Sunday, September 12, 2010

Emily Post

I was reading through the October issue of Vanity Fair and I was astounded to read that two-thirds of Americans have no clue who Emily Post was.   This was shocking to me but in some ways it makes me wonder about many things.  
Lindsay Lohan on the cover

When I was in fifth grade (public school), etiquette was a part of the curriculum.  Did anyone else have etiquette classes in school?   In these classes we learned basic table manners, how to introduce people, how to answer the phone, restaurant tips (seriously), etc.   There are illustrations from our book that I still remember to this day.   My older brother went to a different elementary school and the year they had their etiquette classes, they also had ballroom dancing classes once a week.  My school didn't have that but I would have loved it!   When I was in junior high, I took a charm class.  Charm classes were offered through a local department store or our recreation department.   It was in the charm school girls learned how to sit, walk and get in and out of cars.  My husband and I laugh about this all the time because I need lessons in getting in and out of low-lying cars and SUVs!!! 

In my husband's family they lived more formally so there weren't need for lessons.  They did and still do have "protocol" for nearly every facet of daily living.   It is something about my husband and his family that I've always appreciated.  The dress code when visiting is a little more formal but I love it!

One of the salons in my mother-in-law's home
Reading the VF poll made me think - are we losing our good manners?   On our blogs we all enjoy seeing some amazing tablescapes, but no one is ever sitting at the table.  Most of the working mothers I know are feeding their families in between extracurricular activities.  How may families actually sit down for evening dinner anymore?

In the office, we frequently have business etiquette consultants who remind everyone in the workplace what is appropriate office behavior.  It's funny but this summer one of our interns wouldn't answer his phone when anyone called him but if he did his response was "yep."  

It is also amazing to me that RSVP has lost its meaning.  I can't tell you how many times when getting ready for events at work or parties at home, I'm guessing the head count.  These days people are less likely to respond to an invitation.

Let's not forget electronic device etiquette - driving and texting, in the checkout line, a restaurant, hair salon or doctor's office all while talking on the cell.  And call waiting drives me crazy.  How often has it happened that someone calls you and then says, "Oh, I'm getting another call - hold on a minute."  Is all of this necessary?

From Wikipedia:
Etiquette (pronounced [,eti'ket]) is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group

Guess some of these new behaviors are just another part of "the new norm."


  1. We didn't have etiquette classes in school when I was growing up. We did learn them at home though. No ball room dancing either. We did have to learn square dancing in elementary school - lol. Boys hated that.

    I know exactly what you are talking about though. I can't tell you how many times I have had a door slam into my face when the person that is walking through it in front of me, just lets it go.

  2. No etiquette classes in school for me either but I learned them at home and then took a 'charm school class'. Oh yes how to walk and sit. Funny! Still I agree with how little manners so many young folks have now days.

  3. Ah, Cheryl, you are playing my song.
    There were etiquette classes when I went to school, but the best class was at my mother's table. When our children were small, and we'd have other children over for dinner I would often be told that they'd never sat at a table to eat - seriously - everyone in the family would eat in front of a TV, and not at the same time. I've always believed that good manners have the primary aim of making other people comfortable - still believe it!

  4. No one has manners any more.. .. Ok that is extreme. Lots of folks have no manners. I do hope manners catch on again.


  5. We didn't have etiquette classes at school either but we always just knew what was acceptable and what wouldn't do. A hot lunch and dessert were provided at school (that was all schools) and the children sat at octagonal tables with 7 kids and a teacher. Just from seeing it every day we knew how a basic table should be set, how to indicate we didn't like something without giving offence. It doesn't happen now. Our mum was always proud to say she could take us kids anywhere and we would always remember our manners.

  6. Girl, you're fixing to get me on one of my soapboxes!!!! I hate BAD manners and unfortunately there are a lot of them out there! I did not take any classes in school (well, we did learn some etiquette in 8th grade home-ec) but my mother sure made certain I used good manners...or else! We southerners are supposed to be famous for our etiquette, charm, and good manners but I'm afraid much of that has gone by the wayside. I mean...don't you just love to walk or drive down the street and see these young guys' underwear???? If my son had ever even thought of doing such I would have skinned him alive! RSVP??? I think it's unheard of these days! You can ask for it all you want and still won't receive replies...which in my opinion is just plain rude! I'm still a firm believer in etiquette and good manners and will at least "attempt" to teach them to my grandchildren...and hopefully I will be sucessful. (OK, enough said...told you it was one of my soapboxes!!!)

  7. Dear Jojo, thank you so much for your Congrats! Of course the book will be avaliable in the USA - just wait till Feb and find it on amazon... hugs, Mira!

  8. I went to Catholic School, and the nuns were very much about good manners, as my parents were.
    As a retired teacher I have to say that as the years went on it was obvious no one was teaching manners at home. I tried to work it in the best I would to daily lessons. I am all over my gkids about good table manners!

  9. Cheryl, a friend and I JUST had this conversation!! I am constantly arguing with my own children who insist I'm the only person they know who "follows those old ways". I find it sad that manners don't seem as important- to me manners and kindness go hand in hand. Manners are simply a form of consideration for others
    xoxo Pattie

  10. No etiquette classes in school for me, but I learned them at home and then was sent to a finishing school - Patricia Stevens - in Chicago and I took it all year long on Saturdays. Complete with fencing. We learned everything.

    I still think I would have turned out with manners.

    Can't say the kids of today have a lot of manners though.


  11. I, like Kathleen, went to Catholic school where the nuns stressed good manners all the time as we were growing up.

    Sadly, I think modern culture does not promote manners as much as it used to, Cheryl. The popularity of "Reality TV" seems to devote itself to people who are less than admirable...fighting housewives, dysfunctional young adults, people scheming to win endurance contests at any costs, talk shows full of dysfunctional people and their problems, etc. Very sad.

  12. Hi Cheryl! AAARGH! Yes, good manners are now gone...sadly! I can tell you that from the changes I saw over the years while teaching school. Now it's all about not wanting to be "disrespected" (Since when did "disrespect" become a verb???)No one is at all concerned about respecting others first! Great post...sad, but true! Have a great week!...hugs...Debbie

  13. Boy you are so right...Good manners are long gone...We grew up dressing up nice to fly...infact we still sweatpants for me on an airplane even if it's to Europe...Daughter and her husband do the same..and I was so proud to hear when they recently were in Italy that the SIL wore a suit and tie when they visited the Vatican..I saw pictures from the trip and the people waiting in line looked like slobs...

  14. Sad...Emily Post is such an icon...I was shocked to read this statistic (though it does explain a lot...unfortunately ;)). xo Cat

  15. Jojo, in my humble opinion, the way people act today reflects where they spend most of their time: watching TV sitcoms, *reality TV* and raucous, tacky movies, which are rude and/or crude to be funny and get ratings.

    i too have tried to teach my grands etiquette (at least when they're with me).

  16. This is a big issue you raise. Everywhere is the same situation... I believe.

  17. Thank you for coming to my blog while I was away. I have been looking at your posts and they are interesting. My mother was very strict about teaching me manners, my father too. I brought up my two daughters the same way. When they were invited to friends’ house the parents always asked me what I did to teach them such good manners. I thought everybody did. Manners are not so good anymore but I have to say that it depends on the area, or even on the country. Daughter no. 2 is married to a young man whose family is from India, and they are all super polite.