No Free Johns

Posted on February 27, 2015


Anyone in my familial circle can tell you I have a bladder possessing the stamina of an Olympian camel.  As odd as it may be, I am quietly proud of this ability.  I wouldn’t put it on par with my ability to turn my tongue upside down or my capacity to wiggle both ears alternately but one that I proud of none the less.  You may ask how this fascinating bit of ridiculousness could in any way be applicable to a faux pas topic.  Well, let me tell you…

The Northland skies recently delivered us two feet of fresh, powdery snow.   With enthusiasm, my husband and I loaded the snowmobiles to ride remote, wooded trails and cross frozen lakes and rivers.  Along about the fifth hour of our remote excursion and after consuming a 36 ounce liquid mix of coffee, water and grapefruit Pellegrino, I knew I needed to make a pit stop post-haste.  As the fearless trail leader of our little pack, Mr. Martini obliged me by leading me across icy field and stream to the nearest town; 20 miles away as the crow flies.  We are not crows.

I sprinted into the nearest (and only) establishment with an indoor Loo and headed straight to The Head.  In the 10 minutes it took me to redress in full snowmobile regalia, it occurred to me that I had not planned on making a purchase.  This is where faux pas savviness finally presents itself.

» Faux Pas Lesson «

 Should you need to utilize the facilities of a business and your plans did not include true patronage, PLEASE demonstrate true savoir-faire and make a least one, small purchase for the privilege of using their amenities.  They will appreciate it and you will have demonstrated respect and thankfulness.  In addition to these little benefits, I personally enjoyed the house drink specialty;  A Double Moose Ear Cappuccino with an extra shot of Moose Ears.  I had a long ride ahead of me after all.

My Moose

K. Martini

What is a party with spinich dip? It’s a Direct Sales Home Party!

Posted on January 11, 2015

I recall the days when Tupperware and Avon were the home party king-pins.  In fact, other than traveling salespeople peddling encyclopedias and vacuums, burping plasticware and Skin-So-Soft were only available through prestigious home party sales.  I could not wait for the seasonal Avon catalog to be released.  It was the female pre-pubescent equivalent of the lingerie section of the Sears catalog for the boys.  Page upon glossy page of big girl glamour enticed me.  I don’t recall my mother ever hosting such a soiree which accounts for why I relied on taking babysitting jobs from Avon representatives to obtain free samples of girlie goodies.  Today, you could attend a home party nearly every night for four years and still not exhaust the product possibilities.  There are more than 1500 direct sales companies that make up the $35 billion dollar industry.  Thirty Five BILLION!  To date, and to the best of my recollection, I have been invited to 42 home parties and spent an astounding $6000.00 on a cornucopia of crap (except for my black lace Cabi skirt with the hidden elastic waistband).

Here, my friends, is just a sampling of the goodies I am currently in possession of…

  • A locket missing all but one fake rhinestone I’m sure was eaten by and killed my cat.

  • Long wear lipstick that turns a ghastly shade of purple only Courtney Love could wear.

  • Crystal candle holders that require candles only available by special order at a price that exceeds the holders.

  • A gluten-free crust mix the moths invaded but I’m sure will bake out – someday.

  • Amazonite earrings missing the amazonite.  What the heck is amazonsite?

  • A cat collar for a cat that died two days after the order arrived. Damn locket.

  • A $50 potato chip maker sitting in my garage sale pile in it’s original packaging.

  • A vaginal lubricant my granddaughters use as Barbie hair gel.

  • A $100 limited edition (ohhh, ahhh) cake basket that currently holds the purple lipstick, cat collar and Barbie’s vaginal lubricant.

Why do I attend such functions?  I go for the female bonding experience, the mediocre wine and spinach dip and to support my friend’s need to earn a little extra cash or bling.  I am under no obligation to attend.  A polite declination is perfectly Faux-Pas acceptable.  If I attend, I also understand that I am under no obligation to purchase anything but I happen to be a sucker for a well-presented sales pitch that inevitably convinces me that I NEED the peddled product.  I can also easily justify this thought process because my friend needs the extra cash and/or bling.  Yes, there is some social pressure involved at these shindigs. It can be uncomfortable and awkward to be the only person who fails to place an order.  I have been known to order up the least expensive item available just to appease my ego but I’ve always done it with a happy heart.  After all, I need some more crap for next spring’s garage sale.

K. Martini

Trial Style

Posted on March 15, 2014

Two years ago I received a very official looking letter in the mail.  My initial thought it was a clever marketing campaign by another struggling carpet cleaning company.  Upon closer scrutiny (and before it hit the recycling bin), I realized it was not a marketing gimmick but in fact, a government issued envelope.  Of course my mind began to catastrophize. Did I run a red light?  Did I enter the carpool land as a single occupant?  Did I actually strangle  my   husband?  Did I did I did I?  My heart raced as I tore open the    envelope.  It was then I understood I had been called to fulfill my civic duty;  I was officially summoned to jury duty.

Relief ensued  just prior to  coping an attitude of inconvenience.  The court however; did not agree with my definition of hardship.  Seems as though Tuesday’s lunchtime massage would have to be rescheduled.  The simple truth is that it’s difficult for the average person to shirk the obligation without making themselves subject to hefty penalties that could include jail time.  How ironic.  U.S. citizen?  Check.  Proficient in English?  Check.  Disqualifying mental or physical condition?  Hmm…check.  At least 18 years of age?  Barely.  Since I could not get out of it, I would embrace it!

Ever being the overachiever, I arrived 15 minutes ahead of the designated time.  I dressed tastefully in business casual attire.  I carried a notebook, two pens, one pencil and enough magazines to share with those who forgot appropriate reading material and TicTacs.  I also sat in the front row, center seat.  As the holding room began to grow with prospective jurors, my astonishment also grew.  One woman sported Hello Kitty pajama pants and a stained pink tee-shirt begging someone to “Check for Lumps“.  I’m only assuming but I don’t think she walked the 60-mile Susan G. Komen charity walk.  One gentleman thought it appropriate to wear a baseball cap thoughtfully reminding us to “Sheath that knife, she ain’t your wife“. Two people were reminded to turn off their cell phones whereby one  grumbled to the deputy that she had nearly reached a personal best in Candy Crush.

While I understand the club for overachievers is self-appointed, I hereby sentence you to read, absorb and follow elementary court standards out of r-e-s-p-e-c-t.  I just could not resist the judicial pun.

1.) Arrive at the appointed time.

2.) Keep inappropriate slogan apparel at home.  Your attire should be neat, clean and respectful.

3.) Take off your hat in the courtroom.

4.) Turn off your cell phone. No sound or vibrate modes should be active.

5.) Address the judge as “Your Honor” only.  The court is serious about this as one of my fellow jurors attempted to bond with the judge with a “Yoh Man”.  He was immediately escorted to the judges chambers with a smirk and came out noticeably smirk-free for the next 3 days.

6.) Keep quiet unless spoken to.

7.) Stand when the judge enters & exits the courtroom.

8.) Pay attention.  Do not look though magazines (even the ones I lent you) or work on your knitting project when in the courtroom.

9.) Toss your own personal trash (coffee cups, candy wrappers, newspapers, etc.).

10)  Do not talk about the trial details with anyone outside the courtroom or jury room until the end of the trial.

I will admit that I found the entire experience to be “rich”.  I made new acquaintances,  I served my country without having to wear camo and I learned a little bit more about our judicial system from the right side of the law.  The odds are about 1 in 6.73 that you will be summoned to serve within your lifetime.  In one year, the odds are roughly 1 in 125 that you will be selected as a juror.  Should your number come up, try to remember that the quality and integrity of our democratic system will be demonstrated by you.

K. Martini

Language Blockade

Posted on December 6, 2013

I’ve always wished to communicate fluently in a language other than  my native English.  Like many, I know a smattering of words in Spanish, Japanese, French, German and Swahili.  I am confident that my rest room needs will be accommodated, my greetings conveyed and common curse words could be muttered under by breath in Mexico, Japan, France, Germany and Kenya.  I am also  confident that my worldly vocabulary will forever be limited to these few words.  I continue to lean on my belief that with friendly enthusiasm and genuine interest, anything can be conveyed – it will just take a little longer.

In college, I briefly dated a young man who was of Puerto Rican descent.  Understand that his attendance was legendary as his choice of higher education was located in the upper Midwest where Puerto Rican individuals were viewed as aliens.  What attracted me to him was his ability to light up the dance floor in much the same way John Travolta did in Saturday Night Fever.  Every girl wanted to dance with him but every Saturday night for two years he chose me as his evenings dance partner.  At the end of the second year of our dancing partnership, he invited me to his house to meet his extended family.  I enthusiastically accepted and quickly found myself the alien.  I spent the evening listening to friendly banter in a language completely foreign to  me.  I became Cheerful Stupid ;  I sat quietly in a corner chair with a plastic smile planted on my face pretending I was comfortable with the situation.  All the others present also spoke English fluently.  They had neglected to account for the one person in the room who could only utter “Me encantaria bailar contigo” (I would love to dance with you), “Le gusta bailar gran” (You dance great!) and “La camisa poliester bonito” (Your polyester shirt looks nice).  I quickly learned that these phrases limited my articulate footprint and I was left feeling isolated and awkward; except from 9-12pm on Saturday night when spoken language was unnecessary.

This was not an isolated incident.  I’ve faced many similar social situations over the years and most recently at the local nail salon. It is owned, operated and staffed by first generation Vietnamese women who rarely stray from their native tongue.  I am convinced the unrecognizable comments and giggles around me are aimed at my neglected cuticle or color choice of OPI nail polish.  I become paranoid. I become Cheerful Stupid all over again and leave the establishment  not in a state of pampered calm but in one of anxiety. To make matters worse, I paid for the service all for the low, low cost of $50 plus tip.

As we embark upon the holiday season and social gatherings amplify, please take a moment to survey your surroundings.  Extend that consciousness and respect into the new year and should you detect the distinctive cheerful  stupid grin, graciously engage that person fully into the conversation.  That is unless they are happily floating across the dance floor.

K. Martini

Cheerful Stupid:

Words for the Broken: Part One

Posted on October 20, 2013


With a heavy heart, I am re-posting Words for the Broken.  This morning, a young friend of our family lost their youngest, three-year-old daughter.  It was sudden and unexpected.  As my heart breaks in their sorrow and grief, I ask that you read the simple advice below.  I also ask that you lift your heart in prayer for this young family and for those in your life who are facing their own personal struggles.

I’m convinced that death and divorce bring out the worst in people.  Some folks behave as though the event is contagious and fade out of the lives of those left behind.  Others simply shed their facade and display their true colors.  I guess you could say this is redundant.

I’ve faced many joys in recent years and many sorrows.  My best friend’s husband died in a sudden and tragic accident.  Two young couples each lost their…

View original post 391 more words

Words for the Broken: Part One

Posted on October 20, 2013

With a heavy heart, I am re-posting Words for the Broken.  This morning, a young friend of our family lost their youngest, three-year-old daughter.  It was sudden and unexpected.  As my heart breaks in their sorrow and grief, I ask that you read the simple advice below.  I also ask that you lift your heart in prayer for this young family and for those in your life who are facing their own personal struggles.

I’m convinced that death and divorce bring out the worst in people.  Some folks behave as though the event is contagious and fade out of the lives of those left behind.  Others simply shed their facade and display their true colors.  I guess you could say this is redundant.

I’ve faced many joys in recent years and many sorrows.  My best friend’s husband died in a sudden and tragic accident.  Two young couples each lost their newborn sons within hours of giving birth.  My husband lost both his parents within three months of each other.  A dear friend lost her  battle with breast cancer.  My mother died.  The days, weeks, months and years that followed these events provide much of the council here.

Walking through the storm of grief that accompanies the death of a loved one is harrowing.  It is traumatic and confusing.  Turmoil ensues in the first hours and days of the death and gives passage to a journey of unspeakable suffering.  Unfortunately, it is during these heart-rending times that many of us stumble with our words and deeds all delivered with good intention but all too often cause additional injury to the grieving.

Conveying heart-felt sympathies does not have to be tricky yet for some reason the discomfort of death often prompts us to deliver canned and inappropriate responses.

“It was for the best.”

“It was God’s will.”

“God does not give you more than you can handle.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“This will make you stronger.”

“You need to move on.”

“I know how you feel.”

“You have other children / You can have other children.”

“You will get over it.”

All of those statements are inappropriate and injurious.

What do we say to someone who is suffering from the death of a loved one?  As with all etiquette principles, we must first and foremost consider the feelings of the other person.  This is definitely not the time to turn the focus onto you.  You must dig deep and become selfless.  You do not and cannot know what they are feeling.  Their grief experience is theirs and theirs alone. Appropriate comments may be any of the following:

“I’m sorry.”

“I cannot imagine what you must be feeling.”

“I’m here to support you in whatever you need.”

When in doubt as to what to say, try a gentle hug, a shared tear, a silent prayer.  All these non-verbal messages will convey to the broken your authentic feelings without the risk of saying something unintentionally hurtful.

Then, when the days turn to weeks and the weeks into months and years, demonstrate your best form ever by quietly walking alongside the broken for the duration of their journey, as long as that may take.  That my friends, is the epitome of good form.  ♥


Nearly Naked Neanderthals

Posted on August 10, 2013

Most mornings I greet the day by taking a two-mile run/walk (mostly walk) around the quiet parks and streets of my neighborhood.  I covet this time.  If I rise early enough I can trek without the barking of dogs or the roar of lawn mowers.  I can contemplate my day or meditate without distraction.  I become focused; more balanced.  Serenity and calm take over the anxieties created from a hectic life pace.

Picture if you will, a morning sky filled with white puffy clouds, an air temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and a dazzling but lazy sun just peeking up from the horizon.  The song of robins and cardinals singing in the light breezed filled air.  Perfection, until horror strikes and yanks me from my happy place faster than an automatic sprinkler.  As I round the corner of my final meditative workout, my eyes lock on an extraordinary site. A paunch, middle-aged, haired covered man wearing nothing but his ill-fitting tidy (almost) whities.  The site is completed by his generous and drooping mid-section which only serves to exaggerate the exposure of his backend crevice.  As he bends down to grab the mornings newspaper, he spots me, gives me a sluggish wave of his hand and a leisurely “Howdy do”.  Momentarily stunned, I respond with “It’s a beautiful morning, isn’t it?”  How ironic.

The week following this real-life encounter, I began to notice additional specimens of the same phenomenon.  An 80 year-old man sauntering down the street with only his new, white Sketchers and too-tight, polyester running shorts.  A teenage boy mowing his parent’s lawn with only ear buds and an iPhone clipped to his sagging jeans.  A wannabe Lance Armstrong bicyclist peddling bare-chested along the busy highway with sweat dripping along his very white and shiny, hairless back.  Apparently, my veil of ignorance has been lifted along with the arrival of the warm and short northern summer.

As a child, I can’t recall witnessing shirtless men unless it was the neighborhood fathers exiting the community pool.  When did this phenomenon of masculine bare chests become the norm rather than the exception?  Once again, I must have missed the progressive movement.

