He’s done it again. Our roving Mr. Manner’s Jake Gaines wants to share his worldly insight on everything from dealing with artistic temperaments, correcting grammar, people who talk way too loudly in pubic, and saying no. Modern manners, after all, do require thoughtful kindness.
Dear Mr. Manners.
I have many creative friends, so how can I tactfully tell my artist pal that I took down one of his paintings that we had over the fireplace for a year after it was given to us? We don’t to hurt his feelings.
Artful in Alamo Heights
Art is so subjective and I am assuming you liked the painting in the first place or you wouldn’t have installed it above the fireplace where you see it daily. I, too, have many artist friends; both contemporary and old master and love collecting them to both enjoy the pieces and support the artist.
There are many reasons you may want to move it. Sometimes you just get tired of looking at the same thing, the painting wasn’t your taste in the first place, or even, you bought something else that works better in the spot.
No matter, just tell the artist and anyone who asks (and they shouldn’t) that you immensely love collecting art and the best thing about it is that you are able to rotate paintings to enjoy them in different environments as you wish.
Dear Mr. Manners,
I have found recently that I am correcting people when I see an error occur in their grammar. I’m polite, yet is it wrong to earnestly correct relatives or friends when they are wrong?
Tempted in Tarrytown
Just like driving a slippery road after a rainstorm, please proceed with caution. It is fun to be right, yet being smug is worse than any grammatical offense might ever be. One time we had a close pal misuse the word ‘anecdote’ and ‘antidote.’ Bless her heart, it is not uncommon, but after hearing it too many times, I took it upon myself to use the word correctly in a sentence so she could hear it used correctly, while I was not making it a specific judgment. It is the same with the widespread misuse of the pronouns ‘him’ and ‘he,’ ‘her’ and ‘she,’ and so on. Just repeat it correctly and move on.
The best remedy is to not correct if you feel you may offend the offender and cause embarrassment. Or, take a dive in, correct her and hopefully she won’t take it personally or that you think she is not as smart as she is, and she’ll know the correction for the future. Mr. Manners has been corrected countless times over the years and loves the edification so as not to make the mistake on a grander scale at an Ambassador’s dinner where an embarrassment might be more egregious. We always think everyone else feels that way, too.
Dear Mr. Manners,
Is has happened again. I have found myself asking a stranger to quiet down. Should I, or should I not do that when in a public place?
Wondering in Westlake Hills
Dear Hill Topper,
Honeybee, as they say in the long game of cricket, that is a real sticky wicket. We’ve been around the world and have experienced many cultures of both wonderful manners and extreme rudeness. We now live in a world where people download movies onto their 98-inch big screen and talk through movies and then carry that trait to a movie theatre, which we can’t bear. As a general rule, unless it is a major infraction you can’t ask people to lessen their noise level. However, you might try what I do and say to the offender, “I wish I knew that, too. Oh, sorry, I thought you were talking to me as well.” It tends to work more often than not. Many times the loud talker either pipes down or moves along his merry way and you can go back to listening to Maroon 5 on your iPod.
Dear Mr. Manners,
In a world of vast opportunities, I find myself saying ‘yes’ too much. How may I politely refuse an offer than is not suitable for me for any number of reasons and say ‘no’ more often?
Torn in Terrell Hills
Dear Torn & Tired of Saying Yes,
We get it. We really get it. We, too, were raised to always be grateful for opportunities, and likewise, to always say ‘yes’ first, because we can always say ‘no’ later. Which we rarely do.
We made a little laundry list of things you may want to decline and how to best do that:
To the nice fellow at the mall who is taking a survey:
“I’m in a huge hurry, but I’ll take a pamphlet to see if it is something that catches my interest later.”
To that epic chair-woman who wants you to run or chair next year’s gala event when you are obligated to many other things instead:
“Precious, you know how much this cause means to me and my family. For now I just can’t take on such a big job. But you can count on me to donate like we always do to help as much as we can.”
To the neighbor who asks you to water her plants while she’s out of town:
“I would love to, but I really do have a brown thumb and I want you to return to green plants like you left them.”
To your mother-in-law who wants to invite her third cousin, twice removed to your daughter’s wedding:
“I’ve done all I can to influence the bride by pressuring her to invite all my friends and distant relatives, too, but the room is already quite full.”
You know Mrs. Contessa Von Big Stuff so well. I’m dying to attend one her of parties. Can you get me invited?
“She’s so great and really help so many worthy causes. I just don’t feel comfortable giving out her contact information without permission, but I’ll pass yours along to her and she can do what she thinks is best.”
To your bouncing gorgeous youngster who wants a third cookie:
“Not now, Love Bug. You’ll fill up on sugar and not eat things that are good for you to grow up to be a fine young lady (or man), so here’s a carrot stick instead.”