EGs.com - Home
Q&A Q&A Archives Features Our Books Media See Us in Hell Links

The Etiquette Grrls' Q & A Archive: December 2001

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I get sooooooo aggravated... I mean extremely... on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown aggravated when people wear shoes in my house. I have put up signs on the front door (which may not be the most proper thing to do, but it worked) telling them to PLEASE remove their shoes before entering. That worked, but then we moved. I thought that by then everyone who ever was a guest in my home knew that I did not like shoes in the house, so I didn't place another sign. My in-laws don't get the picture. My mother in-law, father in-law, brother in-law, and even his wife still wear their shoes in my house. I have made comments, I have asked nicely... they have to know how I feel about this. It literally drives me insane if I am sitting in the same room with someone who has their shoes on! My husband tells me it is rude to ask someone to take off their shoes. Personally, I feel it is rude to not take off your shoes! I don't live outside in the dirt, and animal doo-doo, and I certainly don't want to bring it into my house! What can I do? And am I being rude?

Thank you,
K

Dear K,

Oh, Dear Reader, we are sure you won't be Happy to Hear This, but we Cannot Agree With You on this one. It is Perfectly Normal to wear shoes indoors. When the EGs go to a party, we wear Nice Shoes-- pretty Kate Spade Slingbacks, say. We would be Shocked and Appalled if someone were to request, nay, DEMAND that we remove them and walk around In Our Stockings all night! The EGs would have spent a Long Time deciding which shoes would Go With Our Outfit, and it would be just Silly to Leave them at the Door! And furthermore, would you really want us to Stub Our Toes or Get Runs in Our Stockings? Dear Reader, we'd probably walk out the door and Celebrate Somewhere Else where our Nice Slingbacks were Made Welcome!

Dear Reader, the EGs would like to ask gently if perhaps you are Over-Reacting, just a Wee, Wee Bit? Of course, we would be Utterly Horrified too if someone who had apparently been Traipsing Through Sewers tried to wander into the Etiquette Flat, Tracking Filth Everywhere. But Dear Reader, honestly, we are sure Your In-Laws do not, as you have put it, actually live Outside in the Dirt, etc., etc. It's More than Slightly Insulting to them for you to imply this. The EGs can only respond to your question from our own Perspective, and we have offered Our Opinion on the Matter, as you asked. However, we just want to say that if you find you're Obsessed with this issue-- if you truly feel in actual Nervous Breakdown Range-- you might want to talk with A Professional who has experience Helping Folks with Issues Like This. You shouldn't have to Worry So, Dear Reader!

With best wishes,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I came from the ugliness and tackiness of the West Coast, to a college I hoped would be a tweedy bastion of civility, good taste, and manners on the Main Line. Most people are quite civil and many have good taste, but sadly there is very little tweed, and more importantly good table manners.

Every night at dinner my friends look like animals at the feeding troughs. I realize that they are probably quite hungry, as many of them play sports, but I play sports also and I never lower my head to my plate. Those who do have manners eat in the Continental Style. I was always taught that as an American it was my patriotic duty to thumb my nose at the Brits and cut my food with my fork in my left hand, make a graceful transfer to my right hand, and then put my food in my mouth. Next time I am at a State Dinner, or at a post-tennis luncheon with George Plimpton, I wouldn't want to do something so gauche (assuming it is) as to eat American. Please Etiquette Grrls, give me some help. Am I a Patriot, just doing my duty, or just a rube who doesn't know how to eat correctly?

Sincerely,
Fork Switcher

Dear Fork Switcher,

You have the Great Honor of Sharing a Pet Peeve avec the EGs! We hate Pretentious Eaters! It is one thing if you Are Actually European, or, say, Your Maman is and Taught You to Eat That Way, and it was Enforced While You Were At Boarding School in Switzerland, but for Regular Americans like us, it is Absurd! There is indeed a Happy Medium between shoveling food into one's mouth and Affecting British Manners, and Your Classmates would Do Well to Seek It. You are Correct; Everyone Else is Wrong.

