Monday, July 20, 2015

Etiquette "As She is Practiced"

Etiquette is, in short, doing a lot of queer things for fear that if you don’t a lot of people will conclude that you are lacking in refinement, if not common sense.
"A writer in the Baltimore Sun has some interesting sidelights on etiquette that contain more truth than poetry: 
Etiquette is preceding a lady up the stairs and tagging along behind her down the stairs. It is not drinking out of a fingerbowl. It is watching the hostess out of the corner of our eye to see which fork she is using. It is trying to cut the meat off a chicken bone without taking it in your fingers as you do in the bosom of the family. It is leaving your napkin unfolded after a meal to show your hostess that you trust her not to use it again. 
It is burning your tongue with boiling hot coffee rather than pour the coffee into the saucer to cool it. It is answering a formal invitation by speaking of yourself in the third person as though you were somebody else. It is marking a visiting card "P. P. C.” to show that you are going away and "P. T. O.” if you have written something on the back and bending the visiting card in the middle to indicate something or other that at the moment you can’t remember. 
It is, if you are a hostess, having the maid serve you first to prove to your guests that you are not going to poison them without dying, too. It is giving your left arm to a lady so that your right arm is free to use your sword in an emergency. It is waiting for a lady to speak first so that she may have the privilege of cutting you if she wants. It is addressing as "Esquire” anyone to whom you hope to sell life insurance or a bond. It is starting to eat something as soon as you have been helped to it, instead of waiting for everybody to be helped, thereby subtly insinuating to your hostess that her servants are ideal and are going to get around to the others in no time at all. 
Etiquette is, in short, doing a lot of queer things for fear that if you don’t a lot of people will conclude that you are lacking in refinement, if not common sense."  Editorial Page of Desert Sun News, 1937

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