So I decided to do a kind of Andy Rooney rant on the loss of manners in our society.
But first, a quiz.
We all love quizzes right?
Since quizzes have taken Facebook by storm - "What Kind of Doughnut Would You Be? or "Which Housewife of Orange County Are You?" (I have to admit, I succumb upon occasion. OK, I succumb a lot. I need to know that if I was a movie I would be "Roman Holiday" and that my old lady name would be "Ethel.") - anyway, I thought I would also succumb to the cheap ploy of luring readers with a quiz.
And then, I will recap with my vast knowledge of good manners in the hope that I will inspire. Because what separates us from the animals? Why, it's manners of course. Manners mean we are civilized.
For example, dogs have their own bit of etiquette that involves introducing themselves to each other by sniffing unmentionable places on other dogs. If we did that, well, it would be awkward and we would each probably be called an animal.
And when I say manners, I am not talking about using the right fork or undue flatulence or chewing with your mouth open, all things you should probably work on. I could care less about that.
I am talking about politeness, thoughtfulness, and consideration.
Now on to The Quiz.
So here are your questions - answer yes or no:
1. When I have overnight guests I provide everything they will need to be comfortable: robes, a hook in the bathroom to hang them on, fresh soap, toiletries that don't look like they are on their last legs (e.g. a fresh tube of toothpaste, not one rolled up into a tiny ball), hair dryer, fresh towels, snacks, bottled water and glasses in their room, clean sheets (duh), closet space, magazines, and I tell them to "help themselves" so they feel at home.
2. When I am the overnight guest, I always take my hosts out to dinner or provide them with a thoughtful thank you.
3. When I am a dinner guest, I always bring wine and I don't expect it to be opened while I am there so that I can drink it all.
4. I am rarely, if ever, late.
5. When I send a holiday card to my friends and family I do NOT include a long, single-spaced bragging letter about my family's accomplishments.
6. I sincerely compliment my friends and loved ones on a daily basis.
7. If someone asks for an RSVP, I RSVP.
8. I always return phone calls and emails and I do it in a timely manner.
9. I never check my email, text or answer my phone (unless it's an emergency) while visiting with friends or surf the web while talking on the phone. And I don't have my cell phone on the table while dining unless I am a doctor on call.
10. When dining out and I am not picking up the check, I split the check in half and don't quibble over the extra pennies on either side, even if the other party ordered way more than I.
11. I always introduce people to each other.
12. When dining out, I don't make scenes in restaurants.
13. I show an interest in others by not talking about myself all of the time and asking them questions about themselves.
14. I always thank my host the next day after a party or dinner, and I send hand-written thank you notes when I have stayed overnight or longer.
15. When I receive a gift, I always send a thank you and also remember to thank them again later and tell them how much I am enjoying my gift.
Count up your yes answers:
13-15 Emily Post would be proud.
10-12 It was the being late, talking on your cell phone and not talking
about yourself questions, right?
7-9 This is like getting 50% on a test which is a fail. You need to
4-6 You need to take an etiquette class and possibly even get some
1-3 My little wine guzzling poodle, Tarquin, got a better score than
you (and he was drunk).
0 You have single-handedly contributed to the downfall of Western
So now it's time for my rant.
If you received a high score, you could skip this part, but then you would miss the fun!
1. Overnight Guests. When you invite someone to stay with you, that invitation implies you really want them at your house. And if that is true, you need to show them by providing them with many of the same comforts they would have if they stayed in a hotel. For example, how would you feel if you were staying in a hotel and the shower had a used piece of soap with a black hair on it? I rest my case.
2. Host/Hostess Gifts when staying overnight. Taking your hosts out to dinner is the least you can do. You might also practice being a good guest by cleaning up after yourself, helping with meals and at least pretending you are enjoying their company.
3. Bringing Wine. If you bring wine to a dinner party and ask it to be opened during dinner, then you are implying two things: that you didn't think the host would supply wines good enough for you and that you are a cheapskate. What you bring to dinner is for the host, not you.
4.Being Late. Sure, we are all late sometimes, but there better be a damn good reason and the person waiting for you should be apprised of your progress. Why? Because when you are late you are saying that my time is not as valuable as your time. Yes, it's a hassle to get places on time when you have children and other obligations, but that's the price you pay for having friends and a family. It's not all about you. So if you need to make some changes to your schedule and break out a bit of a sweat to get there on time, so be it. You are showing your friends and colleagues that you respect them.
