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.

RULE: 

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

Undergarments

Weird things

Food

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

“Dear [INSERT NAME],

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

Do…

  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.

Don’t…

  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

%d bloggers like this: