Airport C.O.P. – Phone Call Faux Pas #2

Posted on May 6, 2012

I’m self-appointing myself a C.O.P. (Cellphone Opposition Policewomen).  I don’t have a badge yet but this is the mental picture I have of myself.  I recently returned from a business trip where the business took five hours and the time spent in the airport, 14 hours.  There is nothing glamorous about business travel.  What awaits the weary business traveler is bad food, long lines, security checkpoints, erect nap times and personal space invasions.  I can muddle through all of these with a minimum amount of whining.  What I cannot seem to overcome however, is my hypersensitivity to cell phone usage in the airport.  This cannot be overstated.

I personally chose to carry a regular cell phone.  It is not a smartphone.  It does not take good pictures or have “Slim Shady” as a ring tone option.  As I see it, there are at least two upsides to this.

  1. Cheap
  2. I can’t check my email from it which means I can’t conduct business activities on it.

When I’m at the airport my time is spent reading or playing Sudoku.  As relaxing as that sounds, it is not.  My hypersensitivity alarm inevitably sounds due to the person who’s ego gratification has not been fulfilled.  They are the folks who MUST conduct all matters of business in as loud a voice as possible in the most communal space they can find.  You find yourself journeying with them and learning more than you care to know about this complete stranger.  Sometimes it actually makes me uncomfortable as though I’m an interloper.  Most of the time, I’m just annoyed.

The fact of the matter is I just don’t care.  I don’t care how many widgets your division sold in the second quarter.  I don’t care if your administrative assistant forgot to change the ink in the printer.  I don’t care if your five year old wore two different shoes to pre-school.

Cell phone faux pas’ abound in the airport.  As your newly appointed C.O.P. let me invite you to consider the following…PLEASE!

Use your texting feature

Keep it Brief / Keep it Quiet

If you must converse via cell phone, take your call to an area of the airport more discreet or to an area with other talkers.  Noisier areas of the airport such as restaurants or designated phone areas are good choices

Keep your language “clean”

Turn your ringer to vibrate mode

These modest tips won’t enhance your ego but they could save your life.  Why you ask?  The same business trip I took recently provided you with another visualization lesson.

After waiting through three flight delays, 8 hours of idleness in a vinyl chair and one flight cancellation, a man (I’m going to call him “Camels Backend”) approached the airport podium like a house-a fire.  He was absolutely incensed that he had to spend the night at the luxurious airport Holiday Inn.  As he was verbally assaulting the airline employee, a young man directly behind him conducted a phone conversation with his girlfriend.  He was telling her in 125 decibels (the noise equivalent of a pneumatic riveter at  4-foot distance) how much he was going to miss her that night.  He was REALLY going to miss her (he was quite graphic at this point). That broke the Camel’s Backend.  Camels Backend wheeled around and let loose on the despairing boy-man.  What nearly turned into a physical scuffle didn’t.  The boy-man had more sense than I gave him credit for.  He calmly ended the love fest conversation, apologized and left the immediate area.  He was much more mature than Camels Backend.  I wish I could take credit for saving his life.

The point here is that traveling can be stressful.  As I stated in a previous blog, we don’t know the individual human story.  Ordinary circumstances can be emphasized and blown out of proportion when stressed.  Kindness and respect for the next guy is all that is needed. A smile doesn’t hurt either.  Please save a life or at least contribute silence to the millions of us who have normal sized egos. Thank-you.


Destination: YARD SALE!

Posted on May 2, 2012

Elizabeth Taylor once said “It’s not the having, it’s the getting“.  Liz and I were not besties but I’m sure she was alluding to the great American past time of the garage sale.  It’s that time of year again where the American public opens themselves up to the humbling experience of self-enterprise.  Where complete strangers follow the beacon of handmade signage to obtain the holy grail of ” THE DEAL”.  I confess I am one of the flock. Not only do I look forward to this pilgrimage as a customer, I also become a vendor.  Today, I’m directing this entry to the pilgrims.

Each year I tell myself that it will be the last.  Exhausting hours of preparation and imploring my friends for extra tables has left me wondering why I do it.  Why do I continually subject myself to the humiliation for pennies on the dollar?  Because…it’s fun!

