Mz Manners

You won't get this kind of advice from your mom and grandma.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Party Etiquette

Though we want most of credit for the hilarity on this website to go solely to us, we just had to post this great piece on party etiquette by Roy Orrock posted on Inside Bay Area.

The Etiquette That Your Mother Never Taught You

WITH THE holiday party season upon us, you may be having guests over, and I thought you might be interested in some tips I came across in a little etiquette manual titled "The Usages of Society, With a Glance at Bad Habits."

Unfortunately, it was written in 1834, so it is not the most up-to-date work on the subject, but I've always felt you cannot put a time limit on good manners. Here are a few excerpts:

"Never introduce people to one another without a previous understanding that it will be agreeable to both."

Preferably in writing. If you do not have such an agreement, just let them wander around wondering who everybody is. Under no circumstances, however, should they be allowed to speak to one another.

"Before dinner, your guests should assemble in the upstairs drawing room."
If you do not have a drawing room, or even an upstairs, you had better get busy and construct one. You don't have much time before Christmas.
THE BOOK specifies a nicety to be observed by male guests when the group is called to dinner:

"Give the lady the wall coming downstairs."

You may have seen this courtesy extended to female race car driver Danica Patrick in the latest NASCAR race, where male drivers not only gave her the wall but tried to push her through it.

"If at dinner you are requested to help anyone to sauce, do not put it over the meat or vegetables, but to one side."

If I understand this one correctly, if the woman seated next to you says "May I have some gravy for my mashed potatoes?" you are supposed to say, "Certainly," then ladle the gravy onto her plate as far from the mashed potatoes as possible. This may not make much sense to you, but etiquette is often puzzling to the lowborn and ignorant.

"The application of a knife to fish is likely to destroy the delicacy of its flavor."

For this reason, the fish should be eaten whole.


"Finger bowls filled with warm water come on at the dessert. Wet a corner of your napkin and wipe your mouth; then rinse your fingers. Do not practice the filthy habit of gargling your mouth at table."

This cannot be emphasized too strongly. You should never "gargle your mouth" — or any other part of your body for that matter — at table.

Other practices to be avoided when the finger bowls arrive include: 1. dipping your napkin in the warm water and using it to remove gravy spots from the hostess' blouse; 2. pouring the water over your head and briskly drying your hair with the napkin; 3. fashioning little boats with olives and toothpicks, floating them in your bowl, and making boat whistle sounds; 4. drinking it.

Practice these rules and you will soon be a model of refinement and elegance.


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