Finally, Dear Reader, let us say that the EGs love, love, love the phrase, "sadly there is very little tweed"! We think you should use it As Frequently As Possible! It has already become part of Our Patois!

One of the EGs' Dear Friends: I cannot believe we thought it would be a Good Idea to Brave the Department Stores this afternoon. It was a Madhouse.

EG: Yes. I thought I would be Trampled to Death. Moreover, sadly there was very little tweed.

All best,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

We were recently invited to a restaurant for a friend's 40th birthday. It was a small group of 20 of us and each family arrived with gifts. However, at the end of the meal, the mother of the birthday girl handed her son-in-law the money for her portion of the meal. Another family member pulled out their wallet and proceeded to pay for their family's meal as well. Then another friend pulled out his wallet to pay for their family's meal... so of course, we went ahead and paid for ours as well. I was surprised by all this as this has not happened to us before when invited to a birthday dinner. Were we out of place for being shocked at this?

Sincerely,
Linda

Dear Linda,

Welcome to The Club.

Yours truly,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

We found out yesterday that my grandmother, age 80, has advanced liver cancer and has only weeks to live. In some ways this is a mercy: her Alzheimer's has made her increasingly miserable the last month or two, and the family has been concerned that she would have to move to a hospital-like setting.

My question is this: When one has time to anticipate death of a relative who lives far away, what is the correct action? Should I write a "sorry to hear you're dying" letter? It seems inappropriate, especially because sometimes doctors underestimate how long a person will live. On the other hand, warning like this is a chance to say good-bye. What do the Etiquette Grrls advise?

Very Concerned

Dear Very Concerned,

First, let us tell you how Sorry We Are to hear about Your Grandmother's Diagnosis. We hope she, and you, and Your Family will find Strength and Courage in what we are sure will be Difficult Times Ahead.

In your situation, Dear Reader, we think a letter to Your Grandmother would be a Wonderful Thing. You need not mention why you are writing; she will probably understand that without your needing to Be Specific. Instead, you could simply tell her What You've Learned From Her and that you Love Her Very Much. Especially if you cannot visit Your Grandmother to spend some time with her in person, this would be a Very, Very Lovely Thing to Do. And we imagine it would mean a Great Deal to both Your Grandmother and to You, Dear Reader.

Again, we think your idea is an Excellent One, Dear Reader. We send you Our Very Best Wishes and will keep you in Our Thoughts.

Very truly yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Is it totally rude to pick your teeth after a satisfying lunch with your friends using your boss's business card - assuming that you think he is a SUIH kind of guy? Your response is much appreciated.

Picky

Dear Picky,

Yes. No matter how Horrible he is. You should not be Picking Your Teeth with ANYTHING, Dear Reader, most especially In Public!

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

First, I would like to tell you how much I enjoy your site; it really amazes me how uncouth some people can be.

Here's my question: what do I do when someone gives us HIDEOUS Christmas ornaments? I'm not talking about something that's just not my style. My Mother-in-Law gave us a bunch of ornaments including some fake, ceramic snow-babies, one of which looks like it has to pee (pardon me). It has a pained look on its face and is holding its nether regions. I detest this ornament and would dearly love to smash it. May I?

Thank you!
Ill-Ornamented

Dear Ill-Ornamented,

Thank you very much for Your Nice Words about Our Site! It never ceases to amaze us, either, that people can be So Thoughtless, Rude, and Tacky. But we promise to continue to Try Our Damnedest to Straighten Everyone Out!

Oh, my. The EGs despise Hideous Ornaments. We like Very Traditional Ornaments-- nothing that Plays Music avec the aid of An Electronic Chip, nothing that involves Animals that do not Typically Wear Clothes Dressing Up as Santa, or Mrs. Claus, or Elves, etc. We especially despise those Anne Geddes things that have Small Infants dressed up as Giant Sleeping Haricots Verts or Some Such Horror! (Okay, so the EGs haven't actually seen those on Christmas Ornaments, but we are SURE they're out there, in some store we Don't Venture Into.) Dear Reader, the EGs are not giving you Any Ideas here, OF COURSE, but wouldn't it be the Easiest Thing if That Horrid Ornament met an Untimely Demise? One that was purely an "Accident" (e.g., a Very Flimsy Hook or something)? Now, note that we are Not Sanctioning Overtly Rude Behavior-- it would be Quite Bad Form to, say, take the Vile Thing and Drop-Kick It in the presence of Your Mother-in-Law. But no one can help a Wee Accident, now, can she?

Happy Holidays,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Can you define for me the most polite and couth means of self-expression?

Thank you,
Just Wondering

Dear Just Wondering,

Quelle Odd Question! We humbly suggest that it is The Written Word. The EGs think Painting, à la John Singer Sargent, is Pretty Fab as well, but Oil Paints are Messy and take Ages to Dry.

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I have been delighted the last week or so after finding your website. I applaud the EGs in tackling the huge social problem of our generation - rudeness. I have my own question to add...

I teach English at a high school in the Midwest. In order to encourage independence, I request students to be responsible for their own grade. This year I have had what teachers call a "helicopter mom" (one who hovers and interferes with everything). Lately this woman has become harassing in her e-mails. In her last e-mail, she asked, "Is there any type of status quo, due to race, that I am having such a difficult time with communicating with you about subjective grades you give my student."

Needless to say, I was horrified! Not only did the insensitive woman call me a racist but also she inferred that my grading criteria would be subjective since her child is a minority. Sensibly, I waited until I calmed down before responding to her rudeness. My question concerns the amount of time acceptable in returning an e-mail, since she called the principal after she did not get a response within three hours from me. Also, would you comment on why people who do not have a degree in either teaching or the subject manner feel they can change a teacher's grade?

Sincerely,
EveryTeacher

Dear EveryTeacher,

Hold on, Dear Readers, the EGs need to take a minute to Drag Out Our Soapbox. The EGs, as you might imagine, don't like Dragging Anything, as it tends to Mess Up Our Manicures, but we absolutely must have Our Soapbox for this response. Okay, the Soapbox is now in the Living Room of the Etiquette Flat, right next to the Settee.

All right, Everybody. Gather 'round. The EGs hereby announce that ANYONE who thinks it is okay to Insult, Second-Guess, Question the Knowledge Of, or otherwise Show Rudeness to A Teacher can SEE US IN HELL! Yes, Dear Readers, the EGs think it is High Time for people to stop thinking of Teachers as Some Sort of Servants who "owe" it to all children to give them High Grades (when they can't put together a simple sentence), Endless Praise (when they do not treat adults with the Slightest Modicum of Respect), and Cute Little Stickers on Their Papers. NOT EVERY CHILD DESERVES AN "A"! Hell, not every child deserves to PASS! Parents need to start treating Teachers like the Professionals They Are!

The EGs have now stepped down from Our Soapbox. You have asked us two direct questions, Dear Reader, and we shall now Answer Them. First, we think it is Not Appropriate for this woman to Call Your Boss to complain after just three hours have passed. We would say that in general, an e-mail that requires a response is best dealt with As Soon as Possible-- within a day is usually good. But you are certainly Within Reason to give yourself time to Compose Yourself before replying. We are a little bit curious about the timing here-- if she e-mailed you during School Hours, how did she expect you to have time to Reply Right Away? (Does she not understand that Teachers teach, and don't generally hang out online all day?) And if she didn't e-mail you during School Hours, how did she get in touch with the principal three hours AFTER she e-mailed you? Call him or her up at Home? Dear Reader, this woman is just Angry and looking to Get You in Trouble. We hope Your Principal calmed her down, then privately Laughed At Her. And might we add, it is HORRIBLE that she would stoop to suggesting your Grading Standards are anything but objective. That is a truly serious allegation, and she seems to be Tossing It Around Lightly (not to mention Inarticulately). We hope Your Principal will tell her she is Being Ridiculous. As long as grading standards apply to Every Kid in A Class, the mother of the one kid who isn't living up to them shouldn't be Grasping at Straws and Blaming the Teacher!!

And now for your second question: because they are, always have been, and always will be Total Fools.