You may have guessed that I’m not an introverted person.  I actually enjoy meeting “my” strangers and listening to those who need an ear.  I love seeing the excitement come over their faces when they score the jewels (junk) they’ve been yearning for.  But, as with any endeavor involving people, there are the troublesome few who spoil it for the whole.  To you, I bestow the following good form advice:

→Don’t knock on the door asking if you can gain early entry.  This happens to me nearly every time I hold a sale.  I once had a women knock on the door of my home at 6am with six children in tow asking for early entry into my garage.  My published start time was 8am but I generously told her I would make every attempt to open a few minutes early.  Believe it or not, she got angry with me at the same time three of her little sweethearts barreled through my front door.  This brings me to point #2.

Don’t ask the homeowner to use their bathroom or any other part of their home.  The world’s a crazy place with lots of crazy people.  Understand this is a safety issue above all else.  Don’t put the seller in an awkward position of having to politely decline your request.

If it is early in the morning, please be quiet.  While the homeowner may be up and ready to bargain at 8am, some of her neighbors may not be.  Be respectful of the surroundings.

Please do not park your vehicle in front of the driveway or mailbox.

Carry small bills in that swanky leatherette fannie pack of yours.  This is a yard sale, not Nordstrom’s.

Be respectful of the merchandise.  Leave the items where you found them and neatly re-fold any clothing you may have handled.  Being respectful of the merchandise also means you may have to stifle the giggle rising in your throat.  I know there is nothing funnier than a pair of mans leopard Zuba pants from 1980 BUT they actually might have some sentimental value to the seller.  Please don’t insult no matter how ridiculous the item may be.

The art of negotiation is an art form indeed.  Fair negotiation is expected but haggling incessantly is rude.

If you are a neighbor or friend coming to scope or snoop, limit your conversations if there are other customers present.  As a customer, I’ve heard many conversations that should have been held privately. You don’t know who could be listening. Actually, everyone listens even if they pretend they aren’t.  In addition, if your seller is distracted by chatter, they won’t be able to tend to their customers.

And now…for the piece de la resistance!

I humbly offer you a glimpse of what my garage sale may offer you this year.


It’s just too good to be true isn’t it?  If Liz was alive I know she’d be the first one at my sale.

A Classy Guzzler

Posted on April 28, 2012

Believe it or not, there are faux pas avoidance techniques specifically for the knock-back category.  Tackling the “how to drink” adventure is in no way neglectful of the fact we are all born with the ability to drink.  It is the refinement of this gift that needs attention.

Your stylistic beverage consumption may never be noticed or rewarded with accolades.  If your technique is less than stylish, you will be noticed.  For some of you, that might be a bonus.

I’m going to divide this into two categories; non-alcoholic and alcoholic.  If you only consume alcoholic beverages, you can skip to the second part.

FOR ALL DRINKERS:    Please sip rather than gulp AND sip without food in your mouth.

Non-Alcoholic Beverage Swilling Technique

Tea & Coffee

  • Dunking:  Biscotti, Oreo’s and all other dunkable treats should only be dipped when at a casual function and where others are dunking as well.   Don’t dunk otherwise.
  • Keep your pinkie finger inward when sipping.  Gone are the days when lifting your pinkie finger was considered fashionable.  Tell your Nana.
  • Do not cool your drink with ice.  Wait it out.  It’s considered rude but I don’t know why.
  • Teabags should be lifted from the cup, allowed to drip then deposited to a saucer or plate.  Please don’t squeeze.
  • Place your crinkled packets of sugar and/or creamery to the edge of your saucer or plate.
  • Spilled your coffee?  If your coffee cup is resting on a saucer, please do not pour the caffeinated goodness back into your cup. Start over.

Water & Soft Drinks (aka: Pop)

  • Ice-cubed drinks:  Do not chew the ice!
  • Casual occasions warrant drinking from the bottle or can but drinking from a glass or mug is better form.

Alcoholic Beverage Swilling Techniques


There is a resurgence in beer consumption as of late.  With all of the micro-brews and specialties hitting the market, it’s no wonder.  Even some of you Wino’s are making the switch.  Good quality beers are often served in a bottle but should be accompanied by a mug or glass.  Same general rules for soft drink swilling apply here also.


