Horrid Martinis and Other Disasters

Lack of etiquette is an issue that is the “hot topic” of the month. At a dinner last week, several people complained about “people and their rudeness.” My mother is incredibly uptight about etiquette. If you spend time with her, do not ever speak loudly in public, eat soup with the spoon pulled toward you, or forget to say, “Please excuse me,” not the rude command, “Excuse me!”

I have a copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette from 1952. I suspect it was a Christmas gift that I enjoyed, as much as socks when I was seven. I pulled it out recently to look up a form of address issue. Yes, I didn’t now if Senators were referred to as “Senator” or “Honorable.” Much of the book is dated. I certainly don’t bring a tuxedo when visiting friends for the weekend, but maybe I’m just rude and I ruin their dinner plans. Some of it makes good sense. This line is my favorite, and quite true: “There is nothing so horrid as a martini with too much vermouth.”

I also like the telephone etiquette. Rather than saying, “He’s busy. What do you want? Who are you?” it is better to say, “Oh, Miss Johnson, Mr. Adams will be so sorry to hear he missed your call. I can’t reach him right now, but where may he call you? Or is there something I can do?” Much better.

I’ll revisit some of these helpful tips down the road, but I wanted to add my own pet peeve. It is incredibly embarrassing when someone walks up to me and says, “You don’t remember me, do you?” First, I can barely dress myself or remember where to go in the morning. Second, I’m probably senile. I always introduce myself, even if I’ve met someone repeatedly, like this, “Hello, I’m Sean Adams, we met at Betty’s club.” Typically, they say, “Uh, yeah, I know you.” But perhaps they have no idea and now feel much more comfortable. You don’t need to say you met me at Betty’s club. That’s just an example.