We wish you good luck, Dear Reader, and if you need the EGs to come out, track this woman down, and give her a Good, Swift Kick in the Shins avec our VERY Pointy-Toed Slingbacks, just Let Us Know.

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I am writing to you because I am in a sticky situation. A friend that I met while traveling, and in hindsight do not have a lot in common with announced that she would be in my home city for the weekend so I felt obliged to have her as a house guest. When I took her out on the town with my friends, she was uncommunicative and sometimes downright sullen. When It was just the two of us she tended to nag a little.

On Sunday night, she announced that she was staying for another two and "was it ok with me" Of course I said yes but could not help but privately feel a little annoyed. Isn't it the guest's duty to sing for their supper? If a guest says that they are staying for two nights but surprises the host with four does the host have any recourse? Please help!!!

Thank you,
Ali

Dear Ali,

Well, you wouldn't actually want your guests to Sing. At least, not Incessantly. That would be Most Annoying, the EGs imagine.

But we know what you mean, Dear Reader. A guest is supposed to be Pleasant, Kind, Helpful, and In Good Spirits! Being Sullen or Nagging One's Hostess is Horribly Rude! Oh, Dear Reader, we do hope you have No Plans to Invite Her to Your Home again, no matter how much she Hints at It! If we really couldn't stomach hosting her any longer, we might have said something like, "Oh, gosh, Evelina, that might be a little hard for me to swing. It's been nice having you here, but I have a Big Work Project coming up and I really won't be able to be a Good Hostess. If you want to stick around in the city a while longer, I know several really nice hotels." This is, of course, assuming you can Carry This Off, and that you haven't said anything like, "Oh great, I'm so happy you're Coming to Town! Stay as Long as You Like! I mean it, I have NOTHING to do for the ENTIRE month of December, and I have Oodles of Space in my apartment!" (It would be Rather Bad to say something like that to Any Potential Guest, the EGs think-- you'd be Asking for Trouble.)

All best,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

First, thank you for your Lovely and Inspiring Column. It has been a Source of Joy for moi et mes copains. I have even linked to you on my website. But now I have a Dilemma that perhaps you can help me with.

Several weeks ago, I and mon tres cher ami sent a Gift Certificate to my Brother and His Bride-to-Be. It was sent express mail and did not reach them before they left for the Wedding; hence, it was eventually returned to The Shop.

The Shop called me sometime later to inquire how the gift might be delivered. I then emailed them to explain, sorrowfully, that while the Wedding took place as scheduled, four days later my Dear Brother passed away unexpectedly. They were So Sorry and credited my account.

What shall I do, dear EGs? My Dear Brother's Widow is in Pain. I do not wish to Trouble Her; yet, they were indeed married. I do not wish to ignore this fact by neglecting to give her something. And yet she is in No State to cope with Wedding Gifts.

Any suggestions, EGs? I await your advice.

Best wishes,
Sorrowful Sister

Dear Sorrowful Sister,

Let us first express Our Condolences to you. You have our Deepest Sympathy for the loss of Your Brother.

What a heart-breaking situation, Dear Reader. We commend you for trying to do the Right Thing... and we think thus far that you have. We agree that a Traditional Wedding-y Gift would not be Appropriate right now, given the circumstances. However, we do think that a gift presented to Your Brother's Widow in Memory of Him could be a beautiful and gracious thing to do. Perhaps you could make a Donation to Their Favorite Charity? Or purchase something that simply reminds you of Your Brother-- a framed photograph of a place that you associate with him, or a beautiful edition of a book you know he loved-- and give it to His Widow. You need not say it's in lieu of a Wedding Gift; you can just express Your Sympathy to her, and say, "I thought you might like to have this. It reminded me so much of my brother."

Most sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I would just like to comment that you have très helpful suggestions for our obnoxious world and we are deeply indebted. I have very fair skin. I am a bit of a purist and dislike damaging my skin by tanning or using those awful self-tanning lotions/sprays/etc. Besides, they always look orange. However, when I am around some of my tanning-booth-worshipping amies, it is awkward being the lightest. (It would be so much simpler if the fairest in the land were still considered so.) Should I opt for the booth or stand proud of my blanche hue?

