Jake Gaines, our very own Mr. Manners, who has been around a block or two in his life, is here to solve some of the modern etiquette conundrums that affect us all. Pull up a bar stool and listen to what the wise man says.
Dear Mr. Manners,
My husband and I recently hosted a dinner party and the guests naturally brought wine and liquor, the perfect socializing icebreaker. He wanted to serve it all then and there and I did not? What is best to not offend anyone?
Hostess With The Mostest
Dear Hostess Cupcake,
My mama always told me to not arrive empty handed and that started with neighborhood pal birthday parties and things haven’t changed much since then. I still arrive with a handful of something or another, many times a bottle of good stuff to thank the hosts for all the effort placed into the evening we are invited to share. It is the least we can do as a guest, right? It’s not like we are presenting a rare bottle of 1959 Montrachet, but we some doubloons on it so that our hosts could enjoy a memorable experience when they decide to open it any time they want.
So, is the host obligated to serve the bottle of wine or experience to the guests who presented it? We think not. You did your job by sharing it, now let them do theirs by choosing when to serve it. Who knows, maybe they’ll serve it at a surprise birthday party they have in mind for you. Here’s hoping, any way.
Dear Mr. Manners,
My husband and I love to entertain and often, the party can go late. However, when we want guests to leave, how do we do that without creating any embarrassment?
Rock Star Partier in Round Rock
We’ve all been there and in fact, we might be there again Saturday night with our next dinner party. There’s one lass in Houston, one of the Super Sociables we know well who simply puts on her La Perla jammies and comes back downstairs when the party is going to late as a cue for her guests to leave. As if. Now, however, it means to pour one more or two before pouring into the car service since we recommend always enjoying responsibly. In your case, I recommend you start gathering glasses, even if you have domestic help who has been doing that all night anyway. Turning up the dimmed lights and turning down the Bossa Nova music is another cue. Surely your friends know you well enough to understand you have to get up early to be on location for your TV shoot or perhaps, winging to Paris for the collections. Then say, ‘Now, Darling, we must do this again some time.’
Dear Mr. Manners,
How should I deal with busybodies who are apt to criticize my lifestyle choices?
Curious in Crestview
Dear Lifestyle Chooser,
At one point in time we all fall victim to thinking we know all the answers and make snap judgments on things other people do, say and think that may not be congruent with our own beliefs. The recent presidential election proved that, didn’t it? My pal, author Malcolm Gladwell, refers to this as “thin slicing”, which is making judgments on intuition, little information and previous experiences.
Many of us were raised by our parents who had a relatively myopic point of view with how they saw the world, and that was that. We were expected to not stray far from that and if we did, at least, they thought, we had a foundation to build upon intellectually. The main take-away message? It’s not 1973 anymore, it never will be again and who would want it to be? Women were still treated as second-class citizens, minorities were shunned and gay rights was the right to not get killed by staying inauthentic.
Actually, we love busybodies. They make the world go ‘round and make for some interesting, surreal conversations. Sometimes their thin slicing is an opportunity for us to take a look at situations we had not previously thought to see differently. Other times, they reinforce the fact that we are grounded in our alternative viewpoint in which they don’t subscribe. No big deal. It’s a free country.
To offset those Gladys Kravitz’s… one response usually does the trick: I understand your opinion, and feel you are entitled to it even though I have a alternative set of experiences and feel differently. Simple Simon and chalk it up to the theory that it takes all kinds. No one is offended and no egos are bruised, especially in public. If there is a strong offense, then silence is concession and that can’t be tolerated. At the risk of being temporarily unpopular, set the offender with how you feel, why you feel that way and let them know quickly that what they have said is not OK. Then go buy yourself an ice cream cone. Dairy goodness tends to help heal things more quickly.