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The Etiquette Grrls' Q & A Archive: October 2002

Hi,

I am writing to you in regards to thank-you notes.

When someone gives our family a gift, takes time to cook us a lovely dinner, does something above and beyond what is expected... the very next day I express my happy feelings with words of thankfulness in a form of a thank-you note. I have two sets of friends who requested that I do not send them any more thank-you notes. One had threatened not to be my friend anymore. To me this was a big slap in the face. For: 1. I thought this was the right thing to do. 2. I enjoy it. 3. I have a stuttering problem and it is easier to share my thoughts and feelings with pen and paper then through verbal communication.

I am at a loss-- can one over-do saying thank-you?? Why would someone not want a thank-you note??

Confused in Raleigh

Dear Confused in Raleigh,

WHAT?!? Your friends asked you NOT to send them thank-you notes anymore? One of them threatened not to be YOUR friend anymore because of this? Holy Hell, Dear Reader, they sound like Horrible, Terrible, Inexcusably Rude People who clearly do not appreciate you-- you should be the one Ending Friendships avec THEM!

You are doing Absolutely Nothing Wrong, Dear Reader. You sound Gracious and Kind-- you should continue writing thank-you notes exactly as you have been, and if anyone else has a Problem with this, the EGs will personally come to Raleigh and give them a Good, Swift, Well-Deserved Kick in the Shins!

Very truly yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I have been called to Jury Duty in December, and plan to wear a skirt with a nice blouse and coordinating sweater or jacket. However, last time I served I recall people wearing très casual clothing, even jeans. Would you be so kind as to outline what is appropriate attire for both men and women while Doing One's Civic Duty, as this appears to be a sadly neglected topic in the lives of many? If I was on trial, I wouldn't want my fate in the hands of people who don't even know how to dress themselves properly!

Would you also agree with me that members of the Jury should NOT take calls on their cell phones during deliberation, and refuse to turn in a guilty verdict because they "need to get back to work and don't have time for this"?

Thank you for being your delightful selves!

Sincerely,
Randi of the Many Questions

Dear Randi,

Of COURSE one should be Properly Dressed when one reports for Jury Duty!!! The EGs have never actually been seated on a Jury-- actually, although we've technically been called to Jury Duty a few times, we've only had to report once. EGL reported for Jury Duty between her Freshman and Sophomore years of college, and she was Absolutely Appalled at what others in the Courthouse were wearing! "Coed Naked" t-shirts were everywhere, as were cutoff jeans and tank tops-- had EGL mistakenly wandered into the room where Criminals Awaiting Trial were held? Skanky, Vile Criminals, at that?? No, a sign upon the wall informed her. These were Other Potential Jurors. As EGL sat there, in her Nice Summer Suit, and attempted to ignore the Daytime Television show which was blaring from a nearby TV, she took comfort in the fact that she was Doing Her Civic Duty. However, after a mere six hours, EGL was Unceremoniously Dismissed, without even a Glimpse of a Real Trial. At that point, EGL decided that The Legal Life was Not For Her, so we suppose that overall, that was a Very Good Learning Experience. But for Heaven's Sake, Dear Reader, the point of this long reminiscence is that One Must Dress Appropriately when one is In Court! And we mean when one is playing any part in a Trial-- the Jurors, the Attorneys, the Spectators, the Plaintiff, the Defendant, the Stenographer, the Witnesses, the Judge, and anyone else who Sets Foot in a Courtroom must be wearing Appropriate Attire. Just because you've gotten the Day Off from Work to sit on the Jury does not mean you can show up in Sweatpants! Suits are a Fine Choice, as would be a business-y dress or skirt and blouse for a Girl, or a nice pair of dressy pants avec a sportcoat and tie for a Boy.

As for the second part of your question, well, the EGs would Certainly Hope that the Honorable Judge giving instructions to the Jurors would make it Perfectly Clear that Cell 'Phones were Verboten! And if we overheard another member of a Jury make remarks like, "I need to get back to work and don't have time to discuss this; let's just call him Not Guilty so we can Leave," we would Pass a Wee Note to the Judge about it!

