The Goddess gave the most lavish, thoughtful gift this year. She bestowed upon us the gift of tea. At The Ritz. I know, right? The Goddess, River Rafter, Sweetest G and myself gather in the divinely appointed lobby of the famous hotel for tiny sandwiches, scones and conversation. Perhaps a bit loud for the tea set but we can’t help ourselves. There is so much to say and so much of it is laugh out loud funny.
As if fabulous food and exquisite tea blends is not enough, we wear heels and pearls. Ummm, does life get better? I think not. Just when we believe the fun has peaked, we talk manners with Jeffrey, the Ritz tea sommelier. By the way–Ritz in charge guys–best hire ever. Don’t let this one slip away. Having attended Ritz training for ladies and gentleman for The Norwegian’s business, one knows of its stringent instruction filled with the fineries of treating others well and taking pride in one’s work. But, Jeffrey, the dahling, takes it one step further. And he creates tea-infused vodkas. Bonus.
Can we discuss the face? The man is chiseled, from jaw to perfectly arched brow. He pairs a white dinner jacket with a pastel plaid bow tie. Can the afternoon get more yummy? If we use Jeffrey’s time as a measure, we are surely the belles of the ball.
We all agree tea makes troubles go down easier including those who do not RSVP. Jeffrey overhears and squees, “Are you telling me someone did not RSVP? They simply should not be invited back.” My heart beats faster. Have I met a twin somehow separated from me at birth? We are discussing an upcoming wedding. Color us aghast as we share stories of all manner of manners faux pas. As a young bride I was told, “Please stop sending thank you notes. We don’t do that and it’s making us uncomfortable.” I informed commenter, “I would never want to make you uncomfortable but I would not forgive myself or have an answer for my mother if I didn’t send one.” Today, the answer may be a bit different, perhaps followed by “Asshat.”
We chuckle as we consider manners in general, our own faux pas and those of others. We all commit them and hope that our deepest regrets are enough. As one who spent a good number of years lecturing and writing about manners, it occurs that perhaps the more plugged in we become, the less tuned in to others we become as well. There are questions that come up every time I speak to groups. Let’s call them tips to carry around in our pockets, shall we?
Tip One: Get your damn cell phone off the table. I am asked frequently when it is appropriate to answer the phone or return a text at lunch or dinner. Is never not clear? Is the person seated across from you of so little consequence that you need to rapid fire your fingers across a box instead of look them in the eye? What if they want to propose? In a proper place setting, there is no spot for a cell phone. Put it in your bag darling. The world can do without you for an hour or two.
Tip Two: Don’t manners just make everyone uncomfortable? Hold on for one moment, dear, while I get my smelling salts. The purpose of manners is to make everyone more comfortable. Would you not adore entering a room in all your fabulousness unfazed by both fish forks and finger bowls? Besides, a lady with impeccable manners would never point out the foible of another. She may snicker to herself later but she would never make you feel bad.
Tip Three: Can I bring a guest to a wedding? Did your invitation say, “and guest?” If not, you’re out of luck. That includes small guests you and your spouse created in your spare time. Case closed. Don’t argue. Paste a smile about your face and enjoy your time at the single table. You never know–the love of your life may be seated next to you. Brides are minxy like that. If you stop texting, you may notice his blue eyes. And the cut of his suit. If he’s not wearing a suit, move to the kids table.
Tip Four: Do I have to send a thank you note? Do you want to be invited back? Do you want to have a nice life? Do you want to practice your handwriting? Do you want Aunt Mae to love you best of all and leave you all her money? Do you want to have tea at the Ritz with The Goddess? There is a reason for beautiful monogrammed stationery and lovely pens. Why have them if you can’t show them off?
Tip Five: Can I move my place card? If you move a place card, you should be killed. Your hostess sat down last night and put everyone’s name on a scrap of paper and positioned them around the table a million times to ensure conversation flow, boy-girl ratio and keeping those that despise each other apart. Mess with her work at your own risk. Know this–she will notice and she will add you to her “do not invite” list.
Tip Six: What if I don’t like to dress up? I want to be myself. Dressing up and being yourself are two different things my dear. I guarantee you if you are this whiny about dressing up, it may be your self that is the problem. If slovenly is integral to you being yourself, then don’t go. Stay home and be thrilled no one is forcing you to bathe and comb your hair. Fashion is individual but there are some tried and trues. Jeans do not belong everywhere and jeans that hover under your badonkadonk belong nowhere. The most casual of wear can be brought up a notch with the addition of pearls and heels. It’s part of their magical powers. Ball caps on grown men belong in the major leagues whether in the seats or on the field. Or on farmers. Turn it around backwards and my head shakes of its own accord. There is no outfit that cannot be saved by your charm, grace and kindness.
When in doubt, brew some tea, write a handwritten note to your best pal and take a bath. Even Jeffrey would approve.