Merci beaucoup,
Porcelain Princess in a Sun-Kissed World

Dear Porcelain Princess,

Holy Mary, Mother of God, STAY THE HELL OUT OF THE TANNING PARLORS!!!!!! The EGs think everyone should just Be Happy with their Natural Skin Tone and not seek to darken it, lighten it, or ANYTHING! The EGs do feel your pain, Dear Reader-- there is not space for us to begin to tell you how much Rudeness we have suffered because we are Very, Very Pale. Total Strangers have accused us of Being Vampires! People try to Stand Next to Us in Photos so that they will Look Tanner! It is Maddening! Dear Reader, take comfort in Feeling Superior. YOU will not look like a Weather-Beaten, Leathery Raisin when you are Older. YOU will be much, much less likely to get Skin Cancer. YOU will not contract some Terrible, Horrible Fungal Disease from the inside of a Tanning Booth. Now, Dear Reader, we are not telling you to Go Gloating about this, because then, no one will Like You, but please do not cave in to the pressure to Tan.

Best wishes,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Ok, I am having a "Holiday Gathering" this weekend. I sent out invites with a RSVP so that I can plan for food and drink. One couple responded very quickly with a "Yes, we will be there," and we have been talking about it for weeks. So I get a call today saying that well they got tickets to a ballgame to see their favorite team play in the rose bowl and they can't make it. I know they are die hard fans, but they committed to my party first. Should I be hurt or happy? Better yet, they are having a party next weekend, yet I haven't received an invitation. It was just mentioned, and I rearranged plans that I had made first in order to be able to make their party. Please help!

Second Fiddle to Football

Dear Second Fiddle to Football,

The EGs have No Patience for all of the following:

1) People who do not RSVP when requested to on an Invitation. What about "RSVP" is so difficult to Understand?!? The EGs have defined this Very Clearly in Our Book if anyone has any questions!

2) People who do RSVP and then Change Their Mind, due to Something Silly, like a Sporting Event, and make the Person Throwing The Party feel just awful!

Once you accept An Invitation, the only Possible Excuses for Changing Your Mind are

1) Illness or Death (yours or a Close Family Member's)

2) Unexpected, yet Very Important, Social or Work Obligations (e.g., your sister's fiancé has just learned he will be Shipping Out for Active Duty soon, and they have moved up Their Wedding Date; they choose a date which conflicts with an Invitation you have Previously Accepted).

3) Very Serious Circumstances Totally Beyond Your Control (e.g., you are in Another City on Business on Friday and plan to return that day because you are expected at A Dinner Party in Your Hometown on Saturday; unfortunately, a Large Blizzard swoops in Friday afternoon and closes all airports on the East Coast for four days straight).

Note that "Getting a Better Offer," of another party, a Date, theatre tickets, sporting event tickets, etc., is NOT AN ACCEPTABLE CAUSE TO BAIL! Dear Reader, you have Every Right to Feel Hurt. If your guests had even the Slightest Suspicion they were going to have to Miss Your Party to attend this game, they should not have accepted your invitation. If someone offered them tickets at the Last Moment, they really should have Refused the Tickets and come to Your Party instead. (And, incidentally, they should Not Whine About It, make themselves out to be Martyrs, insist on Watching the Game on TV during the Party, etc.)

This is, however, a Separate Issue from Their Party. Was a Verbal Invitation extended, and just Never Followed Up Upon, or do you just sort of know they're having a party without any Clear Indication that you're supposed to be Invited? It would be terribly rude of your friends to mention that they are having a Big Shin-Dig and then decide not to invite you to it, but then again, Dear Reader, we've established that this couple has No Understanding of How Invitations / RSVP-ing works, so who knows what they are thinking. Certainly not the EGs, in any case. We think you should go ahead and plan Something Else for the evening they're supposedly having a Party, and not give them a Second Thought. And of course, we'd Think Twice about including them in anything else that needs to be Planned In Advance, as they've proven themselves Selfish and Flighty.

