Dear Helen Hartman,
I see you are doing a guest post for Tammy at Type A where you promise to talk about how to be a good guest. Hmmm. Putting the responsibility onto the guest? Isn’t that just your sneaky way of trying to get people to make things easier for you as a hostess? Love to see you explain THAT.
Dear Loves to Challenge Helen on her Own Turf About Being a Bad Guest thereby Demonstrating Helen’s Point That Guests Need as Much Help as Hostesses One,
The answer to your question is Yes.
|That was simple. Now all I have to do if fill up the rest of page with nannie-nannie-boo-boos and my work is done.|
More? Oh, all right. Manners grease the cogs of social and business interaction. They make our activities, our obligations and even our choices more pleasant. When you get right down to it, that is the goal of good manners – to make things easier.
So Gi Gi La Boom Boom isn’t easy… she’s the politest girl in town!
Some people equate manners with stuffiness and pretentiousness. For example, those people might feel intimidated when confronted with things like a formal table setting. But all those utensils aren’t there to make you feel inadequate. They’re there to give you the right tools to tackle the task at hand – dinner with others.
|I forget, Nana, when someone tries to eat off my plate, do I stab them with my salad fork or flip mashed potatoes into their eyes with my soup spoon?|
Just as the host or hostess has a duty to make each guest comfy, the guest has some expectations as well. For starters if you are visiting Helen, bring a gift.
|A REAL gift. Not one of those, "something came up so I don't have it with me right now" imaginary things... like your boyfriend, Donald.|
The same can be applied when visiting a blog, btw. If you have enjoyed your visit it is nice to leave a comment. It’s like a gift to the host but also can be like a calling card so your host can hunt you down and make you pay for that vase you broke. I mean, return the favor.
|The calling card my Great Grandfather included with a letter asking to visit my Great Grandmother in 1878|
Amy Vanderbilt… you know any discussion of vintage manners at some point HAS to include Amy… devotes no less than 24 pages to the role of being a guest in someone’s home (not including parties, events, etc). She handles such important issues as the ‘eligible’ woman - who should designate more than one male acquaintance to help with hosting “to avoid speculation”, btw.
|Miriam had only wanted to be a good hostess but somehow she doubted this weiniefest would do much to avoid speculation.|
In the nearly 3 pages worth of ‘ways infuriate your hostess’ Amy mentions putting one’s shod feet on furniture, standing on furniture, tipping back one’s chair, strewing paper, ordering about the servants, rising early and coming to breakfast in one’s pajamas.
|Let's get real here. If I can't rise early, wear my jammies all day, jump on the furniture and boss around your servants then I might as well stay home.|
And by no means should a guest, in Amy’s rarified world, make an ash of herself! In two separate rules Amy V lets us know we are not to flick our ashes even into the fireplace and we must never drop our butts in the dishes, the food, the potted plants…
|Okay, I am lovin' the look and the attitude if not the message of chide the smoker, love the smoking|
Don’t get me wrong, Helen has all kinds of respect for the iconic Amy Vanderbilt. Professional respect... grudging respect… feigned respect…
But what to do with one’s ciggie is not an issue any guest would have to consider at a visit to Helen’s.
Light up. I dare you. You’ll be lucky if you can even FIND your butt.
|"Helen may have pushed us off the boat, leaving us adrift at sea but at least we have a raft and our smokes to get us by... until she unleashes the sharks."|
I guess, in the end, what being a good guest, or a good host is about is having the grace to look past the infuriating flicking and strewing and attempts on one’s life for smoking in the house and just enjoying each other. And gifts. Don’t forget the gifts.
Joining Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
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