I am not personally aware of any serious accidents where eyes have been put out permanently because of tiny umbrellas but I think it could happen.  For this reason please follow these suggestions:

  • Remove anything non-edible from your pretty glass (swizzle sticks, umbrellas, etc.) upon receipt – exception: straw.  Deposit the accoutrements to the nearest plate or trash receptacle. If one is not handy, discreetly fold it into your napkin.
  • Edible garnishes:  Enjoy these little tidbits only after you’ve finished your drink UNLESS they are adjoined to a pick in which case, you may nibble while swilling.  Yes…you may use your fingers to fish out the morsel but only after you’ve drained the glass.  Draining your glass does not mean downing the liquid in one fell swoop.  It means sipping, remember?


No strict etiquette rules here but how about a helpful hint?  Hold your wine glass by the stem.  This will allow the wine’s temperature to remain optimal during consumption.  No stem on your glass?  Well…never mind.

I personally have red & white stemless wine glasses – little tumblers.  While I think they are cute and trendy, I don’t really care for them.  There is something satisfying about holding a stemmed glass.  My dislike for these types of glasses has nothing to do with keeping a moderate temperature.  I drink the wine much too quickly to notice such things.♥

K. Martini (aka: the quick sipper)

Phone Call Faux Pas #1

Posted on April 25, 2012

Phone Call Faux Pas;  Say that six times after a glass of Pinot and a 12 hour  work day.  Today’s posting will be short and to the point.  No need to beat around the bushes here.  While engaged in an active call, please use the following as your guide.   Avoid or Do Not…


Chew Gum

Talk to Someone Else

Cough, Sneeze or Blow your Schnoz


Make Unnecessary Noises

Hang up in Anger or Frustration

While one could assume that these need no further explanation, I’m going to expound anyway.

Eating while on the phone is rude and crude. Stop it.

Listening to someone chew gum on the other end of the receiver may not bother you but it irks me to death.  It’s similar to listening to one eat.   If you are chewing when you pick up the phone, park your gum outside your mouth.  You can resume action after the call.

Give your caller your undivided attention.  If you are like me, you often bring others into the phone conversation who are physically present.  As long as the person on the other end of the receiver knows this and is OK with it…go nuts.

Please turn your head away if you cough, sneeze or blow your nose.  The visual slide show I get in my head when someone blows their nose on the phone sticks with me for hours afterward.  Yuck.

Multi-tasking .  The asterisk means there is some leeway here.   I believe we women are born multi-taskers.  It is in our genomes.  God made us this way.  I know that I can efficiently make a grocery list, deep condition my hair and watch a romantic comedy on the tube while walking on the treadmill.  I know I could add a phone conversation to the mix easy.  There is something so rewarding about accomplishing more than one task at a time.  I can’t explain it.  It’s a drug and lots of you know what I’m talking about.  So, here’s the rule; as long as the other person feels attended to, not offended,  hurt or slighted,  you just juggle to your heart’s content.

Unnecessary noises are distracting if heard by the party on the other line.  You can figure out if your noise is necessary.  I know there’s a joke in there somewhere.

Never, ever hang up on someone suddenly or in anger.  If you need to end the call, please give respectful warning.  Key word: respectful.

We’ve just begun to scratch the service…more to come!  What irks you?  What phone foibles really get under your skin?

K. Martini

Tipping Etiquette #1 – The Eateries

Posted on April 21, 2012

I consider myself blessed to be a resident of the United States of America.  When it comes to tipping however; the blessings sometimes become blurry.  Due to the vast array of venues and circumstances tipping can apply to, I’m going to break up the subject matter into bite-sized pieces.  Sometimes I just crack myself up.

In some countries, tipping is considered “bad form”.  In others,  it is considered optional and others still, prohibited or insulting.   Those rules would certainly make life just a little bit easier for us to follow in the U.S.A.  Unfortunately,  I don’t live in Fiji, Samoa, Georgia (the country) or  Singapore.   Here in America, tipping is confusing in part because it is expected for most services.  It is socially obligatory with few clear cut rules.

While we are able to govern ourselves ably at McDonald’s (no tip territory), we find it more difficult to navigate the service waters  elsewhere.  With that stated, let me provide you with some small tips (pun intended).

Let’s start with the wait staff.  Since many of us (at least myself) don’t often frequent establishments that provide restroom attendants offering perfume spritzes and linen hand towels, the wait staff is an easy, generic  first subject.

Wait staff :  Mediocre to great – are typically tipped 15-20% of the bill; 20% saved for great service.

Your wait staff will more than likely be splitting the tip you left with the busboy and other behind-the-scenes staff people.  Please keep that in mind with your calculation. WARNING:  Make sure you check your bill; some establishments add an automatic percentage for you.  Read the fine print!

Critics abound with varying opinions on whether bad service warrants  a tip at all.  Let me state for the record that a tip of 10% is expected for bad service.  Don’t shoot the messenger if you disagree.   Of course I have a story for you.  Decide for yourself after you read the following:

My BFF (Best Friend Forever) and I went to a local restaurant for dinner recently.  She smartly scored a Groupon for an establishment trying to increase it’s following.  The restaurant had been receiving great culinary reviews.  CULINARY meaning the food was spectacular.  We were seated after 20 minutes of waiting at the front podium.  No one was in line.  No one was in the restaurant. No one.  The waitress tossed the menus on the table without a word and left.  We waited. We flagged her down after 25 more minutes to order. No one was in the restaurant. No one.  Longer story short, we ate (yes, the food was fantastic), we paid, we left.  As we were making our way to the car, the waitress stormed out of the restaurant and threw the paid bill at us ranting in 4-letter expletives about her tip.  We tipped her 10%.  YIKES.  Point:  We need to be gracious and forgiving.  We all work hard and in today’s financial climate, some struggle more than others.  We don’t know the individual human story.  I felt 10% was EXTREMELY gracious.  Too bad the waitress felt differently.  I’m pretty sure I saw a gun holster in her apron.

Buffets: Please leave 10% for the soul who has to clean your table with the 6 plates per person you left because you obeyed the sign that stated “Take a clean plate each time”.

Coffee Houses & Other Establishments with Tip Jars:  Those tip jars are there for a reason.  I realize you just dropped $6 for a double caramel decaf latte.  If you can drop that kind of dough for a cup of coffee, drop a few coins in the jar.  While tipping in a jar marked up with a Sharpie is optional, consider these folks make little more than minimum wage and put up with our ridiculous orders.

Posh Places:  You are celebrating!  You’ve just received your tax return and want to stick-it-to-the-man with a $200 dinner. Good for you!  In addition to the tipping advice for your wait staff outlined above, there is a whole host of additional characters that may deserve your tipping attention.

  • Wine Steward aka: Sommelier:  10-15% of the bottle cost OR a minimum of $3 per bottle.  That jug comes to you via expert recommendation.  We are going to assume that your Sommelier has to un-cork your jug rather than twist off the cap.
  • Coat Room Attendant: $1 per coat
  • Rest Room Attendant: 25-50 cents for the hand towel. $1 to help you remove the carbonnara sauce stain on your  tie or the spritz of cologne.
  • Parking Attendant:  Two  buckaroo minimum  regardless if your vehicle is a Porsche Carrera with a 454 engine or 1982 rust bucket. Of course, this guy had WAY more fun hot rodding your Porsche to the front door. I guess you could consider that part of the tip.
  • Maitre’D:   The power player of the restaurant has just seated you at the best table in the house.  Your dining next to kings, celebrities and other human royalty.  Depending on the establishment, a $20 bill may be in order.  If your choice of restaurant is less than Michelin quality, $5-$10 is acceptable.  While you may feel a bit like a Mafioso, please hand your tip over inconspicuously.  It’s so much fun to do!

Gift Certificates, Groupons & Coupons: ALWAYS tip on what the original amount would have been without your discount.

I know what you’re thinking.  You are thinking that my BFF and I tipped on the discounted Groupon amount which subsequently started the waitress tirade attack.   You, my friend would of assumed incorrectly.  Can you possibly imagine the scene if we had?  I think there never would of been a faux pas blog,  just a memorial marker in the parking lot with a chalk outline.

I’d love to hear your suggestions for tipping post  #2!