Yours truly,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I wouldn't normally send you something this random, but you might like to visit http://rinkworks.com/dialect. Type in your web site address, select a dialect, and hit enter. Perhaps not the most mature site on the web, but the combination of franglais, random capitalization, and redneck is hilarious. Especially with a paper deadline looming over one's head.

Hope you enjoy it,
Jen

Dear Jen,

The EGs are Laughing So Hard we have knocked over a Bottle of Gin! HAHAHAHAHA! "Holy Mary Jane, Mammy of God"?!?!?! Dear Readers, if you want A Good Laugh, check out how the EGs would sound if we were Rednecks. The Hacker option is also Quite Amusing.

Fry mah hide,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Next week I will be meeting up with some Friends of my Grandparents (Lovely People) for Lunch or peut-être Un Café while they are Visiting my City. They recently got Engaged (at the Ages of 70 and 74!) and I would like to Congratulate them in the Appropriate Manner. Would giving them a Small Bunch of Beaux Fleurs be okay, or should I just express my Most Sincere Congratulations and enjoy the time I spend with them?

Merci!
Well-wisher

Dear Well-wisher,

Oh, How Sweet! Flowers would make a lovely gift, but if the couple is visiting your town, presenting them with flowers may be A Bit of A Hassle for them. If you take them to lunch, and they're planning An Afternoon of Museum-Going, it might be Un Peu Inconvenient to Tote the Flowers Around... or have to Drop Them Off at Their Hotel. Why not get them a Wee Something that will remind them of Their Trip? Is there a Local Specialty, like Maple Sugar Candy, that would be easier to Carry Around than Flowers? Or perhaps a Nice Book on Your City's History? If you want to do the Flowers, perhaps you could have a small arrangement sent to Their Hotel in advance of their arrival. We hope you have a Grand Time, and do convey the EGs' Best Wishes to the Happy Couple!

Cheers,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dearest Etiquette Grrls,

I happened upon your book last week while in a B&N and have since completed it, along with the archived articles on your website. Your insights are amusing and quite valid. I often wonder about the decay of the quality of students here at my school, and many of the atrocities you mentioned I have witnessed as well. For instance, last year during our Centennial Weekend, I was eating in our dining hall. To the left was a table of other students, while to my right was a table of distinguished-looking alums. One of my fellow students finished what to her was apparently a tasty dinner, because as she stood up to turn in her tray, she emitted a loud belch! May I remind you this is a prestigious women's college? The offender did not even offer an apology! I was, of course, embarrassed that one of my equals acted in such a manner. Is there a correct way to deal with this situation? I considered crawling under the table, but I wonder if there was a better way.

Thank you for all the useful advice offered. The EGs are fabulous role models in a world that desperately needs them (contrary to the popular belief of young girls everywhere, Britney Spears should not be emulated in any way). I only wish that there were more of you, especially at my school!

Yours Truly,
L.S.
Sweet Briar College

Dear L.S.,

Holy Mary, Mother of God! Are you saying this Girl PURPOSEFULLY BURPED and DID NOT EXCUSE HERSELF? The EGs are HORRIFIED, Dear Reader! We have a feeling that if this is just Question #2 of the Q&A, we're going to need a Whole Pitcher of G&Ts to get through it this week. Maybe Two.

In this situation, the EGs would employ the Icy Glare. You wouldn't, after all, wish to Cause a Scene in the Presence of Alums, but you would want The Burping One to feel Properly Embarrassed. We hope the Burping Episode took place Out of Earshot of the Alums. The EGs have an Idea, though-- perhaps one of those Alums might want to endow an Annual Etiquette Lecture Series (Mandatory for All Students, of course) to prevent This Sort of Thing from Ever Happening Again! The EGs' book would make a Perfect Textbook!

Speaking of TYNTBT, we are so glad you enjoyed it, Dear Reader! And finally, we must say that we have heard from many Dear Readers at Sweet Briar, and we are Absolutely Certain that Belching Girl is the Exception, Rather Than the Norm.

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Splendid site! I've spent hours pouring over your Q&A archives and I vow never to forget a thank-you note again.