Legally yours (as opposed to, ugh, Legally Blonde),
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Dear EGs,

I'm sure you must be inundated with e-mails from people in need of your advice, but I hope you are able to take a few moments to help me with a problem that I am trying to solve.

I work in a very well known and respected law firm. I am working with a new associate who joined our firm this year. The lady (for lack of a better word) insists on turning every work-related conversation into a fully-detailed description of her latest escapade with whatever man she dragged home from clubbing on the weekend (or worse, about lawyers in our other offices). It makes for some very uncomfortable situations.

If this were the only thing that bothered me about her, I'm sure I could try to ignore it or accept it as part of my day. However, she has terrible manners in almost everything she does. Her speech is peppered with "like, you know, totally" and any other horrid expression that must've come straight from Romy & Michelle's High School Reunion. She walks around the office while eating, spilling food in her path. She speaks while eating (spitting bits of food while speaking). Honestly, ladies, I cannot get into every single faux pas that this person commits on a daily basis.

I understand that it is probably a result of being ill-bred, however, I really think that I am going to lose it some day and scream at her (which is not in my nature at all).

I was considering purchasing your book for her as a Christmas gift, as I own it, and think it is a fabulous guide. I am not sure, however, what the correct way to go about giving this book to her would be. Surely, I do not want to appear rude by pointing out to her that she 'needs to be told', yet, she truly does need to be told!

Please help,
Ready to Explode

Dear Ready to Explode,

Well, the EGs have heard of many people purchasing Our Book as a Take-a-Hint Gift-- leaving it in sans explanation on the Desk of a Rude Person. However, if you think this could Backfire, you have Other Options. What about starting a Discussion about it over lunch? "I read the most useful book recently! Really, it's just Chock-Full of Helpful Advice that everyone needs to read." Get another colleague to join in-- "Oh, I've heard of that! You know, we should all read it-- I bet plenty of us do Uncouth Things all the time without even noticing, and it'd be so great to learn what they are." Then, later on, you leave a copy on Miss Rudeness' Desk, with a little note-- "Thought I'd pass this around to all who were at lunch. Check out the At Work chapter especially. It's Super-Keen!" Then watch for Miss Rudeness' Manners to improve.

Sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

What is the name of the person that created the rule of not wearing white shoes after Labor Day come from - and when was it created - and where?

Very, Very Curious

Dear Very, Very Curious,

1. Mabel Millicent Mehithabelle Swatterthwaite.

2. July 24, 1849, at approximately 3:39 P.M.

3. The Wilds of Montana.

The EGs are not the Ready Reference Desk!!! Dear Reader, if you need facts of this nature-- and we can't imagine for what purpose you need them-- we recommend you visit Your Local Library.

Most sincerely yours,
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

My sister recently had a baby and chose the same middle name for it as I did for my child who is now two, without asking how I felt about it. While I understand that the name is after our deceased Grandfather whom we both share, and I don't necessarily feel that she needed my permission, I do feel that it was a breach of etiquette to not ask me about my feelings. Am I right?

Miffed Mom

Dear Miffed Mom,

Ummmm... nope. We realize that's not the answer you probably wanted to hear, but that's Our Opinion. You don't have Exclusive Rights to use a name-- particularly one which is a Family Name to Begin With-- and your sister has every right to give her child any name she wants without consulting you, or anyone else. Why shouldn't she be able to honor your grandfather in the same manner you did?

Yours truly,
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Hi EGs,

Your site is Darling... Here's my question: I am a Bridesmaid in a wedding in two weeks, and I am Sick to Death of the Horrifying Faux Pas that continue to occur. I'll not bore you with the details, but we'll just say that everything you shouldn't do has been done, and Worse. The Most Recent, and Most Offensive, is the "invitation" (printer paper) I received earlier this week to a "lingerie dinner party" at a local restaurant, hosted by the bride's sister, which informed me of the bride's sizes and that the "dinner" will be "dutch treat." How, I ask you, can you "host" a dinner that guests must pay to attend? As a Bridesmaid, is there a Reasonable Way to Avoid Attending without Being A Complete Jerk? I have Full Intentions of Presenting her with a Lovely and Elegant Natori Gown and Robe, but would prefer not to do it over Chicken Fingers and Mozzarella Sticks.