Prom – Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Posted on April 18, 2012

Ladies of Prom age…it’s your turn.  If you took a moment to read my post on Prom aimed to the Boy-Men, you will see that there are some cross-over points for you to ponder.   Even in this day and age of increased gender equality, the guys may assume most of the financial burdens.  Yea.  Sometimes it’s just really great to be female.  There are some caveats to this however.

I’m not going to bore you with another tragic prom story from my past.  Take a look at the last post and you will have enough fodder to keep you for a long time.  In fact, my pictures may give you the confidence you might be lacking.  I will support you completely if you (silently and not publicly) laugh.

Read the prom posting for guys as a prerequisite to this.  Much of the information applies to you to also.

So ladies, this one’s for you.  My heart is with you.  Who knows?  You might see me at your prom since I’ve publicly stated that I want a do-over.

The Invitation:  Traditional lore-of-old (pre-1975) stated that the guy always asked the girl.  As a gal who’s teenage years were locked into the “70’s, that is mostly bunk.  Even then there were occasions when she asked he.      These were the exceptions  saved when true love bloomed at the beginning of the school year and continued until the following June when the school year ended.  Rare were such beautiful unions.  In these cases  it was, and still is,  perfectly acceptable to ask your beau for his arm to the prom.  For those of us not blessed with a long term romance in high school, you may need to wait for him to ask you.   This may force you to roll the dice and hold your breath.  What if  “HE” waits too long to ask and someone else asked first?  What if “HE” does not ask at all? Keep a hankie handy…these are probable scenarios.

You can be coy and drop the hint when the situation is appropriate.  Lunch time over corn dogs is the perfect time to drop a hint.   If “HE” does not bite or take the bait, you are either forced to wait and become available to someone else or you can do the asking.   If you happen to be the apple of someone else’s eye and he asks you before “HE” does…you’ve now found yourself  in an apple-pickle.

How to say “No“:  This may be the hardest advice to implement.  It will certainly be the hardest to receive.  Above all else, remember you could be the apple of his eye from afar.  It takes a steely nerve to approach you with the risk of pain.  If you find that you are really not interested in his offer, be polite, smile (with sincerity) and make it quick.  Don’t make silly excuses – tell him you appreciate the offer but your feelings are not the same as his. Maintain eye contact and be calm.  DO NOT tell him you want to stay friends if you have no intention of being friendly.

Consider going alone or with a group:  Yes, you can have fun without “HIM”!

Cost:  While most of the cost may fall to “HIM”,  you  will have to find….The Dress!   Not just any dress…THE DRESS.  While none of what I’m about to tell you will matter in the least, I’m going to say it anyway.  You will never, ever, ever wear it again.  Your mother may cut it up into a quilt for your hope chest but you won’t be wearing it again.  Trust me. Take that consideration with you to the mall when your eyes fill with tears once you see the price tags.   I’m not suggesting you wear your mother’s prom dress.  Although…did you see the fancy frocks I was wearing in my pictures for the prom for boys posting? Unfortunately, they’ve been donated to a country where they don’t have any dresses.  You can be gorgeous without having to fork over the cash equivalent of an Badgley Mischka.  Getting creative does not mean you will not be beautiful. It means you are beautifully smart!

Boutonniere:  The man flower. Buy one but keep it simple and elegant.  This usually means less expensive to.

The Evening:  He’s picked you up, told you that you are beautiful (he better have) and you are at the prom!  As a special Girl-Woman, here are some suggestions for you to keep in your chastity belt.

Have fun BUT…

  • Don’t get too dreamy:  Having over-inflated expectations could lead to disappointment.
  •  There can be a lot of pressure to drink, drug  and/or have sex.  Keep your beautiful head  straight. Be a peer leader; be noble.  Noblewomen!  Who doesn’t  like a royal title?

I lied.  I have one more prom story.

Half of prom #2 was spent in a lavish and beautiful country club bathroom.  In addition to admiring the expert marble tile work, I was kindly holding back the french chignon of my best girlfriend as she spewed into the toilet then into unconsciousness. You cannot possibly imagine what it feels like to ride in an ambulance and subsequently explain to her parents the amount of alcohol she consumed on your prom night. This was even worse than not dancing. Be a noblewomen!