Gentlemen young or old, slim or heavy,  Ryan Gosling or your average Joe are not exempt from etiquette fashion protocols.  Unless you are sitting in your recliner in the private confines of your home, at the beach or playing a game where skins and shirts are opposing teams, cover it up boys.  Just because you can, does not mean you should.  This is not a prudish viewpoint but rather one of civility and respect.

Neanderthals you are not.

shirtless man

K. Martini

A Request for the Secret Formula

Posted on June 25, 2013

My husband’s Grandmother could create magical butterhorn crescent rolls from scratch.  They were buttery, flaky little treasures that would flush the cheeks of Betty Crocker.  After years of enjoying these tasty treats on holidays and special occasions, I summoned up the courage and made the request for her recipe.  She humbly complied with my request and carefully scripted the top-secret formula on a 3 x 5 index card.  I excitedly returned to my kitchen where I spent the next 2 weeks painstakingly following the directions she so carefully transcribed.  Each attempt resulted in varying degrees of disaster leaving me to question my culinary proficiency.  Following every embarrassing result I would phone her in hopes she could diagnose the issue.  The response I received with each S.O.S. appeal was the same: “Well dear, if you just follow the directions I’m sure they will turn out perfectly.”  There you had it…I was a dope.

Eventually, I gave up the quest for butterhorn crescent roll perfection and allowed my dear ‘ole Grandmother-In-Law to reign supreme.

Years past when out of the blue my husband made a suggestion I still question to this day.  He proposed that I invite Granny to our house and video tape her making her rolls.  He said, “This would be such a great memorial and she is in her 80’s.  Won’t live forever.”  I said, “What a great idea!” He said, “Oh by the way, you may be able to get some baking pointers.”  I said, “What the hell.”

I did in fact, receive some pointers although they were inadvertently provided.  I learned that dear ‘ole Gran Gran left out a key ingredient.  I suspect this was intentional because I also learned that she had been cheating in our weekly games of Canasta.

So…are there etiquette rules for this sort of situation?  Of course there are!  Go ahead and humbly make the request for the delicious recipe.  This is well within acceptable boundaries however; be prepared for a refusal.  While the request is the ultimate form of flattery, some folks are just not comfortable divulging their secret formulas.  That’s OK to.

The other lesson learned is never underestimate the craftiness of an elderly woman and don’t allow her to ever cut the deck.

Rest in Peace

Rest in Peace

K. Martini

Hey you, Bartender!

Posted on June 5, 2013

It’s a widely known fact that I’ve been blessed with an abundance of unreserved expressions and social comforts.  I’ve naively believed that everyone contains the same characteristics but in only slightly differing measure.  My measure however; happens to be greater than most.  While this characteristic comes in handy in most social situations, there are a few that require less spontaneous and reserved (dignified) engagements.  Gaining a bartender’s attention is one such occasion.

martini glass white

A recent Girl’s Night Out provides a glimpse into today’s illustration of a common social foible and some offense advice.  Having just dined on a delectable meal of Greek food, we ladies adjourned to the bar area of the restaurant for a refreshing libation.  After spending 20 minutes patiently waiting for table service, I sauntered up to the bar to place our order directly.  So did 20 other thirsty patrons.  I’m not a physically large girl so you would assume that the larger person would be the first to gain the attention of the barkeeper.  You might also assume that a large person with personality traits akin to mine would be the winner of Who Can Gain the Bartenders Attention First Contest.  You would be correct in your assumption if the large person with a large personality also had self-restraint and manners.  I handily won the stealthy contest with a personal best time of 15 seconds.  Before I divulge my attention-getting secrets, let me tell you what I DID NOT DO but what I witnessed as desperate, tacky and disrespectful tactics:


  • I did not yell “Hey Bartender!” and/or snap my fingers at him as he flashed before my eyes.
  • I did not whistle.
  • I did not throw a condiment, straw or coaster.
  • I did not lower my blouses neckline or crawl onto the bar top.


  • Positioned myself strategically.  As smaller girl, this was not behind the towering beer taps but rather close to where the bartender was most active.
  • Smiled, smiled and smiled some more.
  • Engaged and attempted to retain eye contact while simultaneously….
  • Keeping a slight bend of my relaxed but extended arm (see diagram below) with a $20 bill conspicuously visible.

Suggested Arm Placement


K. Martini

Book Crooks

Posted on May 11, 2013

“Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other folks have lent me.”  Anatole France

A quiet little phenomenon pervades our culture and my home.  While relatively mild on the spectrum of Faux Pas foibles, it is one that continually infiltrates my life.  It is the issue of book borrowing.  My husband and I lead small groups for our church and have come to acquire a large library of books and materials that support not only group topics but also personal enjoyment.  In the past 15 years, we’ve lent out approximately 50 books.  To date, not one of these books has been returned.  This shocking statistic came to me yesterday as I was re-organizing my bookshelves.  I’ve resisted putting pen to paper to calculate the total dollars lost as my denial is much more comfortable than the reality.

With the popularity of eBooks and other electronic forms of literature becoming the norm, I’m going to assume that my little problem will self-correct.  It will not however; prevent me from incurring the cost of replacement.  As an etiquette writer you might presume that my life is free of personal blunder.  You would be mistaken.  I recently (relatively speaking) borrowed a book from a friend only to return it 12 months later after losing interest in it then losing it all together in my wellspring of reading material.  After blowing off the dust,  I sheepishly returned it along with a gift card to a nearby bookstore.  It was a guilt gift.

So…is there book borrowing etiquette?  There sure is.  In short, you handle the borrowing of a book as you would anything else that does not belong to you.

You politely ask

You quickly read

You promptly return

Allow me to expound on the last point, please.  You promptly return it in the same condition as you received it.  You are not the owner therefore, you are responsible for the borrowed item while in your possession.  You will resist the urge to use it as a coaster.  You refrain from dog-earring the pages.   You battle your impulse to read while bathing.  You contain the compulsion to highlight the text or make notes in the margins.  You wash the remnants of the chocolate lava cupcake from your fingers prior to opening the first page.

I’ve adopted three new policies for the Martini household which you also might find helpful: 1.) I will not loan a book that I highly value. 2.) I will keep a log of the books I have loaned out.  3.) I will keep a stash of bookstore gift cards handy when I fail to take my own advice.


A Graceful Layoff

Posted on May 6, 2013

6 months, 16 days, 1 hour and 38 minutes.  That is exactly how long I held my dream job before I, along with 1100 of my colleagues, received notice of termination.  Thankfully, this did not come as a complete surprise.  There were bold indications weeks before the deed was done which allowed me to complete the cycle of emotions that accompany unwelcome news.  Also thankfully, I cycle quickly.  This cannot be said for many of my colleagues.  Surviving a layoff with style and grace is not easy.  As with many other traumatic life events, it calls one to dig deep, swallow hard and rise above the fray.  This must be accomplished when your surroundings are anything but normal.

Today’s advice comes to you born of my recent experience during the weeks leading up to and shortly after the receipt of my pink slip.  While the situation could be best described as a blood bath (1100 individuals all released simultaneously), many of you may find yourself in a party of one.  No matter the circumstance or number, your release from employment is an opportunity to demonstrate the character you possess.

Anger, resentment, shock, denial.  These are all common emotions felt in the aftermath of a termination.  While you may not immediately care how you publicly demonstrate your emotion, the long term damage resulting from unchecked reactions can be more catastrophic than you realize.  As an (unemployed) Faux Pas aficionado, please review the following advice:

→ Don’t bad mouth the company or any of your fellow employees.  This may be the greatest temptation of all but your resistance to disparaging remarks signals dignity and professionalism.  Your public display of emotion will follow you long after your exit from the building.  This tip also pertains to social media sites inside and outside the company.  P.S.  If you think your username is anonymous, it is not.  Be remembered for your grace not the tantrum.  You may need references and networking opportunities for your next job search.

Don’t take it personally or shoot the messenger.  The person delivering the bad news is generally not the initiator of the directive.  Layoff decisions are typically made at the highest levels of an organization and made without names or faces attached.  If, on the other hand, you threw up eggnog  on the corporate copier during the holiday party, were repeatedly cited for raiding the office supply cabinet of Post-It Notes and you are the only one receiving the pink slip – you might want to consider it personal.

→ Leave all company property with the company.  If you did not purchase the goods with personal funds and/or it was used for your job, it belongs to the company. Period.  This includes all the files on you company computer whether they are personal or not. Aside from the moral issue, there could be a legal issue as well.  Your bad day would be a whole lot worse looking out of a jail cell or having to face financial restitution.  Yes, this includes the Post-It Notes hoard.

→ Resist sending mass email goodbyes.  I received no less than 50  of these “Dear John” pity notes during the last week of my tenure.  After reading the first 10, the time I dedicated to them was as long as it took me to hit the delete button.  If  you must send an email of departure, take the time to address them to close colleagues and future contacts individually and include your updated contact information.

Complete all your unfinished work and complete it well.  Depending on the situation, this may not be possible however; make every attempt to complete your work to the best of your ability.  Go a step further and offer to transfer your knowledge and collateral to a retained employee.

As for me, I am confident that I will land on my professional feet again soon.  I am taking pride in my previous contributions as brief as my tenure was and I look forward to the next chapter.  Until then, I will take advantage of my circumstance and intensify my search for Faux Pas worthy specimens and the knowledge and stories I can impart.  I have a feeling Faux Pas’s tenure will be substantially longer than my last job. 🙂

K. Martini

At the Eatery: Splitting the Bill

Posted on April 6, 2013

Handling the division of a restaurant bill is a situation that presents itself with regularity.  How to handle it with taste and grace can be tricky especially when your table is filled with diverse palates, relationships and wallet sizes.

Here are some common sense strategies and etiquette tips that will aide in your bill-splitting navigations.

#1:  Request a separate check upon ordering.  This not only assures that you will be accountable for only your costs but it conveys to the rest of your table partners you prefer to pay your portion only.

#2:  If the group suggests an even split, graciously contribute your portion and don’t get hung up on the pennies (i.e.: error on the generous side).  This work well if the group is fairly uniform in individual costs.  If, on the other hand, Doris dined on lobster and a bottle of 2005 Chateau Angelus Saint-Emilion and you had the soup of the day with a Diet Coke – well, that could change the dynamic.  If you find yourself with a lopsided financial division and no desire to fiscally contribute to Doris’s big ticket buzz, it is perfectly acceptable to plunk down your portion only.  Do this along with a simple statement of “I believe this should cover my soup and soda.”  Message delivered.  If you happen to be Doris, please ensure that you cover your costs sufficiently to prevent anyone else from having to pony up for your extravagances.

#3:  Even splits should be divided by person, not couple.  This is obviously applicable to tables where there is a mix of singles and couples.  If there are children in attendance, those responsible for the child, pay for the child’s fare.

#4:  Don’t forget the gratuity!  This is the one area that is often overlooked when splitting the bill.  Please ensure your tip is added to your final costs.  Once again, error on the generous side.

#5:  Don’t assume and/or take advantage.  Unless a member of your party generously offers to foot the bill, don’t assume your tab will be paid.  This scenario often plays out when parents or wealthy tablemates are in attendance.  Making an assumption that Mama’s Friday night bingo win is paying for your meal is rude and presumptuous.  Unless your age qualifies you for a kid’s meal, fork over your share of the pie.

Business situations require slightly different rules.  Frankly, I find the business lunch or dinner to be easier to navigate through than the typical social one.  This is due to the simplicity of the relationships and hierarchy rules.  If you’ve extended the invitation you are expected to fund the expense.  EXCEPTION:  If you are trying to solicit the other parties business, it is customary that you pay the expense.  In a large group, the most senior level employee should foot the bill on behalf of the group.

While these are all customary guidelines. don’t assume that your comrades are in the know.  Always be prepared to pay your share of the meal expense then tell them about a clever, little blog you’ve stumbled upon.

K. Martini

A Priest and a Rabbi Walk into a Bar: The Unscrupulous Joke

Posted on March 13, 2013

Most of us have one.  We have one member of the family, friend or acquaintance circle who is best described as “colorful”.  I am no exception.  Last Thanksgiving was especially meaningful.  For the first time in 25 years my entire extended family joined together for merriment, food and fellowship.  The youngest tot to the oldest patriarch united together under one roof for a day of loving chaos.  As the day progressed and the wine flowed, my “colorful” sibling became increasingly colorful.  Never one to restrain his gaiety (or his filters), I found we were about to enter forbidden and uncomfortable territories.

shock1Good taste does not have to squelch good humor.  Unfortunately, there are some folks whose joke telling stipulates that all those within earshot appreciate the expletives, vulgarity and/or blasphemy.  In this case, all three elements were present and accounted for.  The victims within earshot ranged from a four-year-old girl to a Japanese immigrant to an 80-year-old man in a wheelchair (with perfect hearing) to a woman with overly generous breast implants to a Catholic.  I think the audience pool was too rich for him to ignore.

Just like a major league homer, my brother hit it out of the park and proceeded to insult everyone.  Exception: The four-year old who learned new and wondrous words to share at story-time but was innocently spared from offense.

I realize those reading this will never reach these extremes.  You are elegant and filled with common sense even when your wine glass has been repeatedly drained.  For “The Others”,  I beg you to take heed of the following Faux Pas advice:


  1. Profanity is required to achieve the punch line successfully
  2. EVERYONE can’t enjoy the joke
  3. Personal weaknesses are used to produce a laugh
  4. Anyone is brought to tears or flushes of embarrassment
  5. Something sacred or revered by another person is the object of your joke
  6. The “Your Mama” joke is about someone else’s Mama

What do you do when someone has conveyed an inappropriate joke?  The best response may be no response.  You can effectively communicate your distaste by looking the offender in the eye without amused emotion and quietly walking away.  If the circumstance clearly warrants a comment, calmly stating that their joke was rude and offensive will do.

So, did you hear the one about…

A new pastor was visiting the homes of his parishioners.  At one house it seemed obvious that someone was home but no answer came to his repeated knocks on the door.  Therefore, he took out a card and wrote, “Revelation 3:20” on the back of it and stuck it in the door.  When the offering was processed the following Sunday, he found that his card had been returned.  Added to it was this cryptic message: “Genesis 3:10.”  Reaching for his Bible to check out the citation, he broke up in gales of laughter.  Revelation 3:20 begins “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”  Genesis 3:10 reads, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid, for I was naked.”

K. Martini 😉

Usernames: Not Just Another Moniker

Posted on February 16, 2013

You will never get the chance to regain a first impression.  This is a universal rule and can be applied to every situation worldwide including the virtual variety.  Usernames convey identity.  Your username is your brand, your stamp, your label.  It is a reflection of YOU.  The following list  illustrates just a sampling of the usernames I’ve encountered over the past 60 days.


As you examine each username above, close your eyes and call upon your own visual slide show to summon the image each one conveys.  I believe I’ve made my point.

