Monday, July 20, 2015

Etiquette and Cold War Russians

The closest person there was to a "Soviet Amy Vanderbilt," was a book entitled "Soviet Etiquette." It was published in 1974.

Russians Offered Etiquette Tips; A tongue-in-cheek editorial from the Cold War era

The Russians... Those people who have disdained etiquette for years as a “petty bourgeois pretention.” "The Literary Gazette" of the USSR reported a few months ago that "interest in etiquette today is more extensive than ever.” But literature on the subject is practically nonexistent. A Russian graduate reportedly said, "The only etiquette books I’ve ever seen were from Poland. "I don’t know what we can learn from them." 

"Soviet Etiquette" is one brief collection published a few years ago. But even it gives the most basic and pedantic advice. For example: “Never dance while drunk, smoking or wearing a hat. While eating ice cream in a theater, never hold your cone over your neighbor’s lap." 

I’ll go along with that, but it’s obvious that they could use more expert counsel. So— naturally I have come to the rescue. Feel free to clip out the following advice, translate it to Russian and forward it to any Nikolai or Anastasia

When it comes to eating, for instance, few people have had more experience than I. Here are a few tips: 
  • If you are invited to dinner, don’t ask for a doggy bag to take home all the leftovers. 
  • It's gross to tuck your napkin under your chin even if you are trying to hide a dirty shirt or an offensive tie.
  • Refrain from talking with your mouth full when eating spaghetti. Your date will find it difficult to remove sauce from her blouse. 
  • It shows good manners to slurp soup but never elbow the person next to you in the eye when you drink from you bowl. 
  • If you spill your coffee, don't use your date's scarf to mop it up. 
  • It's acceptable to eat peas with a knife, but if you drop one, don’t try to find it on your hands and knees. The dog will get it. 
  • Also, if you drop your knife on the floor, don't pick it up. 
  • You can butter your bread with your fork handle.
  • Never drink water from your finger bowl even during a drought. 
  • If you start choking on a piece of meat, make sure you point out to your hostess that it isn’t her fault before you pass out.         
A men's Homburg hat ~ "Years ago I also talked to Amy Vanderbilt about proper introductions..." 
  • Never introduce a girl to a boy unless he is rich, famous and single andor the girl is desperate. 
  • If you do have calling cards printed, it is considered gauche to have “available" stamped on them. 
  • When introducing a poor friend to a rich one, don't point out the yearly salary of each. 
  • Never accept a blind date unless you know the person well. 
  • Your appearance cannot be underestimated. If you don't have black shoes to wear with your tux, make sure your sneakers are clean. 
  • Hats are not worn with an evening dress especially Homburgs. 
  • Perfume should not be so excessive that someone in a passing car is aware of it.
  • Heavy cosmetics are a no-no even if your date prefers men that way. —The Desert Sun, 1977

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia