“Is this the 1850s?” I can hear you asking. “Etiquette? Do we still have to worry about that?” Yes, we do. Proper etiquette not only leaves a good impression, it can get you out of any sticky situation. Like what to do if you are simultaneously overcome by dehydration and altitude sickness at your friend’s rehearsal dinner on the side of a mountain in Park City, Utah. Or if you open your big mouth and say something you shouldn’t have, which is then repeated to everyone. Or if two different people try to “save” you within 10 minutes in the same coffee shop. These have all happened to me in the last YEAR. (I’m a little disaster-prone.) Etiquette saved me from total embarrassment. And, trust me, it can save you, too.
Etiquette is more than just how to eat with the right fork. It’s about knowing how to dress appropriately for any occasion and the kind of language to use in every situation. One should always note that it is nearly impossible to use coarse language with dignity. Ergo, try to avoid saying “Shit!” every time you drop your pen on the floor. Eventually, your boss will be standing in the doorway. He will then probably ask you to refrain from swearing in front of clients. You will not give him the finger behind his back because it’s inappropriate. (Okay, I did that last one. It’s not like he could see me.) Incidentally, etiquette is also about knowing how to quit your horrible job with your awful boss.
In this column, I will cover not only social situations, but also appropriate business etiquette. I will look at old etiquette rules and books to discuss changing views and modes of social behavior. (For instance, did you know that you’re supposed to eat French fries with a fork and asparagus with your fingers? I would NEVER DO THAT. Asparagus should not be a finger food.) Finally, I would love to answer your burning etiquette questions, which I will never hesitate to research. And then throw out that research with a laugh and give you my best guess. Think of me as your personal, sassy Emily Post.
Etiquette is important. If you’ve done the polite thing, no one can ever say you did the wrong thing. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go figure out place settings. No matter how many times my grandmother drills that one into me, I always forget.