K. Martini

Cortege Pageantry: The Funeral Procession

Posted on January 27, 2013

My Mother was often described as a “colorful” woman.  As a child, the term was innocently interpreted as a compliment.  As I reflect on these comments as an adult, I’ve come to understand that “colorful” does not necessarily equate to positive behaviors.  Life with my Mother was never boring.  At her core, she could best be described as a stereotypical southern lady in the body of a northern suburbanite.  Couple this with a tortured soul and closeted dependency issues and you have anything but boring.  While I could retell stories that would curl the hair of a bald man, I will restrain myself and provide you with a relatively tame example of a Faux Pas “don’t”.  First, let me impart you with some guidance on proper etiquette should you encounter a funeral procession (cortege) while on the road.

Should you encounter a funeral procession while driving, it is customary and oh, so respectful to pull to the side of the roadway until the procession has passed.  It’s easy to identify the cars included in the procession train as their car lights will be on, they will be traveling within close proximity of each other at a slower speed and there will be a placard in each window.  Occasionally, you may even witness a police escort at both the front and back of the train.  This makes identification easy.  When in doubt, wait it out.

If at all possible, do not break into the procession line.  In larger cities and on busier roadways this may not always be practical or safe.  Should you have to merge into a funeral procession, please detach yourself as quickly as is prudent.

Don’t honk your horn!  Funeral processions are typically allowed by law to proceed through red traffic lights and stop signs.  If the car ahead of you respectfully and lawfully yields to the traffic laws and stops at the light or sign, honking your horn as a gesture of encouragement to sail through is crude.  This is especially important to remember when Smokey Robinson is blaring from your car speakers.

Now for the story…

It was a glorious Saturday August afternoon in the northland; warm and sunny.  I had been to the mall with my Mother on our traditional pre-school shopping excursion.  I was to begin my third grade scholastic year in high style.  As was customary, our shopping spree ended with lunch at a five-star, “grown-up” eatery.  I was elated and apparently, so was my Mother.  Our ride home was joyful.  The windows were rolled down, the music of Smokey Robinson was blaring from the radio and bags of new duds were flapping in the backseat of our car.  As I remember it, my Mother enthusiastically began to tap the car horn in rhythm to “Tears of a Clown”, smile at the passerby’s and wave her hand in the manner of Miss America (elbow wrist, elbow wrist-wrist).  When I asked her if we were in a parade she declared that “Yes! We are in the middle of a cortege, darling!”.  Naturally, my eight year old self participated with grand and innocent panache.

So…in addition to the three good form rules outlined above, I believe we can take away a fourth lesson:  If your Mother asks if you would like to be part of a cortege, smile and graciously decline the generous invitation.  You understand the meaning of the word “cortege“, it’s good form rules and would prefer attending The Rose Parade.

K. Martini

“What have you done to yourself?” Comments to live by.

Posted on January 12, 2013

While statistics vary only slightly, it is reported that approximately 75% of us color our hair.  In the 1950’s the figure hovered around 7%.  Thankfully, the progression of science has allowed us the freedom to become more attractive while avoiding the chemical hair-fry and unintentional color disasters of the past.

I am not only thankful for the progression of science but am thankful that I was born with fabulous hair.  The good Lord blessed me with light, honey colored locks;  shiny, bouncy, thick and straight.  I am not boasting.  The good Lord also gave me legs with a 26 1/2″ inseam and a rack so large the girls can only be lifted with $150.00 bras.  One day I will understand His logic.  And His sense of humor.

While I was not a child of the 50’s, I was a child of the 60’s and 70’s.  It was not until the mid 90’s that I actively sought professional color assistance.  A few well placed highlights was all that was needed to ensure my confidence and locks maintained my high standard of excellence.  By 2006, more aggressive color therapy was required.  While I still do not need to disguise any pesky gray strands, a bit more sophisticated shading is needed to mimic my youth and assure my plucky poise.    This is of course, accomplished with taste and without any illusions that I will look (or should look) as I did in my early thirties.

Now for your Faux Pas lesson…

Which of the following would be a polite and proper utterance while in the company of a group or to anyone other than possibly your BFF or mother?  Please keep in mind that this applies to anyone who MAY have had “work done” but none-the-less looks splendid.

  1.  “What great color work!  That must of cost a fortune!”
  2.  “You look wonderful!”
  3.  “Did you have your eyes AND lips done?”
  4.  “Have you employed a personal trainer?  Your thighs are half their former size!”

ANSWER:  Option #2 is correct, appropriate and a lovely comment to make to anyone who looks improved (or at least better than the last time you saw them). Any other response is rude and will needlessly embarrass the recipient of your comment.


All personal acknowledgements should ALWAYS lift a person; NEVER deflate them.  If the self-improvement attempt did not actually improve their original state, then for heavens’ sake…keep your mouth closed.

You guessed it; this week’s lesson is once again born from experience.  I’m fairly certain that my culprit was not ignorant; just passively and aggressively rude on purpose.  Who can blame her?  I have gorgeous hair!

K. Martini

The Art of the Deal: Couponing

Posted on December 31, 2012

The holidays are behind us and our bank accounts have been “slenderized”.  ‘Tis the season for scoring a great deal.  In my house, everyday is the season.  My couponing craze began as a young, married mother of two  Money was tight in the early days while we established new careers and juggled tots.  What was born of necessity became an obsession driven by thrifty competition.  It’s was me against the retail establishment.  Or something like that.

While I don’t spend long hours in my pursuit of a great deal as I once did, you will still find a dedicated compartment in my wallet for valuable savings.  I simply love the the thrill of obtaining  rock-bottom prices.  If you’ve read some of my past posts, you might notice that I am competetive.  Typically, my competitive streak rears it’s (ugly) head during bouts of air hockey and rounds of Jeopardy.  While I’ve been temporarily banned from competing in either sport (a needed period of self-reflection), the couponing craze still offers an element of satisfactory accomplishment.

As with all of other areas of life, couponing offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate grace and good form.  Will it never end!?  Not while I have breathe in this body.

Rule #1: Don’t rip out coupons from magazines and newspapers you have not purchased.  Confession:  While waiting for my annual girlie exam three years ago, I happened upon an advertisement and coupon for a beautiful state-of-the-art fishing rod.  Although I am not a fisher-person, I felt an overwhelming urge;  I had to have it.  I tore it from the magazine and neatly deposited it into my jacket pocket for future use.  Aside from the obvious question as to why my gynecologist professionally subscribed to Field & Stream when his patients were overwhelmingly suburban females comes the question why I would tear out a coupon from a magazine I did not purchase.  I was temporarily insane, of course.

Rule #2:  Take only the products you need (aka: don’t take all the goods).  Please be a good sport and leave some bargains for the next thrifty hunter.  Not only will you shine with good form, the stores and product producers will greatly appreciate you!

Rule #3: Ensure you read the fine print on the coupon.  Honor the redemption restrictions and expiration dates.  In your quest for a deal, you must keep your wits about you.  Nothing says tacky like a customer trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a merchant then engaging in a haggling session at the register.

Rule #4: Leave the “peeler” (the little coupon sticker attached to the product) on the goods unless you are actually purchasing it the same day.  Yes, it can be tempting to rip it off for a future need but for heaven’s sake, those pickled pig’s feet will still be collecting dust on the shelf when you you need them.

Rule #5: Be pleasant and thankful to the cashier and to the other customers in the queue.  Have your coupons and form of payment at the ready.  Be mindful of the other customers on line.  If you have a cart-full of goodies and the guy behind you just one jar of pickled pig’s feet, graciously allow him to complete his transaction ahead of you.

Now…let the savings begin.   Happy New Year!

K. Martini

Oh, You Shouldn’t Have! Re-Gifting

Posted on December 15, 2012

 I’m reissuing a post I wrote in May due to the nature of the season.  With all of our lives filled with busyness and last-minute reminders of forgotten gifts, take a moment to pause and read (or re-read) etiquette guidelines for re-gifting.  I don’t know about you but as the days creep closer to Christmas and panic begins to set in, I find I must resist the temptation to wrap Grandma’s crocheted plant holder lovingly given to me in 1979. 

Happy Holidays everyone!

Re-Gifting.  This is a relatively new term for off-loading your loot to another person all under the guise of an original gift.  There are many justifiable reasons:  You want to be “green” and recycle, you don’t have time to shop, you need to make room for the loot you like or you are broke.  I appreciate thriftiness in any form but it can take a sudden turn to Tackyville.  Whatever the reason, there are hard and fast rules that will prevent a major peccadillo.

♥ Re-gift with thought and care.  The gift should be perfectly suited for the recipient.  If perfectly suited, proceed to rule #2.

♥ The gift must be new and in the original packaging.  Don’ t wrap a Walmart item in a Cartier box.  Save your donor the time and possible flush of embarrassment if they attempt a return.  With that stated, make sure the store of origin is still in business.

♥ Do not re-gift to your immediate social set.  Think six degrees of separation here.  Family and close friends are too close to the edge of an awkward scenario.

♥ Make sure the item is currently “in style”.

♥ If you must re-gift, do it soon after receiving it.  Unless you maintain a meticulous spreadsheet, the odds increase that you will forget who gave it to you originally.  I believe this is known as the Boomerang Effect.  The horror of re-gifting to the person who gave it to you would be hard to live down!

♥ If it was handmade, keep it!  This indicates significant thought and time went into pleasing you.  Somehow, this just seems wrong.

NEVER Give the Following…

Partially used gift cards


Weird things


Free stuff from last week’s business convention

Your monogrammed anything

So… whatever are you going to do with that beautiful polyester sweatshirt with the puffy painted puppies?  You could sell it on eBay or Craigslist.  You can donate it to charity.  You can use it as a drop cloth when you re-paint your bedroom.  You cannot treat your peeps to hand-me-downs.

We are six months from the holiday season.  This gives you plenty of time to collect, evaluate and execute with style.  I bet you’re asking yourself if I’ve ever re-gifted.  Actually, I have not.  It’s not because I’m not in favor of saving the landfills or a few bucks.  I think it’s because I receive really cool stuff I just can’t let go.  Like this for example…

Remember me?

Another Annual Tradition: The Holiday Letter

Posted on December 1, 2012


It’s hard to believe that another year has passed!  You just can’t imagene the many blesings our family has experienced in 2012.  Bob was promoted in July to the position of CEO.  After the many long and tireless hours he’s committed to the compnay over the past 38 years, we are enjoying a more liveable wage of $650,000 per year.  I just don’t know how we managed to get by on the pittance of just half that all these years.  Now we will be able to afford the procedure to get rid of his little “wart” problem!

Buffy just graduated Magna Cum Laude of her class at Yale.  She missed Suma Cum Laude by .2% and attributes the oversight not to her lack of God given skill but to the Chemistry professor who suffered 3rd degree burns due to her exuberance with the beakers.  Her Cotillion was a smashing success and the young men continue their pursuit of her.  We eagerly await the arrival of the baby in March.

Biff continues his athletic prowess on the football field.  Although in the 8h grade, he is aggressively searching for universities that will compliment his love of sports and new interest in Pharmacology.  We were thrilled to hear of this new found interest and only learned of it when I was cleaning his room and discovered an amass of small, white pills and a chemistry set.  We are so proud of him!

Our little Abigale is keeping us busy as well.  At only 20 months, our littlest “oopsie” is already exhibting signs of brilliance.  She can speak in what we beleive to be Mandarin.  Daddy has become “bad dah” and Mommy “craziemum”.  Isn’t that just the cutest?”

As for me, well…I remain delightfully content and happy serving my family.  I had the pleasure of extended “Me Time” ;ast August.  Bob was so encouraging and supportive.  He surprised me with a 90 day vacation to a lovely spa.  My room was decorated with calming hues of gray padded vinyl and the concierge lovingly locked my room each night so I culd bask in the zen like state of restrained peace.  The institution ranch was very popular among the celebrity set as Lindsay Lohan, Mackenzie Phillips and Tara Reid were familair faces during our “group time.  The best part was that Bob’s new insureance plan payed for the whole stay!  A big thank you to Bob!

We wish you all the best for a properous and joyful new year!  Our hopes and prayers are that you and your family are as blessed as ours.”

Holiday Letter Do’s & Don’ts


  1. Proofread, edit, spell check, repeat.
  2. Keep it brief; keep it humble.
  3. Be positive.
  4. Proofread, edit, spell check, repeat.
  5. Focus on events rather than achievements.
  6. Insert a  little humor.
  7. Consider your audience:  Co-workers and/or clients don’t want to read about your kid’s special achievements.  Consider drafting multiple letters to accommodate your audience appropriately.
  8. Proofread, edit, spell check, repeat.


  1. Share health related bombshells.  These can be embarrassing and uncomfortable not only for the person being written about but also for the recipients of your letter.
  2. Vent grievances.  Keep your gripes to yourself.
  3. Boast.  You are not better than anyone else.  You really are not.
  4. Share financial information.  Tacky.
  5. Overshare.  Please refer to point #2 under “Do’s”.
  6. Include embarrassing photographs.  A picture is a nice touch but keep it “generic”.
  7. Forget to proofread, edit, spell check, repeat.

Happy Holiday’s!  I’d love to hear your stories of holiday letters gone wrong!

K. Martini

The Takers

Posted on November 18, 2012

Perhaps the single most unattractive person in the world is one whose attitude and actions demonstrate a false sense of entitlement.  Unattractive because the accompanying behaviors of entitlement are always rude.  This person acts as though their needs and wants supersede all others.  They believe they have a right to demand.  They are owed.  They are not appreciative.  They are rarely happy and always selfish.  They are “Takers”.

We all know someone.  They can be neighbors, relatives, acquaintances, strangers or co-workers.

It is the brother who borrows money from you, fails to pay you back then gets irritated with you when you inquire.

It is the woman in the restaurant who berates the waitress for not taking her order quick enough.

It’s the party guest who only talks about themselves and neglects to acknowledge the others around them.

The adult child who assumes Mom and Dad will continue to fork over the cash and proceeds to get angry when the money train ends.

The neighbor who refuses to purchase the 25 cent lemonade from a child’s wagon because it’s “tacky”.

They are whiners.  They appreciate only those who acknowledge their perceived pain or discomfort.  That acknowledgement of course, only enables continued bad behaviors.  They are experts at manipulation and weaving half-truths with lies in order to elicit a reaction from others.  They thrive in the spotlight.  They lack inner security.  They take things for granted.  They are nearly always the victim.

There are no quick fixes or helpful hints to share regarding this affliction.  Only humility and self-awareness can heal through the fruit of pain.  What we can do is control our own reactions to bad behaviors.  If we fail to take their bait, we free ourselves from shouldering their responsibility.  While our failure to react will result in anger or resentment from the manipulator, it allows us to retain our self- respect and quite possibly, provide them benefit.
K. Martini

Me Time… at the Spa

Posted on November 12, 2012

“Taking joy in living is a women’s best cosmetic.”

                                                                                         Rosalind Russell

While Rosalind’s words ring true, a trip to the spa doesn’t hurt either.  There is nothing like a warm robe and blackhead free face to perk me up.  A trip to the spa is self-indulgence at it’s best.  Being a thrifty and (usually) practical girl, dropping a couple hundred bucks for an hour or two of pampering can feel irresponsible.  What’s ironic is that it feels irresponsible only upon arrival.  Upon my light-headed exit I am convinced that the ritual is a practical necessity and will become weekly rather than bi-annual.

Whether once a year or once a week, if you are headed towards self-indulgent luxury, keep these etiquette rules in mind:

Arrive at least 10 minutes earlier than your scheduled appointment time.  The time you’ve booked does not account for the changing of clothes, orientation, etc.  Don’t eat up your precious treatment time with preparation tasks.  If you are running late, make a courtesy call to the spa and give them a head’s up.

Leave your jewels and valuables at home.  While no one would have had the audacity to lift one of Rosie’s baubles, thieves can lurk about at spas as well as anywhere else.  Don’t leave temptations.  Most treatments will leave rings, bracelets, necklaces and other adornments coated in product.  Leave them at home along with your iPad and Louis Vuitton purse.

Turn off your phone!!!!

No fragrances, please.

Dress Code:  This is not a fashion show.  Wear comfortable (but not sloppy!) clothes.  This is also time to mind your behind (aka: Don’t prance about in your birthday suit).  Much akin to locker room behavior, some semblance of modesty is appreciated by all.

Beware of the TALKER:  On occasion, I’ve become the unwilling victim and personal therapist of my technician.  While I can appreciate the need to solicit another woman’s opinion on all matters of fashion or relationship skirmishes, it can zap the Zen-like experience like nothing else.  Should you discover that your technician is a chatterbox, it is perfectly acceptable to politely explain you were looking forward to a quiet hour of personal self-meditation.  Sometimes all it takes to quell the verbal purging is your silence.  If he or she does not comply with your polite request, make mention of it upon checkout.

Use your inside voice:  If your BFF or wedding party accompanies you, it can be hard to limit the shared urge to squeal with comparative delight.  Keep the decibel level down out of respect of the other patrons.

Beware of the up-sale:  Yes, you will be encouraged to purchase the $100 eye cream just used on your puffy peepers.  You will be encouraged to splurge on additional treatments not included in your standard service package.  These up-sells can be extraordinarily hard to resist and occasionally hard to identify.  My very first facial experience resulted in a cash outlay of $300 for a $75 treatment.  As I lay in my drunken like stupor with Yanni hypnotically playing in the background, I recall hearing the “hmmmmm’s” and “ohhhhh’s” of the technicians discovery.  Clearly, the condition of my face warranted immediate exfoliation, hydro-moisture packs and a Myotonology Micro-Current face lift.  I was worth it after all, right?  Right.  Keep your wits about you girlie!  Unless you can afford the added cost of such add-on’s, thank her for her attentive care of your derma and politely decline of the offer.

Tipping:  15-20% of the total cost of your treatment is standard.  Make sure you read the fine print on your bill, however.  Occasionally, gratuity is included in the final tally.

Go on and delight in your gorgeousness!

K. Martini

John Biffy Loo, Oh My!

Posted on October 31, 2012

Toilet, John, Loo, Lavatory, Restroom, Latrine, Privy, Commode, Potty, Throne, Chamber pot, Biffy, Outhouse, Powder room.

There are nearly as many words for toilet as there are people who use the various terms.  My mother called it the “Tinkle Room” which apparently was more delicate and ladylike than any of the other commonly used terms of her day.   My mother fell into the group who used cutsie references for the bathroom.  There is also the group that I will refer to as “Continental“.  These folks utter words commonly used in countries they do not live in (ex:  “Loo” = British ); cool wannabees.  And last but not least we have the “Roughians“. Those who insist on referring to the bathroom in the crudest possible terms hoping to elicit public outcries of shock.  Examples need not be provided – we all know the sort.


No matter your camp when it comes to any public presentation, please adhere to the following decorum:

Excuse yourself with nothing more than a polite “Excuse me, please”.  No need to explain your momentary departure.  Resist the urge to utter any cute, continental or roughian references for this essential function and the room in which it is executed.  Leave. Do. Do. Return.

Salut, et bonne route!

K. Martini

Corsages & Boutonnieres

Posted on October 15, 2012

If you really want to feel special, order yourself a corsage and wear it for no apparent reason.  You are not headed to the prom (thank you, Lord), a wedding or funeral.  You are not celebrating your 50th wedding anniversary, winner of the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes or named Pickle Salesperson of the Year.  You simply love you.

What a treat to be able to go about your day with the aroma and beauty of a fresh bloom or two.  This little luxury will only cost you a few bucks.  Much less than the cost of a bouquet which will sit on your counter while you spend the majority of your time away from it.  Cheaper than a manicure, pedicure, facial or trip to the shoe barn.  If you are one of the fortunate few who will receive a corsage or boutonniere from another person or need to wear one for a special event, here are your etiquette rules:

All corsages and boutonnieres must be worn on the left side only.  Why you ask?  Because if everyone wears their blooms on the same side, you will avoid the crush and mashing of petals when you hug or slow dance to “Color my World“.  If for some reason one of your party (crazy and uncooperative bridesmaid, pall bearer, usher, partner, etc.) is unable to fulfill their duty for left-side wearing,  ALL others in the same party should wear it on the same side as the one-off rule breaker.  This also applies for wrist corsage wearers.

Men:  If presenting a corsage to a woman, you must open the box and hand it to her.  HINT:  The moment when she first sees your gift will always elicit a delighted response.  Don’t rush that moment (aka: don’t tear open the box, rip apart the cellophane and toss it to her in one swift movement.)

Open the box.

Allow her to inquisitively peer inside.

Wait – beat one beat two beat three.

She will utter: “Ohhhhh, it’s beautiful“.

You are a stud.  You are a stud for that moment.  Relish it.

He was a stud 30 seconds prior to the flash of the Instamatic camera.

It is at this precise moment when the inevitable awkward moment presents itself .  You either fumble dangerously close to her chest with a long pin or hand it to her for self-pinning. What to do? Etiquette rules dictate that you hand it to her, her mother or nearby girlfriend to stick it to her.  How very gallant.  If Momma or the BFF don’ t happen to be part of this scene, allow her to pin it to herself.

Gentlemen, if you will be wearing a boutonniere, you must pin it to your left side as stated.  If you are wearing a suit jacket, it is to be applied to the button hole.  Always keep the flowers pointed straight upwards. (Sounds obvious but let’s not make any hasty assumptions).  Wish for your girl to handle the pinning task?  Perfectly acceptable in all social circles.  Your mother does not need to be present.

As for me, I’m headed to the florist to pick up my little treat.  Yes, it will bring on a flood of well-wishers and interested inquiries.  If this thought makes you anxious, then wear it at home on a Saturday and pin it wherever your heart desires.  Enjoy!

K. Martini

At the ATM

Posted on October 13, 2012

I am not a frequent visitor to the ATM machine.  This is primarily due to the fact I have little self-control over ready-at-hand cash.  If I have cash in my wallet, I can justify frivolous spending like no one else.  I’ve been able to tame my affliction fairly well however, there is the occasional need for cash.  One such occasion recently presented itself when I was required to present cash for an international money transfer I needed to place. You guessed it; faux pas inspiration reared it’s beautiful head once again.

It was a gorgeous fall afternoon.  68 degrees, light breeze and a sky full of sun.  The ATM I approached was situated outdoors and canopied with a small awning to protect from window screen glare and harsh weather elements.  10 seconds after I started my transaction I sensed an invasion of my personal space.  I glanced behind my shoulder and their stood a bedraggled 20-something girl-woman with a leashed,  jeweled-collared rat-dog  12 inches from my back.   I don’t generally have a personal bubble issue however; I do listen to my gut.  My gut was telling me not to punch my access code into the machine.  It was not raining or snowing.  There were no tornadoes or typhoons.  Why the need to snuggle?  I turned to her, smiled (of course), cooed at the rat-dog and canceled my transaction.  I asked her to please step in and conduct her business – I could wait.  After all, I did not have a dog to contend with.  She obliged after a brief exchange which included “I just couldn’t” and a not so gentle push for me to continue my biz.  I stepped aside, went looking for a Snickers bar and came back after she left the premises.

I did not necessarily get the impression that this was an elaborate attempt to nab my measly funds but my gut told me something was askew. I was uncomfortable.   The news will confirm what we all know.  Desperate financial times may call for some to take desperate financial measures.  I’m always happy to help anyone in need -just not by force or lack of choice.  In any case, when at the ATM, please exert good form by..

Standing back at least 8-10 feet when the machine is in use.

Limiting your number of transactions.  The ATM was created for quick and easy transactions only.

Refraining from inspecting another person’s transaction.  It’s none of your business.  Keep your peeps to yourself.

Being patient.  Some transactions take longer than others.  For those of us that don’t use these machines regularly, it may take a few extra moments longer than you would prefer.  Please keep your hurried frustrations quiet.  This rule also applies for the drive-up machines.  For heavens sake, do not flash your lights or honk your horn (either in your car or on your feet with your new smartphone app).  That is rude and obnoxious.

There you have it!  Easy, right?  Oh, I nearly forgot….please wipe the machine of all delicious, sticky, Snicker remnants upon exiting.




Posted on October 6, 2012

This week’s lesson: Nose Picking.  Basic human function with basic good form potential.  Let’s keep this simple…

  1. Pick your picker in private:   No one, NO ONE wants to witness this function.  No matter the audience or situation, when the urge strikes and you are visible to others, please refrain yourself and remove yourself.  Once in a private setting, go nuts.  This brings us to point #2.
  2. Use a paper tissue:  If you find the need to explore your nose at the dining table, kindly excuse yourself and move to a rest room for tissue use.  NEVER use a cloth napkin at the table for the job.
  3. Cleanse:  Wash your hands or at the very least use antibacterial hand sanitizer when you’ve satisfactorily accomplished your mission.  This is critical for one reason only; preventing the spread of germs.  Booger remnants have germs and there is no possible way you can convince me that you wiped it clean.  If that is not motivation for you to cleanse then picture this mental slide show:

You’ve been invited to a party.  You arrive and there standing across the room is THE ONE of your dreams.  After thanking the angels, you approach.  You move slowly as not to appear too eager and desperate but rapid enough so someone else does snap up your little treasure.  You near the personal space of your future spouse.  Warmly but excitedly you extend your hand to introduce yourself.  What you don’t know is that one hour before your fated meeting, he/she conducted the following activity:

Your prospect stopped at the gas station to fill up the tank.  After handing over $78 bucks for the fill and $2 bucks for a pack of Tic Tacs, he/she hit the drive-through for a quick Junior Whopper with cheese.  Sounds all well and good, right?  Not so fast.  Consider this:

62 people had wrangled their mitts on the same gas pump handle that day.  12 of the 62 adults had kids who attended the same birthday party that afternoon.  Five of those kids were in various communicable stages of the flu which included runny noses, commonly shared toys and a sandbox.  Due to the unseasonable hot weather, the sand box became a shared petri dish of unmentionable germ loving proportion.

The packet of Tic Tacs had been handled by 12 other people that day – one of which was an over-the-road trucker who hadn’t washed in three days, suffered from nose-crusting allergies and an apathetic attitude.

The fast food attendant had just been dumped by his girlfriend.  He spent the last three hours crying and blowing his nose with heartbreaking agony.  It was 6pm on a Saturday; busy time in the food industry.  No time to wash.

Good thing your beloved had the good sense to wash up after mining their own gold.

Pick in private

Use a tissue

Wash your hands

Magnificently good form

It’s (mostly) a pleasure to meet you: Introductions

Posted on September 29, 2012

I recently resigned from a company that I had been a part of for 15 years.  I was offered a position with another company that was just too good to pass up.  Being the new kid on the block comes with its perks and disadvantages.  The perks feel like Christmas morning and I’m the bright, shiny new present under the tree.  Everyone is welcoming and helpful as I navigate my way through the new organization.  The disadvantages come with the fact that I’m navigating my way through the organization and have not yet successfully memorized the organizational chart (aka: I don’t know anyone).

As luck would have it, my new department scheduled a social 1 1/2 weeks after my first day.  A nice little break from the stress filled workday was my opportunity to meet and greet my fellow colleagues.  As I bravely entered the social venue alone, I was surrounded by 75 people I did not know.  Naturally, my gregarious self began shaking hands and introducing myself.  These introduction were generally met with enthusiastic counter introductions and smiles.  I began to feel validated and part of the team.  I then noticed a gentleman off to the side and away from the center of the fray.  “Poor guy, he must be shy and uncomfortable with social interactions” I thought to myself.  I warmly approached him, stuck out my hand and introduced myself.  I was greeted with a reluctant handshake and nothing else.  I said “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”  He said “Richard” with an air of sophistication and a hint of offense.  Not easily dismissed I smiled and said “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Richard.  What area of the department do you work in?”  He said “My last name is Assholee“.  I was left standing there red-faced and tongue-tied with embarrassment.  Not because I’d committed a faux pas but because this guy’s response was rude and I was left uncomfortably wondering what my next move should be.  Of course the names have been changed to protect the innocent – ME.  I’d like to keep this job for at least another few years.  What I got from him was a plate full of arrogance and shock that I did not immediately recognize that he was the CEO.  Apparently, it should be obvious that anyone who introduces himself simply as “Richard” should be assumed to be the CEO demi-god, Dick.  Understand, that this guy was a middle-aged white guy with a gut and a wrinkled shirt.  If he had been tall, African-American with the first name Barack, I’d have connected the dots appropriately.  The org chart does not include pictures.  Something for the corporate suggestion box.

Manners and general good form are not exclusive only to the lower and middle tier folks of society.  They apply to all stations in life.  Frankly, the self-proclaimed demi-gods of the world should be held to a higher level of courtesy expectation as their positions typically come with the added responsibility of leadership.  As leaders, they are expected to set an example for the rest of us therefore, they are not excluded from the club of etiquette.

Appropriate introductions are easy to employ.  As long as you are not a diplomat or work in the wonderful world of politics, the following guidelines will do for you:

Men are introduced to woman.  Example:  “Dick,  please meet Jane”.

Age and rank supersede.  Those who are older and/or of higher rank are to be named first in all situations.


  1.  Interrupting a conversation – wait for a more appropriate time for the introduction.
  2. Making personal comments  aka:  inquiring about their illness, pending divorce, deaths, their ugly dress, etc.
  3. Addressing only one person in a group.   Include all parties in the conversation.  This is easily accomplished by making brief eye contact with each person as you re-tell your tale.
  4. Don’t overtly look around for an escape or something more exciting to happen. Stay engaged until you have a polite route of escape.
  5. No drama. Ever. Even if you are being introduced to Ryan Gosling.  If you gush, we all will be embarrassed for you and Ryan will roll his eyes once he escapes to his Maserati.

If you find yourself in a situation similar to mine and you don’t know a soul, be brave and warmly introduce yourself to the available folk in the room.  You will appear confident and self-assured; both attractive qualities.  Can it be uncomfortable?  Yes, but it beats idly standing on the sidelines feeling like the girl not chosen for kickball.

You would think my real life example was an isolated incident.  It wasn’t.  It happened while I was employed with the company I just left.   Similar circumstances, similar title,  different gender, same name.  Dick.

Take the time to remove your halo, muster up some humility and don a smile of greeting.  We are all peeps trying to get along in life the best we can.  Your greeting has an impact.  Make it a good one.


Game Play: Testing your knowledge of nothing

Posted on September 15, 2012

I like games.  I like all forms of games especially air hockey and Jeopardy.  It is said however; that I suffer from a bad case of Tourette’s Syndrome when I play.  This condition has warranted first aid for bloody injury and frowns from fellow players due to random verbal expressions of cursing.  For me, a perfect evening might be comprised of a large, padded room free of inanimate objects, an air hockey table and a big screen TV where I could play both air hockey and Jeopardy simultaneously.  The problem with this scenario is that I would be alone as no one I know shares my enthusiasm.  I am competitive.

This week’s Faux Pas lesson will be contained to the play of knowledge games i.e. Trivia Pursuit, Jeopardy, Outburst (ironic), etc.  As with most areas of civilized society, game playing comes with its own set of good form rules.  Let’s try and balance competition with fun shall we?

Contrary to the competitive player’s natural thought pattern, this is not the time to exhibit gloating or bragging rights.  Bear in mind that not all of your partners share your affliction and may, in fact, be frightened.  No one desires to be judged brainless.  In the event you have taken the lead and have successfully displayed your astute gift of knowing insignificant fodder (you are winning), heed Lesson #1:  Be humble. Don’t show-off.  You will be a respectful winner.

Lesson #2:  Never give up.  If you find yourself losing to a more worthy opponent, do not throw the game or quit playing.  That tactic is reserved only for 6-year old children.  You clearly have miscalculated your opponent’s skill level.  Your bad judgement should not lead to anything other than words of praise for their intellectual prowess.  WARNING:  There’s a dark horse in every group.

Lesson #3: Don’t curse or use vulgarities.

Unlike traditional card or board games, games of knowledge are difficult to cheat at.  If you’ve played the game countless times and strike gold with a repeated question you know the answer to, graciously admit your lucky draw and request another.  Everyone is aware you don’t know the answer to:

Q: The word hockey may be derived from the old french word “hoquet”.  What does “hoquet” mean? 

A:  Shepherd’s crook.  Duh.

Lesson #4: Don’t cheat.

Executing poor game playing form will only magnify your weakness and could leave you without future opponents.  The primary purpose of collective gaming is enjoyment in companionship and community.  If all parties are to gain the same level of enjoyment it is imperative that we exude our best form.

Party on…but not without me.

K. Martini


Posted on September 8, 2012

In my lifetime, I’ve known three individuals within my circle of friends, family and acquaintances that could clear a room within 15 seconds.  This uncanny ability is not due to any phenomenal skill other than the uncontrollable human affliction of noxious gas expulsion.  It so happens that this community of peeps is of the male persuasion and find the act uproariously entertaining.  I’ve yet to understand if the hilarity is due to embarrassment, reactions elicited in the nearby victims or a flaw in the gender.  Either way, blatant offenses such as these need to be addressed.  While your vapors may seem whimsical and sportive, you will not win points from the sitting ducks in the room.

The following Faux Pas rules apply to all regardless of gender.


Your body naturally provides a warning signal.  IT DOES.  Heed the warning and kindly exit the room prior to release.


Do not giggle like a schoolgirl.  It is sophomoric.


Should you not heed the warning of Toot Rule #1 and you discharge your aroma in public, don’t apologize.  Merely say “Excuse me”.  This must be uttered with sincerity; not with exaggerated drama.


You have approximately 15 seconds before gas meets air.  20 seconds if you happen to be wearing pants.  Should you ignore Toot Rule #1, you still have a small window of opportunity to escape to a safe (devoid of human life) location.

I could go into granular detail on toots in elevators, toots at work, toots at the theater, etc.  I won’t.  Let me instead leave you with this nugget of wisdom:

” A peace is of the nature of a conquest; for then both parties nobly are subdued and neither party loser”. 

William Shakespeare

Bill was obviously a polite tooter.

K. Martini

The Art of the Air Kiss

Posted on September 1, 2012

I know what images are dancing around in your head.  Young Hollywood starlets, “Want-to-be-Famous-for-Nothings”, The Red Carpet.  While the rise of American celebrity continues to plague us with ridiculous demonstrations of artificial behaviors, it is the air kiss that holds genuine promise for sincerity if executed properly.

Although it might be assumed that this cultural phenomenon originated in Hollywood, its inception actually dates back more than a century ago from countries far, far away.  It is hard to pinpoint the exact location but it’s safe to claim that air kissing was not invented by the Housewives of Orange County.  These gals may only take claim to re-imaging the air kiss into a disingenuous and hollow greeting.

Let’s begin our lesson with the Five W’s: Who, What, Where, When and Why.

Who:  Only people you know.  Don’t attempt this move on strangers.  Don’t attempt this move on your closest kin.  The air kiss is reserved for the community of peeps that fall into the “I know you and mostly like you but haven’t seen you in a coon’s age”.

What:  A sincere acknowledgement that you are delighted to see the person again.  Actually,  you don’t have to be delighted to meet their acquaintance again, just don’t be depressed to see them again.

Where:  Essentially anywhere but this move is usually demonstrated in public.  I just know there is a joke in here somewhere.

When:  Upon greeting or departure in a social setting.

Why:  Because a handshake would be too formal and a lip lock too intimate.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s tackle the How-To’s.  Successfully accomplishing the air kiss with social flair requires you execute three easy steps:

  1. Enthusiastically greet the person by their name.  If it’s actually been a coon’s age since you’ve seen them and you’ve forgotten their name, “It’s so good to see you” will do.
  2. Gently and loosely grasp your victim’s arm and lean in towards their right facial cheek.  Executing this move with a broad smile is best.
  3. Move your right facial cheek towards their right facial cheek (facial cheeks may touch), purse your lips and smack the air.  Sound effects are optional.

A word of caution:  You will need to quickly assess the situation for appropriateness.  To test this cautionary hint, I recently conducted a scientific field test.

While attending a wedding last weekend, I was thrilled when I saw many familiar faces who I hadn’t seen in years (a coon’s age).  I was also thrilled that I was provided with a timely opportunity to employ and test my methodology.  These former close friends and acquaintances consisted of both men and women in assorted age categories.  Four subjects were tested and the following results were tabulated:

Subject #1:  Female – Age: 23:

Only test subject to utilize sound effect “Mwah Mwah” upon execution.  She was clearly familiar with the greeting type and in fact, appeared excited to demonstrate her prowess.  While executed perfectly, test subject’s age illustrated her familiarity with “Sex and the City”.  Genuineness of greeting is in question.

Subject #2: Male – Age 26

  Test subject initially appeared confused and uncomfortable by my air kiss attempt.  He rapidly gained his composure and indulged my earnest address.  I believe this became a teaching moment albeit a little “Mrs. Robinson”.

Subject #3: Female – Age 44

Test subject comfortably reciprocated and clearly understood the air kiss by demonstrating a flawlessly returned greeting.  No sound effects were detected.

Subject #4: Male – Age 60

My air kiss attempted greeting resulted in confusion and a kiss on the lips.  I assumed this test subject was confused by the exchange style however; it may have been his reputation and alcohol consumption that I miscalculated.  I did look fine after all.

RECOMMENDATIONS: This type of greeting is not for everyone.  You will need to size up the situation on the fly and make an instant judgement call.  If in doubt, fall back to the more traditional acknowledgement of a handshake or a loose, carefree hug with a pat on the shoulder.

I wish to thank all of my test subjects for their sacrificial contributions (except for Test Subject #4).  Your names will be held in confidence and will not be released to the public (except Test Subject #4)   It is my duty to forewarn other fine looking ladies of lechery.

Dare to smooch the air my friends.

K. Martini

Napkin (aka: Face Wipe, Nappy, Smacker Dabber)

Posted on August 24, 2012

NAPKIN: A diminutive little device used to wipe your mouth and hands while eating.

  If you happen to live in Canada,  Australia,  South Africa or the U.K., you may even refer to this handy little wipe as a Serviette.  If you are American, please refrain from using that term as you will appear pretentious which would be a separate faux pas than we are addressing here.  At the least, you will appear foolish especially if your dinner companions are wearing camo and/or are donning a mullet hairdo.

So be it paper or cloth, there are specific etiquette guidelines for napkin use.  Please note the following pointers:

  • Place your nappy in your lap when seated at the table.  Days of yore dictated that the guest wait until the host was seated before lapping the nappy but let’s not get mired down by ancestral details.  Unless you are an invited guest to a White House State Dinner, place your wiper in your lap when seated.   NOTE:  Do not tuck your napkin into your shirt collar or belt buckle.  This is reserved for lobster feasts and country corn feeds only.  It is also allowable for the elderly or handicapped.
  • Blot your mouth – don’t sweep or broadly wipe.  It is not a wash cloth.
  • Wearing lipstick and using a white linen napkin?  Do your host a kindness and blot your smacker on a tissue prior to your meal.  This will alleviate your host’s cloth from excessive stains.
  • When mealtime concludes or upon leaving the table, deposit your loosely folder device on the table to the left of your plate.  No need for a refold which can be a relief if your host performed an origami folding masterpiece.

Bon Appetite!

K. Martini

Indispensible Words – time for a re-run

Posted on August 18, 2012

It is time for a refresher.   If my recent experiences are any indication of the evolution of civility, then I’m forced to start near the beginning with a repeater.  Please read and forward the following message…

Indispensable is a five syllable word that nicely compliments today’s posting; The Five Most Important Words in the civilized world.  Actually, I’ve been blessed to travel all over the world and know these words have power everywhere; even among the non-civilized.  What are they you ask?  Since it’s been awhile since we attended Kindergarten, I will provide a little refresher.

  1. Thank-you
  2. Please
  3. I’m Sorry
  4. Excuse Me
  5. You’re Welcome

Expressing appreciation is the trademark of civility.  We either throw “thank-you” around willy-nilly or neglect to say it at all.  Thank you should be said at the smallest kindness and with true sincerity.

Any request not made with a  “please” attached may be construed as an order.  You get more with honey that with vinegar.

Saying “I’m sorry” is demonstrative proof of maturity. Be mature, please.

“Excuse me” is the most underused courtesy of all.  It means you are aware that you have inconvenienced someone.  Excuse me while I go on a rampage…

To the three women who cut in front of me while I was reaching for the all-natural peanut butter in the grocery store on Saturday, I would of appreciated an “excuse me”.  

“You’re welcome” is an easy acknowledgement of the appreciation expressed to you.

Thank you for reading this.  Please excuse me if I’ve offended you.  I apologize.

SuperMarket – Small Civilities

Posted on August 10, 2012

Another recent excursion to the grocery store yielded not only a bargain on my favorite yogurt but a wealth of Faux Pas topics.  Yes, it was a trip to Crazyville.  While an abundance of themes eagerly await my purging, I will relate the following tidbit:

Whose responsibility is it to place the partition bar on the conveyor belt?


Whoever is in the front of the queue nearest the cash register.


To keep each person’s lot separated from the other.

Possible Reason Ramifications:

Cost  (aka:To avoid paying for and coming home with someone else’s delicious blood sausage or extra absorbent tampons.)  This is only an issue if you are a menopausal vegan on a restricted budget.  No matter your lifestyle, no one wants to foot the bill for someone else’s loot.

Be a sport and gate your goods as soon as there is room to do so.  Allow enough room for the person behind you to begin their unload.  It may be difficult for the person behind you to reach for the bar so do the guy a kind gesture – partition your goods.


Find a cooler word for the conveyor belt grocery bar divider.

K. Martini

Gentlemen – Flip your Lid

Posted on August 4, 2012

“Cock your hat – angles are attitudes”

                                                                          Frank Sinatra

Once upon a time, men and their hats were divided into two camps: in one camp, a hat was worn for function, the other camp wore a hat for style.  With the passage of time,  distinctions and functions have faded.

While our culture continues to become more casual with each generation, I believe that all men have had one desire throughout the millenniums: to be respected.  Second desire: to be cool.

Gone are the days when a young man was taught how to flip his lid respectfully.  Every once in a great while we might be privileged to witness a demonstrated example and when we do, nearly all of us stop and take pause.  We take pause because the small gesture (when exhibited correctly)  is subtle and rare.  When successfully accomplished, we are left with an impression.  An impression of breeding.  We want “it”. We may not have been born with it but we can fake it.  How does a chap maintain his swanky self and gain respect at the same time?  By learning to manipulate his chapeau.

Gentlemen, let’s start with the basics.  At the risk of offending, I’m going to tell you that if you are over the age of 18 and are not employed by the Red Sox, ditch the baseball cap.  Keep it for your fishing weekend of you must but please don’t wear it in public.  You look ridiculous.  You’re welcome ladies.

For the gents that wear a hat as a fashion statement, you can up your groovy factor if you remove your hat when:

The National Anthem is playing

At the formal mealtime table

Funeral processions

When the national flag is passing by


These are timeless and simple displays of respect.  If you really want to get crazy, follow the timeless examples of professional lid poppers and keep the inner lining towards your body leaving only the outside showing.

It’s no longer required that you remove your fashionable hat in a casual public establishment.  But….if your happen to be wearing a cowboy hat, bowler, sombrero, Mongolian fur hat or heaven forbid, a baseball cap,  take it off.  In the truest sense, those are designed more for function than style.  If in doubt, remove it. Except if you are Tim McGraw.

Most holy places (churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, etc.) may or may not dictate the removal of your headgear.  Regular attenders will know the proper protocol.  If you are a visitor, ask a member or take notice of what your fellow gender is doing.  Men and women may have differing protocols.  Again, if in doubt, remove your millinery and place it in your lap.  If you are wearing a baseball cap, deposit it in the collection plate with your 5 bucks.

Here’s the occasion that always puts a grin on my face and flutter to my heart when I see it.  It’s when a man stands and removes his hat upon the entrance of a women.  I think the last time I witnessed this was in the movies but the effect is still the same; dashing.  It is an act of refinement and gallantry.  Fellas, I challenge you to try it.  When you do, keep your eyes fixed on the lady.  The reaction will be priceless (and free).

Now that you’ve been awakened to the finer points of hat etiquette, take a daring but trusted leap to the sensational.  Doffing.  While traditionally British, doffing involves just a mere gesture but elevates you to Frank Sinatra (Pre-1968) coolness.  Doffing is just a slight tipping movement.  When you meet a women or need to excuse yourself while in the presence of any gender, slightly lift your tam o’shanter off your forehead.  This is to be demonstrated with subtlety; it is not a grand gesture.  Try to conger up images of your Texas cowboy counterparts for a mental slide show.  Think Tim McGraw.

So…grab your chapeau, stand in front of your mirror and ponder on the men who know how to leave a mark.

Samuel J. Jackson

Johnny Depp

Indiana Jones


Walter White (Season 2 Breaking Bad)

Justin Timberlake

Don Drapper

Bruno Mars

Humphrey Bogart

Al Capone (Bad guy who really knew how to wear a hat)

Dean Martin

Robert Redford as Gatsby

David Beckham


Ohhhhh…..Ahhhhh…..Swoon.   The End.