PROM – Let’s hear it for the Boy-Men

Posted on April 13, 2012

Proms  are age specific.  Sometimes I wish they weren’t.    If you are one of the fortunate girls who went to prom with someone you actually liked (or puppy loved), I congratulate you!!   I, on the other hand, was not THAT girl. Although I had a modest amount of popularity, I was forced to attend prom with boy-men I did not like.  I will not name names but it is very tempting.  Time for the story and lesson…

My goal was to be able to attest in my old age that I attended all the proms I was able to. It was a numbers game for me. This is a sad and sobering fact. While I was successful in achieving my goal, I can honestly say that I did not enjoy any of them.  The worst night was when I went with the captain of the basketball team.  Understand I was doomed from the beginning.  He was 6′ 8″. I, on the other hand, was 4′ 11″.  As you visualize us romantically dancing to “Color my World”, do the math and form your own slide show.  Yes, I was hugging his pelvic region.  And…I did not like him.  The blessing of this horrid event was this was the first and last dance for us.  Partly because I was in a leg cast from a tragic cheerleading try-out mishap.  Bad week.  I did not make the squad and I went to prom with a giant.  Oh yes…and I had to crutch my way across the 18-hole golf course in a virginal white dress because he did not want to pay the $1 valet parking fee.  I want a do-over.

Boy-men of the prom world…take heed of the following:

Ask the girl of your dreams early.  6 weeks before the big event is about right.  Understand that your steely nerves will be tested.  Understand that she might say “no”.  All of this will makes sense later when you realize at 35 years of age that the experience has made you stronger.  The six-week time-frame will allow you to adjust your expectations and ask the next girl on your list. And so on…

Budget.  The six-letter word that you know nothing about unless you are on the chess club.  FYI…chess club guys inevitably become the guy’s of our dreams!  These shin-digs can become costly. Get creative and think of those things that are important; her corsage (wrist, no pins), the cool duds (rental unless you know Donald Trump), dinner (do not even consider the buffet line with florescent lighting).  Transportation is big unless you own a dope car.  (I am trying to fill the gender gap here.)   Motorcycles are not an option.  Yes,  I arrived at the country club on a crotch rocket for Prom #2.  At least I wasn’t wearing white.  The point here is to save your money and plan accordingly.

 Use the common sense God gave you. Drive carefully – she’s someone’s cherished daughter or sister.  Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs.  This could be really hard; dig deep.   Believe it or not, the girls secret  is to have a guy that she can trust and will protect her.

Arrive on time and get her home when promised.

Tell her she is beautiful.  You cannot possibly imagine  the time it took her to get ready for this night.  She’s planned, primped and re-primped to near exhaustion.  She’s spent countless hours in stores  and on the phone with her friends ensuring she is the best she can be.  Please acknowledge  it with genuine feeling!  She will carry that moment with her forever.

 Plan on spending time with the parentals.  Practice your winning smile in the mirror for the much anticipated photo op’s.  Trust me (again), these photos will bring you years of joy and even more chuckles. Shake her parents hands firmly and with confidence. Look them in the eye when speaking to them. They need to know that the trust they are placing with you is well deserved.

Introduce her to your friends but don’t abandon her! 

Have fun! 

Don’t paw at her or expect anything in return. You know what I mean.  Man up.

Dance. Dance a lot.  If you don’t know how, practice.  The ‘ole sway & turn move still works. Listen to Paramore ” The Only Exception” for practice.

 Thank all those who planned the Prom. Your big event took many man hours to plan and execute.  Thank those involved;  classmates, school principal & personnel, etc.  You will stand out as a man of character.

After Parties.  This is not the time to let loose with abandon. Have fun but keep in mind that most disasters occur during the after-party.  If not handled properly, you could find your reputation scared and “your girl” wishing she had gone with someone else.

When the evening is over, thank her.  Even if you had a lousy time and went with a 6’8″ girl and you are 4’11”, thank her! Walk her to the door.  Better yet, open the car door for her to.  Chivalry must not die.  It is still cool!  She will remember you for being that guy she was stupid enough to let get away. That is unless you stalk her on Facebook or text her until she has to change her phone number.

