Sunday, January 15, 2012

Make Your Best Guest

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  

Learning about BlogLovin': <a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/2433481/dear-helen-hartman?claim=vjr646gxvc3">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

36 comments:

  1. Got it. The next time I drop by your place I'm bringing a gift. Enjoyed the post! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here is my gift, O gracious hostess, Helen...

    HEHEHEHEHEHEHEHE! Laughter and smiles all over your blog...

    How'd I doodie?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh gee I haven't had a good ol butt kickin in a loooooog time. Maybe I should drop by and gift you with a pack of unopened ciggies. I haven't smoked in oh let's see ...Easter makes 18 years so they might be a tad bit stale. I am told ex-smokers are the worst complainers. Are you an ex-smoker too. Oh well, I am sure smoking was a social thing back in the day. I am sure Miss V had to write about it as well. Did you know ciggies are $10 a pack in AZ? Thank God. That was enough to help my sister quit.~Amescigarettes.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you Karen, Thank you Gwen. Very lovely gifts. Heading your way to do likewise.

    ReplyDelete
  5. P.S. my name isn't really Amescigarettes. You see I've had the DT's for the last 18 years and I seem to mispell a lot of words. :( ~Ames

    ReplyDelete
  6. LOL Ames! No, not a smoker, just grew up with TWO. I had no idea how much smoke was in every molecule of my life until I grew up and moved out! There is something empowering about living in a house I KNOW has never been smoked in!(now the deck, the garage, the driveway, the yard, family members have certainly puffed a plenty out there).

    ReplyDelete
  7. Funny like on Madmen, everyone smoked whenever, whereever when I was growing up. Now , it's like you need to live in a leper colonly to smoke.lol. I never did like it thank God, or I woulda been a fiend!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I WAS a fiend (3-4 packs a day) till 1999, and I've gotta say that I am so glad I don't have to figure out where to put those pesky butts anymore. I'm also glad my hair, clothes, fingers, car and house don't smell like smoke. I'm a much better guest now. :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. When I visit I'll do my best to treat your servants well. Lucky girl, my fingers are wet with dish soap as I type:@)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG I am such a dope. I could have been hitting REPLY! I didn't even notice it there. Talk about a bad hostess. I love how much of Amy V's famous etiquette book mentions servants (in this same guest section is a whole part about how to address the servants and the NEIGHBOR's servants! This was 1952, btw)

      Delete
  10. Zootsuitmama - sometimes on old tv clips people even smoked while chatting on Carson! I rememver big ashtrays everywhere, even doctor's waiting rooms. Wild, huh?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Dana - I certainly don't judge smokers. Heaven knows I have enough habits to know it's not easy to quit one. I bet you are a darling guest.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dear Helen, love that crazy photo of yours on the header! LOL! You're awesome!
    Thanks for dropping by my place and your sweet comment. Hope you stick around!
    Love, Olga

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Olga - loved visiting your blog as well.

      Delete
  13. There's a reply option? Well I'll be. That's gotta be new. I have not seen anyone else using it either. It's not you, it's them!0

    Hint for guests, do not let your 80 pound 6 year old hang climb up and hang off the front of the 40 gallon aquarium. If you want him to live that is. I say spare the child and kill the parents!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes, that sounds like a precarious situation but if you do in the parents you may end up raising the rowdy child!

      Delete
  14. Darlin' this is just great. This Ozark Farm Chick thinks that real manners have almost become a lost art. I try to be a good guest at both others homes and blog alike.

    If I take the time to visit and read a post...I'm leavin' a comment.

    Now don't get me started on parent's not bein' parents, seems NO is not in many's vocabularies. 'Nuff said!

    God bless ya sweet lady and have yourself a fantastic week!!! :o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment. I'm off to visit your blog and say something great about it.

      Delete
  15. Hey sweetie, I just wanted to pop over and thank you for your visit and hoppin' on my blog. I sure hope ya'll enjoy the ride!

    God bless and in the words of that wacky old Granny Clampett, "Ya'll come back now, ya hear!!! "

    Have a terrific evenin' girl! :o)

    ReplyDelete
  16. I recently watched the Original Thomas Crown Affair on DVD the other night. Seriously. One cig after another. Love that movie...but WOW! I promise I'd bring you fun hostess goodies, if I came to visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kim - yes, old movies, you wonder how they got them on film for all the smoke!

      Delete
  17. 24 pages on how to be a guest at someone's house....yikes! We don't know if we'd be able to pay attention that long ~ good grief! Dear Helen, if we are to have a party, should we send these pages with the invitation....or would this be in bad taste? lol!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For a party, you'd need to send the whole book. It's almost 800 pages. THAT should keep people away.

      Delete
  18. Love the whole idea behind your blog :) Great post!

    www.rosehorseshoe.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Marija - going off to visit your blog back as I am polite like that!

      Delete
  19. Sadly, I have shown up without a gift. I left it in the car. Sorry. Will do better next time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right, Christy, like I'm falling for THAT!

      Delete
  20. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Replies
    1. Pssst, it was a cheapie my mil gave me. I hated it so much I might actually have broken it and blamed a guest. Not confessing, just sayin.

      Delete
  22. So I guess what your saying is dat da Puddles, dat would be me, shouldn't go to somebuddies house and getrs drunk and swing from their chandeliers? Well dat just sucks.
    Since I is a dog, does manners include me?

    Hehehehehe, my mum is crackin' up overs your bloggie...we loves it.

    Puddles

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Swinging from chandeliers is okie doike, Puddles. Amy V never even mentions that. But be careful how you address the neighbor's servants! (no first name, if you want to know)

      Delete
  23. hahah at "lucky if you can find your butt" - that made me laugh hard! I'll remember the gift if you promise to forgive me for that Vase breakage ;o) Scarlett x

    ReplyDelete
  24. I can only read 2 posts per day, dear Helen. I'm laughing so hard the tears are blocking my eyes...where do you get these pictures?

    ReplyDelete

Loved To Have Their Own Say In Things Ones say:

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...