Sack Time – The Guest Bed

Posted on July 26, 2012

I have an affection for the term “sleepover”. It conjures up childhood images of girlie overnight stays complete with giggles, Pop Tarts and feeble attempts to stay up until dawn.  A majority of the time we would camp indoors with tattered sleeping bags lined up in rows.  This obviously made the morning clean up easy – roll and go.  As an adult, I’m happy that overnight stays with friends have graduated from bag to bed.

As a good house guest, how should we leave the bed we’ve just slept in?  Be it couch or bed, here’s the best advice:

If sheets were used, remove them from the bed, neatly fold them and deposit at the foot of the bed.  Pull up the remaining bedding so it appears neat and made.


Questions & Answers


 Do I need to re-make the bed with fresh sheets?


Ask your host.  Close friends that stay overnight frequently could ease their regular footprint by freshly remaking the bed but follow your host’s direction.


I woke up on the couch.  I was in the same clothes I arrived in the night before.  What do I do?


You scan the immediate area for possible remnants of rowdiness.  If physical evidence exists from your stay, clean it up and leave the sofa in the same condition you found it in, if you can recall.  Make your host breakfast, pop an aspirin and get your tail down the lane of shame.  As least you will have left in reasonably good form.


Pop Quiz

Posted on July 20, 2012

This is “Open Book” style.  HINT:  All of the questions below have just one correct and honorable answer.  Can you find the exception?  You will not be graded.

You’ve received an invitation to a Flag Day party.  The invitation is addressed to you.  You really want to bring your five-year-old son.  You will:

  1. Bring him along.  Clearly this was an oversight.
  2. Find a babysitter.
  3. Call the host and ask if you can bring him along.

It’s the 4th of July and you are going boating with friends.  You are very popular as you’ve been boating every weekend this summer on a different lake.  You have some leftover bait from May that is making a stink in your refrigerator.  You bring it along and do the following:

  1. Use your worms to catch “The Big One”.
  2. Deposit the dead worms into the nearest designated trash receptacle.
  3. Empty the contents into the lake – it’s free fish food.

You walk into the break-room at work for a mid-day cup of joe.  Your boss confidently strides in behind you.  He seizes the opportunity to corner a co-worker and retell in vivid detail the highlights of his colonoscopy.  You immediately:

  1. Post your resume on
  2. Assume the quiet and humble Mona Lisa grin while silently plotting your escape back to your cube.
  3. Join in the fun and contribute your mammogram exam story.

You decide it’s time for a change.  You drop $150 for a salon visit that’s left your hair looking like Ronald McDonald.  You will:

  1. Leave a 20% tip for the aesthetician who brow waxed you to hairless perfection.
  2. Leave no tip for the hair stylist and a comment for the manager.
  3. Leave a 25% tip to everyone who touched you because you don’t want to appear cheap.

You’ve been asked to be Maid of Honor for your third cousin’s sixth wedding.  She’s already chosen your dress.  It will set you back only $625.00.  She is having 15 attendants & seven bridal showers.  The last time you saw her was at the family reunion 10 years ago. You are not chummy.  You should:

  1. Accept the honor begrudgingly after checking the balance in your 401K.  She needs you.
  2. Thank her for thinking of you but you must politely decline.  Your new job will not allow you the time to support her properly. Whew.
  3. Run and change your phone number.

You are at your son’s soccer tournament.  Your son is an athletic phenomenon.  The referee does not seem to notice his genius and ejects him from the game for purposely tripping an opposing player.  You are dumbfounded.  You must:

  1. Charge the field and challenge the referee.
  2. Keep your mouth shut and let the kid suffer the consequence for his action.
  3. Congratulate your son for aggressive prowess and buy him a snow cone.

You are sitting at the dining table of a friend who just spent two days cooking a beautiful meal for you.  No cost was spared which is apparent from the amount of seafood in front of you.  You hate seafood.  You will:

  1. Politely push your plate aside and tell the host you detest seafood.
  2. Smile, be gracious and eat what you can understanding the time and cost your friend invested for you.
  3. Ask the host if he would call Pizza Hut.

It’s 5:30pm on a Tuesday and you’re getting your sweat on at the gym.  Your heart is a flutter but not from your treadmill pace.  You spot HIM. The Herculean specimen has not caught your ogling but you’re sure that another 45 minute run spent close to him will catch his eye.  You must:

  1. Hog the treadmill until your arches collapse or he asks you to share a smoothie.
  2. End your treadmill run, wipe down the machine and move promptly to another.
  3. “Accidentally” spill your water bottle contents on his Nike’s to capture his attention.

If you happened to choose answer 1 or 3, do yourself a favor and review some of Faux Pas’ previous postings.  This could prevent you from becoming the next blogging victim or better yet, could prevent you from causing offense to someone else.


Colors of Rude

Posted on July 14, 2012

As I see it, rude behavior comes in a rainbow of colors.  Each color signifies a degree and intent.

BLUE: Unintentional

Basically, these types of folk offenders just don’t know any better.  While they may not have grown up in a barn, they were either not taught otherwise or missed the lesson.  These types of offenses are easily forgiven.  Example:  Your mother-in-law audibly slurps her Earl Grey tea and uses her dinner fork to scratch her back at the dinner table.  These offenses are not meant to hurt and are not directed to you.

ORANGE: Disguised or Unconscious

Orange faux pas’ could be divided into two camps but the degrees are the same.  Generally, these are illustrated by people who are oblivious to their own rudeness.  It might take the form of a back-handed compliment:  “I like your new car but why did you choose THAT color?”  An unconscious example is the single guy who sits in the only six-person booth at Subway leaving the mom with five kids to scatter her brood amongst three, two-person tables.

RED: Aggressive

Red’s are the aggressive types of behaviors that are personally directed to you.  You receive the middle finger flash from a 16-year old in a souped up Camaro who you’ve obviously offended by driving like Miss Daisy.  I can usually tolerate these types of stings.  It’s the second version of RED that makes me nuts.  Example:  You learn that a fellow work colleague has taken credit for something you’ve done.  They simply don’t like you.  This action could also be termed ” disguised aggression” because they always pretend to like you publicly which, depending on your action, can make YOU look like the jackass.  These are the Honey-Dripping-From-Their-Tongue-While-Concealing-A-Dagger-Behind-Their-Back types.

BLACK: Offensive

These souls elicit “Oh, GROSS!” and “I can’t believe she did that!” types of responses.  These are the peeps your Mama warned you about and who likely grew up in a barn.  Some examples would be the girl who bares her breasts at the Packer game so she can appear on the Jumbo-Tron screen.  The guy who blows his nose on the sidewalk without using a hankie or the uncle whose rich vocabulary is not censored in front of your three-year old.

While the degree or intent vary, all color types constitute rudeness.  They hurt or offend another person. While we may not be able to control the actions of others, we CAN control our responses.  Usually.  Occasionally, the dirty deed happens so fast we can’t respond quick enough or with the perfect comeback.  I always land on the perfect response however; it’s usually a day late.  Sometimes, we are forced to make a quick or calculated counter.  These comebacks are what divide the civilized from the uncivil.  I’ve been in both comeback camps and can tell you that the civilized camp is much more comfortable.  It also means that you may have to dig deep in your attempt to take the high road.  WARNING The high road is not the easy road.

Take a deep, cleansing breath and size up the situation.  Much of the time, it’s better to let the offense slide than it is to take action.  If the offense was not directed to you, sometimes a dramatic eye-rolling will suffice.

No tit for tats.  Don’t return the wrong behavior with the same, no matter how tempting it may be.  You will look like the jackass who just offended you.

Look in the mirror (metaphorically speaking) and walk in their shoes (also metaphorically speaking).  Examine yourself for anything that you may have done to spur the bad act.  Is there something going on in the other persons life that could account for the peccadillo?

Interject some humor.  Smiling and retorting with humor is a benign way to deal with The Blue’s, some Orange’s and a few Red’s.

What if you’ve been Blackened or victimized by a full-out Red attack?  Sometimes, remaining silent with a Mona Lisa smile just won’t cut it.  No matter the offense, a Faux Pas veteran will remain poised and in control.  After taking a deep breath and surmising the situation, your retort will depend on the environment. Whether at the workplace or out and about in public, the perfect response will be composed.  It will not be sarcastic.  It will demonstrate to the world that you have class but what they’ve done is not OK.  You will not lose control  escalating the exchange and potentially jeopardizing your safety.  Trust me, this is much harder to accomplish than letting “it fly”.

Time for a story.  Once again, do what I say and not what I did.

15 years ago on a hot and muggy 4th of July weekend, I was golfing with a group of friends.  Because our individual skills varied (aka: I was a bad golfer) we broke into groups to allow the better and faster players to sail through preventing back-ups (good form).  My group consisted of three players including myself.  A fourth player was automatically added to our group by the club manager.  Let’s call the fourth player ‘Richard”. While my skill level was novice at best, my golfing attire was top-notch.  I looked like a pro.  It became clear about the time we hit the third tee box that Richard was frustrated with my level of play and my fabulous outfit was only a disguise.  Mind you, I was trying harder to prevent a course back-up than I was concentrating on my game (second good form attempt). Richard began to indulge his temptations to coach and ridicule.  It began with back-handed compliments such as “We all can’t be good, honey“. to more overt rudeness such as loud exasperated sighs during my swing.  By the eighth  hole, Richard’s rudeness escalated to his phone.  He was loudly retelling the details of my game, play by-play to his friend.  There was laughing involved.  My attempts at good form took a sudden and ugly turn.  In my embarrassment and frustration, I calmly (last good form act) approached him, grabbed is phone and threw it into the pond.  The three seconds that lapsed from throw to tantrum was filled with satisfaction and exhilaration.  I had successfully gained revenge.  The adrenalin I was momentarily enjoying quickly evaporated when Richard launched into a full-fledged freak out which gained the attention of every golfer on the course.  I looked like the offender and Richard was the innocent victim before the world.  My embarrassment took on new form – not one that was nearly as comfortable just three seconds prior.  I immediately regretted my action.  I had engaged in a tit for tat and sunk to Richard’s level of rudeness.  My calm was not controlled and I found myself ashamed.

We will never be able to eradicate the world of rude conduct although I’m giving it my best shot.  We can hope that the next expression of uncivil behavior will not be directed to us personally and if it is, we will stand tall and be proud we handled it will aplomb.

For all you golfers out there, rest assured that you will not see my cute and stylish self on the golf course.  I’ve decided to take up archery instead.  I’m told that it’s tough to miss your target’s.

K. Martini

At the Gym

Posted on July 8, 2012

Several years ago, frustrated with the cost of owning a health club membership, I invested in a home gym.  My uncanny ability to justify any purchase usually begins with the words “It will save us ____dollars!!”  The dollar amount is universally inflated which nearly always closes the deal.  My husband and I embarked on a room renovation with the zeal and enthusiasm of Jillian Michaels.  While I’ve not verbalized the final cost outlay to anyone, I think it is safe to assume that we could have retained our gym membership until we were well into our 90’s and still had money left over for the next justifiable purchase.  I am now the proud owner of the countries sturdiest and most expensive clothes line.

I have to confess that the cost of the gym membership was not actually the root of my problem.  The honest truth is I just could not stomach the inconveniences or public displays of rude behavior any longer.  Without further ado, let me indulge you with some gym etiquette tips:

Contain the chit-chat.  Friendly greetings and abbreviated conversations are fine.  Bending the ear of a fellow exerciser can be disrupting to the workout and the other members.  This also applies to the flirty banter with the guy that has super pecks.  While the gym might be great potential dating ground, keep the come-on and ogling discreet and brief.

→Please wipe down your mat and equipment after use.  Aside from the potential health ramifications, landing on someone else’s sweat is icky.  If you believe that your workouts don’t produce any offensive sweat or germs, you would be mistaken.

→If the joint is jumping (typically before and after the standard workday), be respectful of your time use of the equipment.  Many health clubs have a rush hour time limit for the popular machines.  Be respectful of the club rules and if you see someone waiting for your abductor machine, kindly complete your workout and hobble on.

Pick it up.  Keep towels, water bottles, weights, etc. out of the foot path of others.

→While it may be tempting to leave the weights on the leg press at a comfortable-for-you 300 lbs. (so that the world can see what a stud you are), please reset all machines prior to exit.  This is a time-saver for the next person and just good form.

→Turn off your cell phone ringer.  I’m begging you.

→Deodorant?  Yes. Perfume?  No.  The titillating aroma becomes more pungent as you heat up.  To avoid allergic reactions or sensitivities to your fellow workout mates, please arrive to the gym scent free.

Personally, it was general locker room behaviors that finally ended my gym affair.  I’ve never been an exhibitionist when it comes to nudity.  While I don’t expect anyone else to share my conservatism, I do expect respectful conduct by all.  With this in mind, please heed the following:

I realize that nudity is often required for showering however; naked jaunting about so the world can see your junk is tactless.  Nudity in the locker room is acceptable if kept brief.

→Keep your eyes at eye level.  If you do encounter a jaunting about nudist, simply look away and mind your own business.  The cause of their need to romp about could be simple ignorance or it could signal a need for attention.  Remember the words of your Mama ” Just ignore them and they will go away”.

→Take your kids to the Family Locker Room if one is available.  It won’t guarantee a shield from shock but your odds are better here than the general room.

Clean up after yourself

→Watch where you sit

→Clean up after yourself

My husband and I are now in need of a spare guest room and craft space.  Do you have any idea how much money we can save by converting the home gym?!  😉

K. Martini

The Dropped Call

Posted on July 5, 2012

“Can you hear me now?”

“Hello, Hello?”

“Darn it I hate this phone!”

This is the traditional litany of the dropped cell phone call.  Neither partner ended the call voluntarily.  You still have the juicy bits of the conversation to convey.  You look contemptuously at your phone and momentarily wonder if he/she is going to call you back or if you should re-engage the call.  Hmmmmm.

Rule:  Whoever initiated the call is the person who should make the call-back.

Easy Peasy

K. Martini

Shoo Shoe

Posted on June 30, 2012

God has blessed me with many gifts.  Thankfully those gifts include legs.  My legs are fully functional in that I can get from point A to B without issue.  My gene pool however; did not donate leg length.  Vanity forces me to visually extend what my gene pool did not by wearing shoes with heels higher than a flip-flop.  This fact does not pose any inconvenience with two regular exceptions:  Hiking in the woods and having to remove my shoes at the door of a home I’ve been invited into.

While my vanity can remain intact comfortably in the woods, it takes a hit when (as a good and humble house guest) I feel obligated to deposit my lifts at the front door upon entry.  Once removed, I am compelled to walk around on tip toes to avoid my pant legs from dragging on the floor.  I could live with this if I was Elle McPherson or if I wore dresses.

So as not to commit a peccadillo and pose any inconvenience to my host, I immediately embark on the following in rapid sequential order:

◊  Scan the local area surrounding the threshold to see if there are shoes deposited.  Initially, this COULD signal that the home I’ve just entered mandates removal of all manner of footwear.  If visible footwear consists of snow boots, galoshes or golf spikes and it is neither raining, a winter month or a club house, I MIGHT be in the clear.

