Etiquette

Anyone who has known me personally for any length of time has likely realized that I’m not exactly a maven of the finer points of etiquette. Yes, I do know better than to chew with my mouth open, and I’ve only put my elbows on the table a couple of times in my 62+ years, but there are so many basic rules of etiquette with which I’m unfamiliar. Emily Post likely cannot rest in peace knowing the extent of my many faux pas.

I can’t blame Mama for my lack of social graces. She did her best to educate me, but the world we inhabited when I was young didn’t require much more than knowing how to answer a phone properly and the correct form for a thank you note, along with the aforementioned table etiquette. I was, and continue to be, a manners mess.

But maybe I’m not too old to learn. I purchased this little book at an estate sale this weekend.

One literally could not judge this book by its cover, but I knew it was old, and that made it intriguing.

The lettering on the spine was faint,

but inside the cover I discovered what might be the missing link in my social education:

While not a first edition, it’s still of a venerable age, and will be a welcome addition to my little library. Oh, and the priceless information within will most likely make me a highly sought after companion among the “Ladies Who Lunch.”

For example, if I decide to host a bridge party I now know how to write the invitation, including which scripts are acceptable for the engraving.

Appropriate apparel for every minute of one’s day is covered in the book. I read this section carefully, and nowhere did capris pants, a t-shirt, and flip flops get a mention. Huh.

Notice of the first four pages, only a portion of the fourth page addresses what a man should wear. And note, these pages only cover the morning hours. There are additional dress rules for afternoon and after six p.m., as well as ones for sporting events, funerals, weddings, business, and travel.

There is even a section on vacation customs. The first paragraph gave me the giggles.

I can well imagine the shoulder shrugs and exchanges of amused glances when I roll up to the resort in my Mickey Mouse t-shirt and shorts. Good times!

The author, Anna Steese Richardson, seems to have been a contemporary of the better known grande dame of etiquette, Emily Post. I wonder if the two had an ongoing ladylike feud regarding which type of calling card best conveyed the appropriate solemnity. I can just picture them politely snubbing one another at a wedding or requesting to be reseated at a dinner party to avoid being in one another’s presence.

Thank goodness many of the formalities the two women adhered to have been relaxed over time. The whole thing sounds exhausting.

Now, pardon me while I change out of my morning t-shirt into an afternoon t-shirt. I think I’ll pair it with my blue flip flops and dark wash jeans. I’ll be available to receive callers at my summer residence (see also, winter, spring, and fall accommodations) between 3:30 and 5 this afternoon. Be sure and leave your properly engraved card on the table in the foyer.

Peace, and Propriety, People.