I'd love to hear your thoughts (please don't use my name, I'd hate for her to see this).

Sincerely,
Baffled Bridesmaid

Dear Baffled Bridesmaid,

Oh, Dear. A "lingerie dinner party"? Ugh. The EGs think that sounds Most Unappetizing, to say the Least. Well, Dear Reader, how involved with the planning of this Lovely (snicker, snicker) Soiree have you been? If from the very beginning, you knew a Shower of Some Sort was in the works for a Particular Date, and you said you Were Definitely Free, it probably wouldn't be very nice to back out now. (If you must attend, console yourself with this: the Bride may have No Idea that Her Sister-- who should not be hosting this anyway, really-- is putting together such a Horrorshow Event; surely then Your Presence would be comforting. Be prepared to mix up a few Good, Stiff Drinks afterward for the Poor Dear!) However, if the first you heard of this Shindig was via an invitation in the mail, it certainly wouldn't be inconceivable that you have a Very Important Business Dinner that, sadly, you can't miss, and while you Certainly Wish you could get out of it, you will just have to be with the group In Spirit since you can't be there In Person. Or something like that.

With best wishes,
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I have just finished reading your book, and I truly enjoyed it. Several times, you caution against wearing one's pajamas in public places. I, of course, would never leave my house in my pajamas! However, I was wondering if the Etiquette Grrls have any recommendations about what sort of pajamas are Appropriate for a well-bred person to wear?

Thank you,
Gia

Dear Gia,

Really nice pajamas are just So Fabulous, Dear Reader! Really, you should choose the style you find most comfortable, but it's nice to have a Good Wardrobe of different P.J.'s, from Nice Crisp Cotton pajamas to Cozy Flannel ones! The flannel ones will come in very handy when one's Boiler decides to Go Belly-Up, and it is Very Chilly in One's c. 1910 House, even though it is Early October, and the soonest one can get the Damn Gas Company in to Replace It is a Few Weeks Away (not that this is currently happening to one of the EGs at this very moment, and not that she is Getting Pretty Darn Tired of It). In the summer, Linen Pajamas are Really Swell, if you don't mind the effort of Ironing Them (as are Linen Sheets, but Linen Pajamas are a bit easier on the Pocketbook). Matched sets, of course, are Key.

Yours truly,
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Hello! I love your site and have been reading it every week for some time now.

A friend has very kindly invited us to have dinner with her and her husband at their home in the near future. I would like to return her kindness and get her a small gift, but she does not like flowers or the like and they are preparing to move! This lady and I have never really gotten along well until very recently, and I'd like to avoid getting her anything that I am even slightly unsure about. I have asked her husband, but he is no help. Any thoughts on what I could get her?

Puzzled

Dear Puzzled,

What about a nice box of Chocolates, or something you Baked? Chances are, she and her family will Polish It Off in No Time Flat, and they won't have to trouble themselves to Pack It for the Move.

We're so happy you like our site! Please keep visiting us!

Fondly,
The Etiquette Grrls

martini

Dear Etiquette Grrls,

I recently received an invitation to a wedding and it was addressed to : "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Fly." I found out that "Fly." was an abbreviation for "family"! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Is this correct?!

Thank you so much for your help,
Just Wondering

Dear Just Wondering,

No, Dear Reader, they really mean that you and your spouse are invited, and you may bring one (1) Fly. BYOFly parties are really All the Rage among Those Who Know. Bzzz! Bzzz! Why do you think very cool things are referred to as "Fly"?

Of course, the EGs are Pulling Your Leg, Dear Reader. Tee hee! No, we've never heard of using "Fly." as an Abbreviation for Family. The Hostess must have gotten Un Peu de Writer's Cramp whilst addressing the envelopes-- that's the only explanation we can think of.

We still think it would've been Quite Amusing if you'd brought a Wee Fly (well, naturally, all Flies are By Nature Wee, except of course for those Giant Ones found in Sci-Fi Movies, but you know what we mean, Dear Reader).

Cheers,
The Etiquette Grrls

 

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