◊  I do not see a “Please Remove your Shoes” sign.

◊  I review the floor coverings in all areas easily seen from my current vantage point.  Tile, wood (real or fake) or any other hard flooring service MIGHT allow intrusion.  Carpets, especially pale in color nearly always signal bare tootsies.

◊  Take note of the other feet.  If the host or most of the other guests are donning shoes, BINGO.  I am probably safe wearing my wedges.

The fact of the matter is, the home you’ve just graced with your presence is not your house.  Respectful guest behavior dictates that you oblige whatever house rules apply.  If after quickly assessing the situation you are still in doubt, kindly ask your host if she would prefer that you remove your’ penny loafers.

I have on occasion brought a back-up, indoor friendly pair of footwear to replace those I’ve worn crossing the doorway.  This is tricky.  It’s a hard sell convincing anyone that you’re 3″ shoebooties are indoor wear only.

As a host, it is also your obligation to make your guest comfortable.  Exercising some flexibility with your shoe rule might be in order.

As for me and my house…my floors are dressed in stone and wood with a minimum of carpeting.  Whatever you wear as you enter my castle, you are welcome to wear during your stay.  I have a mop.

K. Martini

The Handshake: It’s a Pleasure to Meet You

Posted on June 24, 2012

Somehow, there is an irony in the fact that you can gauge a personality by a handshake.  I believe that a handshake is a barometer of confidence.  There are as many variations as people.  Limp and loose, exact and firm, clammy and oppressive, combative and intrusive.  I’ve yet to shake the hand of a successful woman whose grip is woefully limp and damp.  I’ve not shaken the hand of a leader whose effective grip was curtailed by a weak sense of self-worth.  This is not to say that an effective handshake signals a healthy ego.  Sometimes, we just have to fake it.

Whether a social or business environment, a proper handshake will commence an impression.  Let’s kick-off our imprint in a positive light!

  • Step 1: Introduce yourself. 

                                         Verbally introduce yourself while looking your target in the eye.

  • Step 2: Extend you hand
  • Step 3: Grip

This is neither the time for a power struggle or limp lady-fingers.  Grasp the hand of your partner in much the same way you would grasp a door handle.  Use your entire hand.

  • Step 4: Pump 2-3 times from the elbow

Remember, this is supposed to be a respectful and brief gesture.  This is not the time to demonstrate your developed pecks honed by years of Tai Bo workouts.  It is also not the time to hang on and pump endlessly signifying you might be weird.

  • Step 5: End the shake after 3-4 seconds

If you feel as though you would like to hang on longer and prolong the physical intimacy, consider taking them out to dinner and a movie.

OK….you’ve executed flawlessly.  You’ve demonstrated a healthy dose of confidence and sincerity.  What if you’ve received one or more of the following in return?


A Two-Hander

A mitten

A Lady-Finger

If you’ve just been left with a palm full of sweat, resist the natural urge to immediately wipe the residue on the closest dry surface possible.  While uncomfortable, you must try to avoid embarrassing your handshaking partner. WAIT.  Only when the coast is clear may you discreetly dry your hand.  This might also be the appropriate time to take your potty-break and head to the sink for a quick wash & dry.

The Two-Hander is often referred to as the “Politician’s Handshake”.  You’re hand has been encapsulated by not one but both hands of the shaker.  While I’m certain this might be acceptable at the Democratic National Convention, it is never appropriate with anyone other than a close friend or acquaintance.  You’ve been bumped artificially.  Move on.

You live in Canada.  It is February.  Your neighbor is trying to kick-start their snowmobile.  You approach and are greeted with a handshake covered in deer-hide.  Is this acceptable?  Yes.  Unless icy temperatures prevail, kindly remove your hand-covering prior to shaking.  The other tolerable circumstance might be at the opera where your fellow shaker is wearing opera gloves.  This happens to me all the time.

And last but certainly not least.  Your hand has been victimized by the 3-finger, placid, seemingly spineless Lady-Finger shake.  This is singly the most irritating handshake on the planet – to me.  Ask yourself the following questions before making a hasty judgement:

1.) Are you south of the Mason-Dixon Line?
2.) Are you attending a ladies cotillion?
3.) Are you attending the back-stage party at a “My Fair Lady” theatrical opening?

If you answered “no” to all of these questions, you my friend, have been clutched by someone who just might be suffering from poor self-esteem.  At the least, you’ve been delivered a message that says “I am the inferior person in this exchange”.  This is neither good nor bad but it always elicits a rise in my throat that I have to stifle.  I am always tempted to shout to my exchanger “PLEASE, exhibit some evidence of self-worthiness”!  But I don’t.  I smile with the sincerity of Mona Lisa and say “It is a pleasure to meet you”.  And I mean it.

K. Martini

I Like your Dog

Posted on June 19, 2012

I don’t love your dog.  Before you get your hackles up, let me preface that with a disclaimer.  There are pet people and there are non-pet people.  My husband and I fall into the latter category.  Don’t get me wrong, we love the idea of owning a pet because we like animals.  We desperately want to be members of the pet club association and in out hearts, we are.  Our last attempt into the prestigious club of dog ownership forced us into our reality.  We owned a sweet and lovable bichon who we temporarily lent to my brother while we moved into a new home.  Upon return, our sweet, curly, brown bundle returned our love by sprinting to the door and crying for three days; for my brother.   His days apart from us were spent being catered to at all hours of the day and night.  Twice daily walks and home cooked sausages at midnight were only some of the luxuries he enjoyed while away at doggie heaven.  We, on the other hand, would make vacation plans only to realize the day before departure that we had a dog we neglected to plan for.  The fact of the matter is I don’t enjoy picking up dog poo from the yard, incurring debt with the vet or being interrupted from American Idol to pull my Jimmy Choo’s from his jaws. I lied. I don’t own any Jimmy Choo’s; I own Ugg slippers.  Either way, the inconveniences outweigh the benefits for us.  I’m sure all the domesticated animals of the world are heaving a collective sigh of relief.

So…let me reiterate.  I like all animals (except cats). I don’t love owning them (especially cats). Part of my crippling shortcoming could be attributed to some unfortunate circumstances of my past.  If you haven’t guessed by now, a large part of Faux Pas blog creation is due to personal events.  None of them positive.  Without further ado, let me impart you with some etiquette advice directed to pet owners:

  1. Please don’t bring your pet to your guest’s home uninvited, especially for an overnight stay.  16 years ago some dear friends crossed our threshold for a three-day visit from out-of-state.  They brought their 15-year-old black lab that was missing an eye, needed daily skin scab removal and had bladder issues.  In addition, it had an anger management problem and did not like kids.  We had two kids.  After three days, we were left with three broken doors, yellow carpet, enough black dog hair to knit a sweater and two kids who suffered from post-traumatic stress.  Our guests never extended an apology or offered to repair the damage.  To say this changed our relationship would be an understatement.  You get the idea.
  2. If your dog poops publicly, pick it up.
  3. If you see someone ignore their dog’s poop, kindly (please see the post “Cheerful Stupid”) hand them a plastic bag.  I’m sure the offender will get the hint (the owner not the dog).
  4. Keep your pet on a leash.  Keep it under six feet especially when on crowded sidewalks and streets.
  5. Control barking.  Uncontrolled barking is not only a nuisance but it can frighten unnecessarily. Mostly, it’s just flat-out irritating and rude.
  6. Give your dog etiquette lessons!  Your dog’s understanding of the basic commands will yield countless benefits for you and the public.
  7. If your dog is not an official service dog, PLEASE do not bring them into a public building.  If you must have your pooch with you at all times, consider a dating service instead.
  8. Do not allow your dog to be touched without permission.  This is especially important around excited children.

I’ve yet to come up with strict etiquette rules for hamster, gerbil, fish or ferret owners.  Cat owners are a breed unto themselves and best left for another time.  I say this with love as I was once a cat owner.  Not a good one.

If you implement good pet owner form then I promise I will never own a dog again (or fish, ferret, pig or anything else that could be tamed for civilized pleasure).  You and you alone have the power to save the domestic pet population. I thank you.


Cheers to you! Toasting

Posted on June 14, 2012

The heavy traffic of wedding season is now upon us.  Fond memories of weddings past conjure up images of kisses and toasts.  Many times the former is a direct result of the later. Ad nauseum.  I have not pinpointed the reason why this bothers me.  The reception room is filled with the cheerful clinking of glasses by utensil, groom kisses bride, bride kisses groom.  All I can ever think is “please, just let them eat!“.  I have no idea where this custom originated but am hoping that it is contained and quickly eradicated the world over.

Aside from the dollar-dance, it is the lack of toasting know-how that disgruntles me.  Toasting is not unique to weddings of course so the following simple rules apply to any occasion:

If you happen to be the person to whom the toast is hailed, please do not drink.  Do not clink your glass.  Simply smile and nod your head graciously.
When a toast is made to someone other than yourself, raise your glass for the duration of the toast and sip while making eye contact with those seated around you.  You do not need to clink your glass with another person.  This tradition originated a couple hundred years ago to ward off evil spirits.  If you think you’ve been seated next to Linda Blair at your sister-in-law’s cousin’s wedding (and who hasn’t), then pray the evil spirits away.
Please keep your knife for cutting the dry chicken breast and your spoon for the ice cream.  Do not use your eating utensil for incessantly pinging your glass in an effort to witness exhaustive couple smooching.

Now…about that dollar-dance.  Don’t do it!  This little tradition is tacky and akin to nothing less than the exploitation of your guests.  Even worse, it is reflective of the world’s oldest profession (you know what I’m referring to).  Let’s keep the bridal image as it should be. Pure and innocent.  I realize this might be a stretch for some but let’s allow her this image for just one day, shall we?


K. Martini

For the Love of the Game: Parental Sportsmanship 101

Posted on June 8, 2012

My son was a competitive hockey player from the time he was three until 18 years of age.  These years were dedicated to many long hours in ice arenas, camps, private lessons and tournaments. Many thousands of days were spent in the pursuit of his hockey enjoyment.  This does not take into account the dollars spent and politics we suffered through.  A missing element of instruction was noticed about the time he reached eight years of age.  At that age, the youngsters were able to skate independently rather than in packs.  They had fully grasped the rules of the game and started to realize the thrill of winning and the glory of individual achievement.  As we all know, hockey is a team sport.  As with any other team sport, there is an element of individualism.  There are the stars:  the fastest, strongest, highest scorer.  There are also the mediocre players and the bench-warmers.  With each kid came a parent.  This is where the great divide in instruction and sportsmanship became most apparent.

We as parents all secretly hope that our kid will become the next “Great One”.  Not one of us would have admitted it publicly but we all hoped for it in secret.  There was at least one mental slide show of our child obtaining sports history accompanied by a Nike endorsement which allowed you to quit your job and buy a candy-apple red Ferrari.

Most of the parental figures knew how to behave publicly but some did not.  No one was handed an etiquette instruction book at the beginning of the season.  There were a few feeble attempts by coaches to tame the shrews but I suspect this was to keep the shrews off their backs.  Parents can be brutal on coaches.  With vivid memories still haunting me years later, I write this for all parents of kids involved in competitive activities.  I suggest you print a copy of this and hand it out at the next game.  Better yet, give copies to the coach to hand out.  He or she will be grateful for the reinforcement. The following pointers apply to all sports and recreational activities:

  1. IT IS JUST A GAME.  The game is supposed to be fun.  Enjoy yourself.  When the fun stops, so will your child.
  2. Cheering:  Keep it in check, root for the whole team and never use profanity.  All cheering should be positive and encouraging.  No screaming or exaggerated celebrations – you will look like an idiot and embarrass your child.
  3. Do not coach from the sidelines.  Let the coach, coach.  Your side line leadership can be confusing for the child especially if your instruction contradicts what the coach is trying to teach.  If you can’t seem to control yourself, apply for the job and do it yourself.  Otherwise, zip your lip.
  4. Do not argue with the coach or referee...EVER.  Bad call?  Tough.  Was your kid pulled from the game?  Tough.  Life does not always seem fair.  Too bad.  Please review point #1.
  5. Stay off the field.  Unless your child is competing for the chess club, there’s a good chance they will get injured at some point in their athletic quest.  If the injury is serious, you will be summoned.
  6. At all games and practices you will refrain from:
                                      Drinking alcohol
                                      Showing off your Smith & Wesson

This point may be obvious however; in my children’s pursuit of athletic recreation, I’ve witnessed a father who attended all games with a Big Guzz of Jack Daniels,  a mother who smoked her Lucky Strikes behind the player’s bench and one Uncle Dick who flagrantly waived about his conceal and carry gun license in an effort to intimidate the referee.  Not kidding.

7.   Leave your pet at home.  We all don’t love your dog.

8.  Never comment negatively about any kid.  Nothing can kill parental harmony quicker than a critic.  If you open the flood gate of negativity, it will spread like poison.

9.  Congratulate your child after every game – win or lose.  I’ve witnessed more heart wrenching scenes than I can recount of parents who berated their child after a game.  You might think you are instilling values and lessons that are helpful. They are not helpful or valuable.  They are instant ego busters.  Please review point #1.

10.  Do not be disappointed if your child wants to try something else.  Not every game is for every child.

Above all, you are a role model.  While bad sportsmanship can spread like poison, good sportsmanship behaviors can have the same impact.  Stay calm and sparty-on my friends!

Instant Messaging – Not instant gratification

Posted on June 3, 2012

Last week I performed the professional faux pas of faux pas’s.  Let me expound…

I work for a large, global firm but have the luxury of working “remotely” (code word for home office).  My work days are spent on the phone in conference calls and on the computer conducting all matters of business.  My days are long and it is not uncommon for me to feel guilt about having to leave my desk for a restroom break.  I’m still working on the work/life balancing act but I digress.

Last week while on a conference call with a fellow colleague and a customer, I did it.  I committed a whopper of a pecadillo that is still leaving a flush on my face.  I unwittingly sent an Instant Message (IM) to my fellow comrade- in- arms while collectively speaking with our customer on a conference call.  I was also doing what I do best, I was multitasking. What I momentarily failed to recall in my multitasking fog was that my distinguished co-worker was electronically sharing his screen with me; and our client.

For those of you who have not audibly gasped yet, it might be because you do not realize that instant messages are visible to anyone viewing your screen.  The horror of what I had just discharged only became clear the instant I saw my message on my colleague’s screen.  I did not send a love note.

On behalf of all those who IM or email for work or leisure, I beg you to execute the following good form suggestions:

→Send your recipient a “ping” prior to launching your full IM message.  A “ping” is an innocent little tickler that signals to the message recipient you wish to communicate further.  Wait for them to acknowledge your ping before typing your intended message.  Yes, you guessed it; I did not ping my co-worker prior to full message launch.

→Set your availability status to “Do Not Disturb” or log out completely if you are busy and do not wish to be disturbed.  These settings will prevent incoming messages from being delivered.

→Keep it short.  Long messages are better left for direct conversation or a standard email.

→Keep the smiley faces and other emoticons for only those folks you are close to.  These types of characters may be too casual for the working environment.

 →Don’t IM or email anything that you wouldn’t like the whole world to see.  This includes clients.  Honoring this  point alone could save you from the desire to jump from the nearest cliff.

I would love nothing more that to be able to justify my poor form action but I can’t.  I was operating with all my faculties and fully knowledgeable of instant messaging etiquette.  I have no excuse other to blame myself.  One final thought for your consideration:

  →Take a moment to reflect on the message you wish to convey prior to hitting the send button.  As we tire, become excited, angry or irritated, we can quickly lose sight of our compass direction.  Don’t let your momentary state overcome your good form (or your dignity).

I am still employed as far as I can tell.  I received my pay check as scheduled.  There is no greater teacher than the lessons we learn from our mistakes.  I hope you learn from my hard knock.  Misery loves company…I’d love to hear your IM/email horrors!

If you were “let-go” due to a recent faux pas incident, there may be an employment opportunity for you soon  🙂

K. Martini

The Call to Duty – Maid of Honor 101

Posted on May 31, 2012

“A dame that knows the ropes isn’t likely to get tied up.”  Mae West

The wonderful world of wedding season is upon us.  For some, this means excitement and joy, for others it signifies relief from the abyss of planning purgatory.  Having personally survived many weddings (my own as well as my children’s) and being witness to countless others, I feel it is my duty to right the ship on Maid of Honor duties.

Ladies, if you have been honored with a request to be a Maid or Matron of Honor, you’ve essentially been called to duty.  Don’t panic.  This is a job for the tenacious; the tough; the strong and forcible!  YOU CAN DO IT!  Here’s how you can do it with style…

Perhaps the most important role of your mission is to be a constant support for the bride to be.  There will be tears of panic and exhaustion.  You will be an encouraging soldier of steel.  You will dig deep to offer laughter and sensitive ear.  As the chairwoman of dictatorship, you will be orchestrating all the ladies into action.  You must ensure that dresses are chosen, party details are communicated, bridal showers are planned.  You will attend all fittings, tastings and coordinate all behind the scene activities.  Exhausting?  You bet it is but you will handle all these tasks with aplomb and with a smile on your face.  Don’t feel like smiling?  Fake it.

The big day has arrived.  You might think your duties have concluded.  They have not.  Get your rest and down a Red Bull sister.  All your hard work has culminated into a grand finale.

Your job on the big day will consist of a whirlwind of tasks and details.  This is not a job for the faint of heart.  You must ensure the maids in waiting adhere to the schedule of events, get their hair and makeup done and distribute the flowers.  You will handle all these tasks simultaneously while championing the bride.  The ceremony begins.  Now you are thinking that your mission has been fulfilled. Wrong again.  Down another Red Bull and smile.

You will arrange the bride’s veil and train, protectively hold her bouquet during the vow swap and safeguard the groom’s ring until the deed is done.  Done?  Nope. Smile.

You proceed with the signing of the marriage license, act as a hostess at the reception, ensure the bride eats and dance with the Best Man and other groomsmen.  You will collect the gifts and eloquently deliver the speech you spent months preparing.  You are everything to everybody.  You are a woman of steel and have just earned the distinguished Medal of Honor.  Your tasks have qualified you to run any American boardroom.  While you may not be able to add this to your resume, you certainly can rest assured you’ve proudly demonstrated your loyalty and friendship.  You sacrificially given the best part of yourself solely for the enjoyment of another.  That is noble, good and right.   The best part…you will have handled this with such grace and efficiency, everyone will want you to be their M.O.H.  You get to repeat the whole experience.  Yippee.

I’ve personally never been called to action as a Maid of Honor and I confess, I am relieved.  I have however; been summoned to the role of flower girl three times and enjoy the minimal responsibilities that come with that role.  The flower girl is a mascot of sorts.  She appears only when needed with flowers in hand.  That’s the appointment for me.

“Duh” is not a word

Posted on May 28, 2012

Our culture embraces intelligence and beauty.  It is a hard fact of the world we live in.  We “fit” into specific social circles or we don’t.  You might say that you don’t care but that would be a lie.  We all want to be admired and respected.  The formula for good social form at any level is an easy one;

love and respect yourself.

Demonstrate it by dressing and speaking as though you do.  People make instant judgements based on these elements.  If you dress like a slob, you will be viewed as such.  If you speak idiotically, you will be viewed as such.  I am not saying you need to become someone you are not. I am saying that you need to be the best you can be to achieve the highest possibility for success.


Clean up your language skills.  PLEASE stop speaking as though you were a 14 year-old at the mall!  You don’t know how?  READ. Read a lot and then read some more.  Don’t re-gift the Word-of-the-Day calendar you received last Christmas – use it!

Observe those that perorate (look it up) with dignity and command the attention of others POSITIVELY. This doesn’t include mimicking the women on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette.  A solid short term goal is to avoid sounding as though you were a Valley Girl who just left a three-day fraternity kegger.

You are a WINNER not a WIENER.

K. Martini

Tipping #2: It’s a Hair Thing

Posted on May 19, 2012

Ask any woman in America who “does” her hair and you will be provided with a monologue.  It will be delivered in much the same way a spy cryptically delivers the formula for the H-Bomb.  It will be divulged quietly and abruptly.  If you are a close, personal friend you will receive more information than if you were merely an acquaintance.  After all, we don’t want the world to learn of the magic hands we’ve studiously searched for.  We found the prize and we don’t want to share. He or She is ours.

10 years, 6 weeks and 3 days ago I was forced to painfully re-enter the stylist search.  “My girl” decided to bear children and become a stay-at-home mommy.  I can still feel the panic rise in my throat when she broke the news.  I had six weeks.  I was being let-go.  My panic took on a life of its own and I dove to the depths of faux pas shame; I begged her to let me come to her home so she could continue keeping my coif in tip top fashion.  Yes, I am ashamed.

Back to the street I went, searching high and low for another master.  After six weeks and three days, I figured I’d throw the dart to a reputable salon and see where I landed.  A bad haircut was better than the grow-out.  I got lucky and have been a devoted follower of Melissa ever since.  This, my friends, is from a woman who thinks hair is hair and a bad cut will grow back.  For those of you who treasure your locks more than I, the agony worsens.

The rapport we have with our stylist’s is unique.  While a service industry, there are few professions that can compare to this one.  Would you ever consider confessing to your waitress at IHOP the same juicy tidbits you confess to your stylist?  I don’t think so.  You have a bond not unlike that of a marriage;  It’s privileged, confidential in nature and built on trust.  So, how do you reward your guru of hair magic?  By tipping.

Here are some general guidelines for the good, the bad and the ugly:

15-20% is the norm range for a good headdress.  This is taken from the total amount pre-tax (if applicable).  I know of some women in large cities (NY, LA, Chicago) who tip as much as 25%.  Opinions abound on the optimal amount.  My personal feeling is that a job well done deserves at least 20%.  While the total cost of beauty does not come cheap, try to remember that you re building a relationship.  If the total cost exceeds what you prudently feel you can afford, look for a less expensive salon option.  Good stylists can be found at every price point.

Tipping well can afford you some added perks.  Last year I needed to attend a last minute business conference.  Putting my best head forward was important.  The visible root exposure would have left me feeling less that professional.  My stylist generously accommodated my polite but urgent plea and squeezed me in despite her full schedule.  This would not have been possible if I’d been an average or sub-par client. She was rewarded accordingly.

Some of you frequent establishments where the duties are separated: Shampooist, colorist, stylist.  For those situations, tipping separately is ideal.  $1-$5 for the shampooist (the higher amount if you are treated to an extra treat (neck massage, ultra-lux conditioning, etc.).  15-20% for the colorist and 15-20% for the cut.  Unlike the food industry, tips are not generally separated by the stylist.  Indicate your tip amounts when making payment.

So…what if your stylist leaves you looking like Chewbakka?  Tipping 0-5% is permissible for the hair disaster.  But, dry your tears my dear.  Nearly every salon will try and rectify your coif.  If they are unable to satisfy your disaster, requesting a refund is acceptable.  If they refuse to refund payment and you still look like Chewbakka, well, it’s time to hit the streets and begin the hunt.  FYI…if you tipped the first round it is perfectly acceptable not to leave a tip for the attempted repair.

What if you have an adorable pixie that requires maintenance every 4 weeks?  For frequent cuts that total the annual cost equivalent of a Bentley, it is acceptable to reduce your per time tipping to less than 20%.  The exact amount is up to you but don’t dip below 10%.

Peccadillo avoidance’s

  1. Arrive on time or several minutes prior to your scheduled appointment
  2. Stay off the phone!
  3. Don’t come sick
  4. Sit up straight and don’t cross your legs.  Believe it or not, hunched posture or crossing your legs can alter the cutting quality.  Give your stylist every opportunity to ensure your do is perfect.

It’s been 10 years, 3 months and 6 days since I found Melissa.  We’ve shared many joys and sorrows of life.  While she’s not indicated a departure from the profession, I’m contemplating building her a house next to mine just in case.

Happy Pruning!


Cheerful Stupid

Posted on May 15, 2012

A few years ago, my daughter was describing a situation she caught herself in unwillingly. She was involved in a friendly conversation at work with several of her fellow nurses.  It was friendly only on the surface as one of her colleagues clearly had an axe to grind with another nurse.  As the axe wielding colleague gave way to temptation and verbally assaulted the other, the rest of the group was left with their mouths agape and an uncertainty on what to do.  The nurse receiving the tongue lashing politely handled the situation with noble composure and professionalism.  No rescue or interference was required.  It also would have been professionally unwise.  The rest of the group stood there with an expression my daughter aptly stated as “Cheerful Stupid“.

I love this term.  I can’t possibly recount accurately  the number of situations where this term has been applied unknowingly.  It is most comfortably applied to those uncomfortable social situations where someone is making a donkey’s rear-end of themselves and there’s nothing you can do about it.  It’s nearly always inappropriate.  All you are left to do is kindly smile; almost grin (not too wide) and don an expression of innocence with just a hint of sympathy. Just a hint.  You must remain composed.  After all, this does not concern you.  You have been unnecessarily victimized.

You are remaining Cheerfully Stupid all the while your brain is silently shouting at them to shut their pie-hole.  You are silently begging them to regain any remaining self-respect they may have left before they burn in flames.

This is what your expression should mimic:

So…the next time you find yourself in an awkward social situation without an avenue of escape or requirement to rescue, don yourself an expression of Cheerful Stupid.  This my friends, is a faux pas sidestep.  It is a wonderfully polite dance!


Something Smells Fishy

Posted on May 12, 2012

My daughter and son-in law love to fish.  With two of their own tadpoles to tend to, they don’t get to take advantage of their hobby as often as they’d like.  Although I don’t personally share their passion for angling,  I’m often privy to their occasional rant.  The diatribes generally involve dramatic reenactments of those who bend the rules on the water making the merriment of fishing miserable for all the others.  The diatribes should be saved for the retelling of the size of the fish and the extreme and heroic efforts taken as the battle was won.

In our neck of the woods, fishing is a year round sport.  This may be obvious except for the fact that from December to March the available fishing holes are covered by an iceberg.  Imagine the joy of drilling a hole in six or more inches of ice at -20F with all parts of your body covered in high-tech thermal wear.  Sounds like fun doesn’t it?  While the fishing faux pas’ abound in the winter months, it seems to me that they become exaggerated in the warmer waters.  Strap on your waders and feel free to respectfully convey the following good form tips to the faulted before they become bait for bass.

No Wake Zones

No Wake Zones do not refer to the areas of the water where you must take a nap.  No Wake Zones are the areas of the water that require a boat to SLOW down to ensure courtesy and safety is extended to others.  Waves created by speeding boats in shallow waters can not only disrupt the enjoyment of other fishing folks but could cause serious injury to people, other water craft and marine life.  If that doesn’t incent you to slow down then maybe a big, fatty fine from the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) will.

Beaches & Sunbathers

Stay clear of beaches and sunbathers.  Watch for the “floaties” – inflatable lounges drifting about.  This point is self-serving as I’ve been known to drift aimlessly and far from shore thoroughly engrossed in the latest beach read.  I was nearly sawn in half (ala: David Copperfield) by band of young lake pirates drunk on life and Coors.  They were carelessly cruising through the water listening to Garth Brooks and not paying any attention to where they were motoring.  They missed shredding me by 5 feet.  Granted, I was further from the beach than I should have been but how can you blame me?  I was reading “The Notebook” and audibly sobbing; completely oblivious to the noise of the oncoming hooligans.  Who’s accountable here?  We are were…everyone needs to be alert and observant.

Do not use the water as your personal landfill

Keep trash, old fishing line, used bait, etc. out of the water.  These are considered pollutants.  Give a hoot; don’t pollute.

Keep your bait native to the regions you are fishing

Introducing bait you used in Biloxi, Mississippi to the lakes in Lutsen, Minnesota may cause irrefutable, long-term damage to the Eco-system.

Don’t encroach

Stay clear of other anglers’ areas.  Once you locate your own sweet spot, keep your time there limited if the waters are crowded.

Bone up

Learn what fish are in season and the catch limit amounts.  Adhere to them strictly.   The DNR can add-on to that big, fatty fine you received for the No Wake Zone violation.

Yes,  good form is applicable to all manners of human behaviors and past times including fishing.  If you happen to be one of the elite who fancy fishing in the extremes of winter, let me know what peccadillo’s you’ve experienced.  While we might learn something useful for our future fishing adventures, we will most certainly applaud you for your winter time fortitude!!

Happy angling


The Invitation: Sans Child

Posted on May 9, 2012

This posting will be painful for some of you, but necessary.  Please try to remember that what does not kill you just might make you stronger.  At least, it will enlighten you.  Ignorance might be bliss but it isn’t if you step on the toes of another person.
You’ve received an invitation. You’ve studied it for hours.  The invitation does not list your child by name nor does it mention that children are invited.  The invitation may be in written form or verbal; it does not matter.  The rules apply for each scenario.  What do you do?  In the midst of your bewilderment you will recall these words:  THEY ARE NOT INVITED. 

You are now plotting…

You are considering bringing your bundle of joy, toddler of terror or terrific teenager anyway.


You are plotting again…

You will call the host and ask if you can bring your child.  This was clearly an oversight.


Bringing an uninvited guest (including your little darling) to an event is rude.  Period.  Calling the host and asking if you can bring them puts your host in an awkward and uncomfortable position.  You, as a Faux Pas Professional will not even consider these options.  You will do the following:


1.) Arrange for child care OR

2.) Politely decline the invitation.  You will do so without passive-aggressive techniques or long, drawn out explanations.


But what if your babysitter cancels at the last-minute?  You may think this is the opportunity you’ve been secretly hoping for! Hope springs eternal after all!   Now, you can go to the event and bring your child!


Again, being the Faux Pas Pro that you are means that you will call the host and politely explain the situation; thank them for the invite but you will not be able to attend after all.  Even if the host tells you that “it’s ok” you will remain firm!  Now for the but…

If your host is adamant that you attend with your child in tow, well then,  you may consider it.  Before you do, please consider if the event is appropriate for your child before accepting.

CONGRATULATIONS!  You are now enlightened.


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