Develop the pics and hand them to your mother.  She will save them fondly and use them for the slide show at your wedding to the girl of your dreams.  WARNING:  It might not be that girl.

I have no illusions of grandeur in thinking that prom-aged boy-men read this blog.  However, we might have a brother, nephew, neighbor, etc. that falls into that category.  Pass this along…it might save you the task of having to communicate to them directly.  This would make you passive-aggressive.   That’s ok…it’s a minor faux pas at best.

Clearly, I have no modesty.  See below.  PLEASE…do not ask me what years these were taken!  Hard to believe I could not find the basketball player photo.


More Joy

Icky Cookie Face

Cure for the Dinner Guest Blues

Posted on April 11, 2012

After struggling with what to write about for my first post, I’ve been lead to a subject near and not so dear to my heart; How to be a good dinner guest.  With all of the topics to choose from, this one, single theme continues to creep into my personal life.  While I might be going out on a limb, I’m going to assume that most of us have not been raised in a barn or had (real) monkeys for parents.   With that said, the obvious question might be why some folks behave like they have.

Parental example. It’s common to blame our parents for all the wrongs in our life.  Of course, our bad choices are their fault. It’s their fault for neglecting to teach us how to tie our shoes which has forced us to live with Velcro high-tops.  It’s their fault we don’t know how to parallel park. It’s their fault we don’t know how to pay our credit card bills.  It stands to reason it’s their fault we don’t know how to behave politely at a dinner party.  While this sounds outrageous, it may not be too far from the truth.  Unless we are taught and/or lead by example, we can’t necessarily be held to the fire.  Common sense you say? Before you actually say that, consider the fact that common sense has been dolled out in varying doses.  You know what I’m talking about.

SO…for those that actually have been raised in a barn or did not have the good fortune to have been taught basic good form by their parental figures, let me give you some foundational assistance. Remember, this is COOL.  When implemented and executed you might even get a second invitation! That is unless you don’t want one.

  • Dress appropriately. This does not mean you show up to the monster truck preview dinner in greasy overalls and steel toed boots.  Arrive with a clean body and clean, neat and appropriate clothes.  Formal dinner parties may mean a suit & tie for the gents and a dress & fake Manolo Blahniks’ for the ladies. Casual dinners might dictate you wear jeans and a sweater. Each occasion will provide a cue as to the appropriate attire.  When in doubt, ask your host!  If you are still doubtful, error on the dressier side.  Some may challenge me on this.  I’ve heard some experts say that to dress “down” is safe.  I politely disagree.  Respect your host and show them you appreciate their effort and generosity.
  • Arrive On Time.  Don’t arrive more than 15 minutes late without calling. Don’t arrive too early.  Your host may still be preparing for your visit.  You don’t want to interrupt the vacuuming.
  • Do not bring guests who were not invited by the host. PERIOD.  I don’t care who they are; if they were not invited, they don’t come. WARNING: Do not ask your host if you can bring them.  This applies to nearly every invitation including and especially weddings!  More on that at a later date.
  • Do not bring your pet.  Having to actually state this makes me sad. Yes, it’s happened to me.
  • Bring a small token of appreciation.  You might refer to this as a “Hostess Gift”.  A small token of thanks might be flowers (put them in a vase), the traditional bottle of wine (no jug wines, please), scented candle, etc., etc.  You get the drift.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. No one and I mean no one likes a sloppy drunk. Don’t impose on your host by forcing them to either call you a cab or (heaven forbid) have to bunk your sorry self for the night.
  • Don’t be loud. This one is nearly always related to the point above.  You could also state this as “don’t be loud AND obnoxious”.
  • Offer to help.  A simple offer will do.
  • Don’t wander through the house. I know some of you are neat and clean to the core. I happen to be one of those women who believes closets are for stashing last minute clutter. Yes, I’m confessing. Have a heart and don’t ramble through your host’s house uninvited. This can save load’s of embarrassment. LOADS.
  • Body Language. Your body language can say a lot about you and your attitude. Sit up straight. Keep your shoes on. Keep your elbows off the table and close to your own body (even if Heidi Klum is seated next to you). If you are not exactly thrilled to be there…fake it.  Smile and be gracious.
  • Don’t Take your Medication at the Table. If you must medicate yourself to get through the dinner or to control what ails you, politely and quietly excuse yourself and head to the bathroom.  Do your pill popping in private.
  • Eat only after all others have been served. This is one point of particular importance to me and one that is most often overlooked.  WAIT UNTIL ALL OTHERS HAVE BEEN SERVED BEFORE DIGGING IN.  PLEASE REFRAIN YOURSELVES!  Yes, this has happened to me – repeatedly. I’m sure it’s because I’m a good cook.
  • Don’t push your plate away.  I realize it’s hard to believe but pushing your plate away either while you are eating or after is RUDE. If you push your plate away while eating, you’ve just communicated to your host that the meal is not to your liking.  If you push it away after you’ve eaten, you’ve inadvertently said that you are done; bring on the waffle cones. I actually had a guest of mine push her plate away while stating she “just could not eat THIS”.  She’s not been invited back.  You know who you are.
  • DO NOT CRITICIZE THE FOOD. Ever, ever, ever.  I once spent 3 days preparing a special meal for some special guests. One of these special guests told me that he would of never prepared the food the way I did. He did this as he was pushing his plate away.  Yes, he was special all right.  They’ve not been invited back.  Yes, I’m a good cook.
  • Know when to leave. If your host has gone to bed, that might be an indication you’ve over-stayed your welcome. Typically, one hour past dinner is a good guideline to follow when evaluating when to head for the door.   I know you are just dying to hear if this has happened to me.  Yes, in fact, he was still there the next morning. I’m sure it was because I’m a good cook.
  • Say “Thank-you”. Casual get-together thank you’s may be made by a simple phone call (preferred) or even an email (if you must). Formal dinner parties dictate that you send a hand written note.  You don’t have to be lavish. Acknowledge your appreciation!

