Monday, September 2, 2019

19th C. “Emergency Etiquette”

Humor has long been used to make fun of one’s social foibles. Many of those in power socially, feel the need to appear effortlessly in control of their actions, and that they are above the little faux pas that seem to plague the rest of us on a regular basis. They always seem to make the easiest target of the etiquette satire. 

A Few Points of  Etiquette 

Advice Easy to Remember and Practice in an Emergency

In the mad whirl of the cotillion, if you wear ready made clothing bought from an irresponsible dealer, and hear a h-z-z-z that doesn’t harmonize with the F string on the bass fiddle, it is entirely correct and proper to not “forward and back” according to the commands of the figure caller, but to back straight ahead without balking, until you reach the wall, when a pin neatly utilized may cover your embarrassment and retreat. People who snicker under such circumstances should be put outside the pale of good society. 

When invited out to dinner and you inadvertently get a huge mouthful of mince pie that is hot enough to melt the solder off a gas pipe, tangled up in your epiglottis, do not act as if you had the whooping cough, but arise calmly and with a sleight-of-hand movement toss the offending morsel behind the majolica dog in the corner, meantime patting his head as though you thought him alive. This graceful act never fails to win the heart of your hostess, who thinks you intend her faithful friend to partake of the festivities. 

Some writer on etiquette, a good many years ago, said that it was perfectly proper to eat fried chicken with the fingers. I have often noticed people seize on a wing and rip it open like they would tear a yard of clothing material or a bolt of calico, and so the cracking of the crazy bone was audible all over the dining room. It is true that some fried chickens require heroic treatment, but when an apprentice in etiquette tries to jerk the goose flesh off the second joint of a Louis XIV hen and squirts a streak of gravy into the eye of his neighbor, it does seem that a new code regarding the best manner of shattering the remains of a hard boiled fowl should be introduced. 

When the sheriff of the county serves a subpoena on you, it is considered in good taste to attend his reception without further invitation on his part. Some sticklers on politeness, however, who find that it will prevent their witnessing a ball game, go to the extreme of sending around a physician’s certificate to the effect that they are indisposed from the influence of the sportive element. 

Don't use snuff if your false teeth are not strictly adhesive. I once heard of a case where this rule was not observed, when the transgressor, in a thoughtless moment, nearly knocked the eye out of a King Charles spaniel. In any cases of doubt about the minor points of etiquette a strong bluff on a weak hand, will almost always win. Rochester Union, 1889

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

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