Note to self: Find other time besides dusk to take photos. Need better lighting.
Also pictured: one of the cutest cups in the world.
I have a healthy throng of how-to books, particularly when it comes to cooking and entertaining. But scattered among them are a few guidebooks simply on how to be nice. I think I picked up one of the Miss Manners books from a library sale, but the others were gifts. I’m not sure what the gift of “Here, have a book on how not to be an ass,” says (you know…other than that), but I do enjoy thumbing through them.
Reading through Emily Post’s Etiquette: Manners for a New World is like listening to propriety lessons from my parents, particularly regarding my inclination to report various events to “The Internets.” I love the wit in Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. It reminds me of punctuation nerd conversations about the Oxford comma. And Don’t: A Manual of Mistakes and Improprieties More or Less Prevalent in Conduct and Speech is fun to read aloud to captive guests.
And that’s all I want for these manuals to be in my house- fun. Yes, it’s important to have good manners, or as Peggy Post puts it, “a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.” It’s nice to be polite. But “good” and “polite” according to whom? In writing Feast, I have wrestled with this conundrum. What seems like good manners to some people is stiff, dull, and unnecessary to others. And to hold others to a standard of behavior that really speaks more to certain personality quirks, certain cultural norms (i.e., whiteness), and certain tactical preferences than to real other-awareness seems to accomplish exactly the opposite of what it claims to intend. Rude.
I would like to hear more diverse voices in the area of etiquette.