5. The Holiday Letter. OK, this is one of my big pet peeves. That single-spaced, typed, full-page letter included with your Holiday card that outlines all of your family's accomplishments, good deeds and month-by-month minutiae of your life. It's one thing if you would include something juicy like your son's divorce or the uncle that got sent to prison, but it's always "See how perfect my family is?" Is that what the Holidays are all about? For the time it takes you to create and type that letter and stuff it into the Holiday card, you could have hand-written a line or two to each of your friends and family members telling them what they mean to you or sharing a happy memory. To me, that's what the Holidays are supposed to be about. Others, not you.
6. Compliments. It's easy to take your friends and loved ones for granted, but there is nothing like calling attention to something GOOD about them or a happy memory or just that you are glad to be together. It takes very little for you to say something nice and it's huge for the other person. "Rosy, you are so much fun. I am glad you are my friend." And in conversation, how often do you acknowledge the other person's point of view, e.g. Really good point, Rosy, I will remember that. Doesn't happen much.
7. RSVP. If someone asks you to RSVP, that means they want to know yes or no. They are trying to plan a party or event, for god's sake. They need to know how many are coming. Don't think not responding at all will mean no to them. How long does it take you to send back that little RSVP card that is sent with a wedding invitation and includes a SASE? Or how long really does it take to fill out the little online survey that is sometimes sent with the e-invite or to reply to an email or even, dare I say it? Pick up the phone? And if someone is inviting you to something, I assume it's a friend. Can't you spare one minute in your day to respond to a friend?
8. Returning Phone Calls and Emails. There is just no excuse not to return a phone call or reply to an email, especially if it's your mother.
9. Social Media. At dinner, you should not be checking your cell phone. In fact, your cell phone should not even be sitting on the table. That implies you are waiting for something more interesting than the people you are dining with. And answering the phone while visiting with your friends also implies you are waiting for something more exciting to happen. And at home, surfing the web while talking on the phone, don't you realize we can hear you typing?
10. Splitting the Bill. To me there is nothing more embarrassing than quibbling over every item on a restaurant bill. That's why when I have the means, I just pick up the check because of past experiences with people pulling out calculators. And by the way, if you invite someone to dine at a restaurant, you should pay and tell the other parties you will be picking up the check. That's just the polite thing to do. But if everyone knows the bill will be shared, then it should be split in half, even if the other couple ordered Dom Perignon. If you know you spent more, then, because you have impeccable manners, you will throw in more money to cover that. But you can't do anything about the other person. Just make a note that you probably don't want to dine with them again.
11. Introductions. Someone walks up to you and your group, you talk to that person and then the person walks away. Hey, what are we? Chopped liver? Now, I can forgive you if you can't remember the person's name. That seems to be happening to me more and more, but in general, when you are approached, it is common courtesy for everyone concerned to make introductions. It's a respect thing. And I won't get into the proper way to introduce someone. Just do it however you want, but do it.
And when introduced look that person in the eye, smile and give him or her a nice firm handshake, even if you are a woman. Fist pumping aside, if you do shake hands, let it be a firm and sincere grasp of the hand, not a limp version that feels like you are going to take my fingers and pull my hand up for a kiss. And smile! That shows you really are happy to meet me.
12. Scenes in Restaurants. Though I am known for having a thing about being seated by the door, server's station, bathroom or kitchen (I don't like it), I don't make a scene about it. I don't even make a scene if the waiter is snarky and questions my wine choices or takes forever to acknowledge my presence. I just won't go back there again.
13. Talking about Yourself. I have sat through entire lunches with people I have just met and they have not asked me one question about myself, but rather talking, talking, talking about themselves. Do you think I would want to have lunch with them again? 'Ya think? Asking your companions questions that get them to talk about themselves is the polite thing to do and shows you are interested.
14. Handwritten thank you notes? Probably not going to happen anymore. But a phone call, email or text should be sent after a party or evening out with friends.
15. Acknowledging Gifts. I think most of us are pretty good about thanking people for gifts when we are face to face. But when it's long distance, that requires a bit of effort and I have noticed that my gift giving is sometimes not acknowledged. I have decided to not give a gift anymore to someone who doesn't care enough about me or my gift to acknowledge receipt.
But even if you are really good about acknowledging gifts, you can really make someone's day by reminding him or her of the gift months later and saying thanks again, saying how useful it is or how much you are enjoying that gift or wearing it or displaying it in their presence. My Dad taught me that.
"I can't tell you how much I am enjoying those brooms you bought me for Valentine's Day, Hubby. What a thoughtful romantic gift. I use them every day and think of you."
Do you have one to share?
Now go out there and contribute your good manners to the good of civilization!
See you Friday
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