In A Manner Of Speaking

This month our man-about-gala Jake Gaines is on the scene and weighing in on matters as diverse as friendships, formal weddings, entrepreneurial children and how opening doors can make life better all around.

Dear Mr. Manners,
I love having so many close friends. One friend, however, compulsively, speaks about her personal life and all that is wrong with it, while wondering why she knows so little about me when I can’t even get in a word edgewise. Any solutions?
Talkative in Tarrytown

Dear Friend of Talks Much,
First, I get it. I really get it. I learned at an early age that people love to talk about themselves more than anything and that if you could get people to feel comfortable about revealing themselves, then you will likely have a friend for life. But, friendships are a two way street of interaction. If you feel that is not the case in this friendship, then you owe it to yourself to let your friend know that she talks too much without sharing the friendship platform equally and that you prefer that she not speak of things in a purely negative light unless she thinks there are crucial matters where your advice could be of service. You can deflect the conversation to discuss something neutral that you both have in common, or perhaps a third party to join you so that the topics do not soley reflect your friend who is the conversation monopolizer. Either your pal will get on the bus with these strategies or not. I am hoping she realizes that most don’t want to be inundated with others negativity and cleans up her act to be the good friend that once attracted you to her.
Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,
It seems that wedding season is year ‘round now. My husband and I were invited to a black tie wedding, which is simple for him to wear a tuxedo, yet I am not sure what a summer black tie outfit for a woman might be?
Inquiring in Alamo Heights

Dear Inquiring Mind,
Great question and it is one that comes up often. As you know, good form dictates that black-tie wedding attire is only appropriate after 6 PM, yet these days as long as the reception starts around 6PM it is perfectly fine to request black-tie. For your attire, it depends on the venue and your age. A ceremony held in a house of worship may require that you have their shoulders and/or arms covered with a jacket, sleeves or perhaps, a wrap is needed. A formal gown, one that would not even remotely upstage the bride, should fall to the floor, but an exception can be made for tea or knee-length, or shorter, if the design is very elaborate and on a younger woman. You’ll see many of these weddings covered in our future issues, so look for those for more inspiration, too.
Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,
I am raising my children with an entrepreneurial spirit. Is it appropriate to sell my kid’s fundraiser items to coworkers?
Curious in River Oaks

Dear Parental Guidance,
This falls under the topic of “Just About Everybody Does It” in our files. I actually feel strongly both ways and here’s why. First, if your company’s policy does not endorse such activities or if you are the boss, since your employees or team may feel compelled to pay up to stay on your good side. They’ll consider it a bribe, even if you do not, so consider that. That’s one thing.

The other thing is that Mr. Manners used to sell candy bars for school organizations to raise funds fort them, but I went door to door in the neighborhood selling them, the old-fashioned way. It was a terrific experience to knock on the doors of neighbors I knew and did not know, candy bars in hand, ready to sell to whomever answered the door. Without parental supervision. On my own. And, you know what? I sold a ton of candy bars based on the importance of the cause that I conveyed, a winning approach, and a heartfelt smile. Kids are different now and thanks to the parental “helicoptering” approach of helping them succeed, kids now sell more candy bars with ways like taking it to mom or dad’s office, which also benefits the organizations more. I still think that the personal touch of a child selling on his own still can be effective if you let them create a strong sense of self based on their own accomplishments. It will also be good for the resume’ to get into college.
Mr. Manners

Dear Mr. Manners,
What’s the latest belief in men opening doors for women? For a while women were offended in not being perceived as equal. What’s the latest?
Laredo Door Opener

Dear South Texas Gent,
The latest is what has been consistent since modern manners were developed. Good manners simply mean the expression of helping others feel comfortable around you. When it comes to opening doors, rising when a woman approaches or leaves a table, helping her with her car door, or any other thoughtful act for that matter, manners are always in style. Women and men have gained equality in so many ways and part of that equality is knowing that good form is practiced for a reason. To make life more civilized and elegant – and isn’t that always the goal?
Mr. Manners