I am currently the News Editor of my college paper at a Small, Southern Liberal Arts College. I adore working for the paper but I am having a small personal conflict with one of the Managing Editors (might I add that I am one of only two women on the whole nine-person editorial staff, and he routinely treats me in a very condescending manner?).

This Managing Editor loves to write articles for the News Section - which is fine in principle. He will announce that he is writing an article about Subject X, and then he refuses to abide by the deadlines all our other writers meet. This leaves us in a Very Large Quandary when laying out the week's paper. Often, what happens is that we have to guess at how much space his article will take up, and we're usually horribly wrong - which results in all our hard work being destroyed when Managing Editor comes in to "edit" our section and place his own article.

To make a long story short: How does one politely communicate the phrase, "Turn in the article by the deadline, or forget about having it in the paper" to someone who is technically a superior?

News Grrl

Dear News Grrl,

Hmmm, the Managing Editor doesn't seem to be Very Good at Managing Himself. The EGs wonder how the heck such an Irresponsible Person got to be in that Position! What a Vile Boy! It sounds as if he should be Sacked! Well, you have two options, Dear Reader... speak to His Boss (the Editor-in-Chief, we assume) and ask for input as to how to handle the situation, or just Be Gutsy and tackle it yourself. We think it would be a good demonstration of Your Leadership Skills (not to mention a Big Hint that You Should Have His Job) if you told him that his ignoring deadlines is Causing Problems, and that from now on, if you don't have his copy by the deadline, it will not make it in. And be prepared, of course, to Follow Through on this. You might want to create a Bit of a Paper Trail-- send him an e-mail like, "Dear Percival, Just wanted to confirm that we have you down for an article on 'This School Needs a Varsity Croquet Team Like I Need a Hole in My Head,' due this Wednesday at 8 PM. We're meeting to lay out the issue at 8:30 PM." Continue doing this until he gets the idea that a Deadline Is A Deadline, or until you Take Over Running Things and can demote him to, say, Refilling Toner Cartridges or Something.

Best wishes,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

My place of work will be hosting a Christmas dinner where we can each bring one guest. Would it be proper to bring my old boss who was terminated from the company to the dinner? Lower-level staff would like to see her, but upper-level would not. She is comfortable in attending. What should I do?

Asking for Trouble

Dear Asking for Trouble,

Good God, Dear Reader, do you want to commit Career Suicide? Right before the Holidays, no less? DO NOT BRING YOUR OLD BOSS. While we've all been in a position of wanting to Give Upper Management a (figurative) Slap In the Face, it's not smart for you to be The Underling Who Brought The Unwelcome Guest. Have a separate party Chez Toi for lower-level staff and invite your Old Boss. Then you can all Toss Back a Few and Gripe About the Executives, without fear of having a Pink Slip on your desk the next day.

Best of luck,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Who should say hello first, someone entering a room or the person who is already in the room?

Obsessed About This Issue

Dear Obsessed About This Issue,

Okay, FINE, the EGs Give Up. The EGs have been Entirely Perplexed at the number of times This Question, or a Variant Thereof, has been submitted in Recent Weeks. We have a mental image of two Desperate Souls, standing Silently in the Same Room, Endlessly Staring at Each Other, pausing only to e-mail the EGs every Five Minutes. This situation bodes Quite Poorly for Your Social Lives, Dear Perplexed Readers! Just say hello, already! No matter WHICH person you are! There are More Important Things for you to Worry Your Pretty Little Heads About!

This has been the EGs' Good Deed of The Day.

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

We are having a graduation celebration at a local restaurant. How do we state on the invitations that the guest is responsible for their own meal?

Would-Be Hostess

Dear Would-Be Hostess,

How about, "You Can Come to Our Party, but You'd Better Bring Your Wallet!"

Or, "We're Not Content With Your Company, or Even Any Gift You Might Bring, We Also Want You to Shell Out for Your Meal."

The EGs are Being Facetious, of course. Dear Reader, you simply cannot ask Guests to Pay For Themselves without committing a Terrible, Unforgivable Etiquette Faux Pas. If you throw the Party, you must Foot the Bill. Period, End of Story. If this means your party must be more Modest In Scale, or the Guest List Quite Limited, so be it-- you can still have a lovely party that everyone will enjoy without Breaking the Bank, or Breaking Major Etiquette Rules.

Yours truly,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I love your site, and your book is great. I don't have an etiquette question, but I thought I'd share a story that my friend told me recently that's both appalling and funny. My friend's parents were invited to a wedding of a friend from work. Now we know that it's horribly tacky to include a registry card in a wedding invitation, but I must say that it's even worse to hand out "wish lists" at work-- which is exactly what this bride-to-be did. When my friend's parents attended this wedding (with an expensive gift from the request list in tow) they were shocked to see that they were the only ones dressed appropriately for a wedding! Everyone else was wearing jeans and other casual clothes, including the bride and groom! It gets worse. The reception was held in a cafeteria and the food being served consisted of cheap beer, soda, and the main dish, rice and beans. And the tables were called up one by one to get their food (they had to serve themselves...). Does this horrify you as much as if horrified me?

A Dear Reader

Dear Dear Reader,

In a Word, Yes!!! Arrrgh! Pitcher Number Two of G&Ts will now surely be Necessary! We have Had It Up to Here with the Greediness that Comes Out at People's Weddings! Now, we have no problem with Modest Celebrations, such as Potlucks, Nice Picnics, Barbecues, Garden Teas, etc. These can be Quite Lovely, and honestly, no wedding guest should expect anything more than the pleasure of Sharing the Joy of the Day with the Newly-Married Couple. In fact, the EGs will take a Simple Buffet Reception held in the Bride's Parents' Back Yard over a Big, Splashy, "Look at how much money I dropped on this party" Reception (complete with Champagne Fountain, Dove Release, Horse-Drawn Carriage, Eight-Foot Tall Cake, and some sort of Laser Light Show set to a Bette Midler Medley) ANY DAY! To this point, one's impression of an event is colored so much by what one thinks of the People Hosting It. If the Young Couple had Very, Very Limited Means, but put a Lot of Effort into creating a pleasant gathering for Their Guests, they could have served Lemonade and Cookies and everyone would have had a Smashing Time. This Young Bride, however, seems to care primarily about How Much Stuff She'll Net, and that attitude would make the Most Elegant Reception in The World seem Tacky.

The EGs have Said This Before, but we'll say it again, in case anyone was Napping. Putting Registry Cards in ANY invitation, distributing "Wish Lists," etc., etc., is just The Height Of Rudeness (THOR). The EGs don't approve of Greediness! Ever!

We're so happy you like our site and our book, Dear Reader! Perhaps it might make an Ideal Present for these Newlyweds, who clearly Could Use It.

All best,
The Etiquette Grrls

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

Yesterday I held a dinner party that had over twenty guests. My adult sister-in-law watched from the couch as I prepared the meal, cleaned the home and greeted guests. After the meal, while the guests were conversing, she laid on the sofa and fell asleep, taking up the most comfortable sitting location and leaving the others to sit elsewhere. I expressed concern for her lack of manners to my man, who said she "just got tired." I think I am in etiquette hell. Do you have any advice for me?

Thanks,
Tonya

Dear Tonya,

Why yes, of course the EGs have Advice for You! (That's kind of like asking if the EGs have an Adequate Supply of Gin on Hand at All Times, or if the Pope is, in fact, Catholic. Tee hee.) While you wouldn't, as the hostess, expect one of your guests to help you prepare the meal or to greet guests for you, it is Beyond Appalling for someone to Sprawl on the Sofa and sleep while the party is still going on! The EGs think if you are that tired, and obviously do not desire Anyone Else's Company, you should Damn Well Stay Home! If one should, for any reason, become Simply Overcome with Fatigue, to the point where one is in danger of Falling Asleep in One's Soup, one must Take One's Leave, avec many apologies to the hostess. Our advice: don't invite your Sister-in-Law to any future Dinner Parties. We're sure the Rest of Your Guests won't miss her!

Very truly yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

 

Privacy policy | Copyright 2003, The Etiquette Grrls |