make haste to the correct funeral, hoping no one will notice your beef roast looks and tastes remarkably similar to that sold at the local grocery store deli?
Oddly enough, Miss Manners failed to devote a chapter to this particular situation. Maybe I should just forget her and ask the guy at the next table here at the cafe´, since he’s reading along over my shoulder as I write this.
Yeah, buddy. I mean you.
Kari Lynn Dell – Montana for Real
Hey, all, just a note to let you know I am off to the wild blue north of Alberta on the rodeo trail, so I’ll be offline until Monday. Feel free to chat amongst yourselves in my absence, even about me if you want. According to Miss Manners it’s only rude if I catch you.