There you have it!  Dinner party 101.  This is by no means an exhaustive list but it will give you something to chew on (I couldn’t help it) while you are fondly recalling your days in the barn.

I would love to hear your horror stories!  Drop me a comment – remember; misery loves company.  Or at least a good laugh!

K. Martini


Posted on April 10, 2012

faux pas [foh pah] noun, plural faux pas  [foh pahz; Fr. foh pah] a slip or blunder in etiquette, manners, or conduct; an embarrassing social blunder or indiscretion.  

There are as many words for a social blunder as social blunders. My personal favorite (aside from Faux Pas) is peccadillo; a very minor or slight sin or offense; a trifling fault.  The word is just flat-out fun to say.

Years of silently and sometimes not so silently witnessing social errors lead me to purge through blogging.  I can’t possibly be alone in my frustrations!  Misery loves company…

Not only are there a zillion words for etiquette, there are a zillion more possible subjects just waiting for juicy comment. BUT… comments are not enough. As cathartic as it might be to vent, what is really needed are solutions to idiotic behaviors. While many idiotic behaviors can be attributed to innocent ignorance, some of them can be credited to outright rudeness caused by selfishness.

Polite behaviors are cool.  They have not gone out of style but only faded from the forefront of our current culture.  Every day one can witness countless examples of bad form. While these may elicit a shake of the head or roll of the eyes, it’s the good examples that stick out. It’s the five- year old child who shakes your hand upon meeting and says thank you for the fudgsicle.  It’s the teenage boy-man who gives up his seat on the L for a woman. It’s the dinner guest who politely eats the lutefisk dinner lovingly prepared by his friend.  And who doesn’t hate lutefisk!? All of these examples will undoubtedly provoke a smile. That’s what good manners do. Good etiquette means thinking of others before yourself.  Where have we heard that commandment before?

Amy Vanderbilt and the Post women may have started the modern etiquette revolution but let’s not forget that God himself charged us with this challenge. Yep, I’m a believer.  Whoops…I meant “yes”.  Proper etiquette crosses all belief systems, cultures, races and genders. It is universally beneficial to and for EVERYONE.

Of course with any battle, it must be said that the crusader will need gracious accommodation.  While I would love to say that I never, ever, ever commit any trifling fault, claiming that would be an outright lie; therefore a blunder.

It’s time to dive in.

K. Martini

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