Monday, December 8, 2008

Quiz: Do You Know Who Emily Post Is?

Have you ever heard of a thing called etiquette? Apparently, many people haven't, especially the "rising generation". I guess etiquette is kind of old fashioned. It was even when I was growing up. That didn't stop my parents from raising us with a very defined guide to good manners. We did things that certainly none of my friends did. We had family rules for many situations.

Rules for answering the phone:
If it was for someone other than you who was home the conversation went:
You: Hello?
Caller: Is your mother there?
You: Yes, just one moment please.
Always. Always the exact same phrase.

If it was for someone other than you who was not home the conversation went:
You: Hello?
Caller: Is your mother there?
You: No, I'm sorry, she isn't. May I take a message?
Again, no variation here, ever.

(You may notice that in these examples the caller is always requesting my mother. That was usually the way it worked.)

It was for you:
You: Hello?
Caller: Is (insert your name here) there?
You: This is she.
I was shocked in college to her my roommate say "This is her". She had to tape a sign over the phone that said "This is SHE" so she would say it properly.

Just a side note, in Romania the conversation would go like this:
You: Hello!
Caller: Is (insert your Romanian name here) there?
You: I am!
I just always loved that short and precise declaration "I am!". In Romanian they say "sunt". Just one word - even better.

Other ways in which we showed proper etiquette were things like not starting to eat your dessert until the hostess first took a bite of hers. We ended up amending this rule slightly to "unless the dessert includes ice cream" because my mom was notoriously slow at taking her first bite and everyone's ice cream would be quite melt-y by the time she finally settled down.

We also never wore white dress shoes or nylons before Easter or after Labor Day. As we got older we could wear "winter white" or cream, but not true white.

When we finished eating our dinner we always said "May I please be excused?" before leaving our places.

We said "excuse me" when we sneezed or yawned. Other bodily functions were not allowed :).

When we went to bed, we always gave our parents good night kisses on the cheek, and if our grandparents were visiting, we had to give them good night kisses on the cheek too, which I never really wanted to do.

Even when I was an adolescent my peers thought all of this was strange. I was given a nickname by friends of "Miss Priss", because they felt I and my family were so prim and proper. I never minded, and I still don't. I like it. I hope to pass much of it on to my kids, even if other people think it's strange. I feel it will be easier now that we live in Texas. In fact, my kids may be seen as the ill-mannered ones because they don't refer to Tyler and me as "Sir" and Ma'am".


hi, i'm nancy! said...

Wendy, you don't know me, but I came across your blog a few weeks ago and I love it.

As for manners, oh boy, did you strike a chord! Yes, yes, and yes! My brother and I were taught ALL of these things and although our level of manners was probably above most of our friends, still, most of our friends were expected to behave themselves, too.

The world certainly has changed hasn't it.

By the way, one of my mom's dearest friends lives in Tyler, Texas!

Rachel said...

Your excellent manners is one of the things I love the most about you.

Laura said...

I agree with Rachel! See, isn't it good manners to be agreeable?

I feel like I was raised with good manners, but not as proper as yours. I still appreciate that my parents taught me appropriate things...and it still irritates me when others don't abide by them. My friends in high school actually called me Emily for a time - referring to Emily Post!