Why The Approach Was Wrong

Cherished readers, in Monday’s post I commented that I had concerns about the way Mr. Old High School Crush had approached the seeker of advice. I have received two emails asking me to please follow up. Here are my thoughts, for your eager consumption.

The Lady takes exception to:

  1.  Him staring at someone across the room repeatedly and so conspicuously that they notice.
  2. Him approaching the table and asking the lady if she recognized him. Why not say, “Hello, I am Mr. SoAndSo, I believe we went to high school together and wanted to say hello.” Doesn’t that sound better than “Don’t you recognize me?” and putting the innocent party on the spot?
  3. Him standing over a seated person. If an empty chair was at the table, he would have done well to ask permission to be seated. By remaining standing, he called attention to himself and the table.
  4. Him revealing a lady’s age in public by announcing to all gathered what year she graduated from high school. (Oh, the horror!)

Am I being nitpicky in this situation? I don’t believe so. Certainly, having a bit more polish would have been more of a credit to this man. And if he remembered the basic tenets of Putting Others At Ease and Never Calling Attention To Oneself he would have come out smelling like a rose! However, I suppose in his enthusiasm for seeing his old school chum, he forgot and according to the letter, no harm was done. In this case, I will give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, ignoring innocent social flubs should be part of our own code of etiquette.

Best Mannerly Wishes, ‘

The Lady Hooper Brackett

Complimenting a Drastic Change In Appearance

Cherished readers, I recently had a meeting with someone that I’ve been doing business with for years. I have seen this person once per year for the last decade. Imagine my surprise when I noticed a huge change in this person’s appearance! Not only did he lose a considerable amount of weight, but he also got rid of his glasses and stopped wearing his toupee. The result? He looks years younger!

I wanted to praise the improvements, but my conundrum was twofold. How do I comment on these changes without seeming shocked? How do I comment without seeming as though his former appearance was unattractive? I had to choose my words wisely.

I decided to be cautious and not specifically mention any one of the changes he had made. I smiled and said sweetly, “My dear fellow, how nice to see you looking so wonderful!” This afforded him the opportunity to talk about his changes himself, without putting him on the spot (and talk he did! He was rightly proud of his weight loss!) Win-win….he didn’t feel put on the spot and I was able to bring a spot of joy to his day!

Best Tuesday Wishes!

The Lady Hooper-Brackett




Graciously Responding to Someone Who Has Treated You Poorly In The Past

Cherished readers, The Lady Hooper-Brackett received an anonymous email asking for advice on a subject that I am sure we all deal with in our lives.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

Recently I was in a restaurant and I noticed a man kept looking over at me. I didn’t recognize him and kept on with my conversation. Suddenly, I noticed he was approaching the table. He stood near my seat and said ,”I wanted to come over and say hello. Do you recognize me?” I didn’t. He then said , “Weren’t you in the class of 1996 at Stamford High School? Didn’t you go on the senior trip to the Jersey Shore?” It was then my heart dropped. This was the guy that I had a huge crush on in school, the man that I childishly pursued. His way of handling it 20 some odd years ago was to humiliate me and make fun of me publicly. 

I was polite and made small talk for a few minutes. He seemed really happy to see me and as though he forgot all of the strangeness from school. Also, I  felt bad for him because time wasn’t kind to him and he has lost his looks. But I wonder if I should have been less than polite to him? 

Thank you

Dearest Emailer, The Lady Hooper-Brackett is more concerned about the way this man approached you in public than with how you handled yourself, but perhaps I will touch upon that in another post. To answer your question about your own reaction, this is what I have to say as far as dealing with this situation:

It will never be incorrect to be polite to someone in the circumstances that you detail. No doubt, in the two decades since you have left high school, you have grown as an individual and would never remake the mistakes of youth. You were right to give him the benefit of the doubt and be polite, after all he has no doubt moved on from the follies of his youth. He may not remember the situation from school the same way that you do. The Lady feels that since he made an effort to come to speak to you, then he was happy he had seen you. I feel you handled things nicely in a surprise situation.

The Lady does believe, however, that there is nothing wrong with taking secret delight in the fact that someone who was once rude to you “lost his looks” as you say. In fact, The Lady believes you should be most pleased that you looked enough the same that someone who knew you so long ago would still recognize you.

Best Polite Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Send your own questions to The Lady!


The Lady’s Thoughts On Her Travel Experience

Cherished readers, forgive my absence yesterday. It was a travel day for me as I made my way from The South to The North. (As a non-etiquette related aside, I will say it is hotter and more humid in New England today than it was in Southern Mississippi! A rare occurrence!)

Now, I try to be an easy-going traveler as we are jammed into the Aluminum Tube and we must make do in a small space with hardly any leg room. In those circumstances, we are all suffering and I realize we cannot all be at our best. However as I observed and shared space with my fellow travelers yesterday, it was clear that my flight was to be a lesson in poor manners, indeed.


After being seated in my window seat, a trio of males (two college age and one who was their father) sat in the row behind me. They were speaking loudly and sounded as if they were all well into their cups at 930 AM. (So be it) One decided that he wanted to play cards and proceeded to shuffle the cards and bang on the tray table behind me….repeatedly and loudly. My seat was jarred over and over. He also cursed and swore as he talked about their recent trip to Miami. His seatmate now decided to pull out his tablet and play a video without earbuds so that any and all around him had to listen to the movie he was watching.

In our small section, we (which included three young girls traveling with their parents) were subjected to listening to a tirade which included profanity and vulgar names to call women. It was, to say the least, mortifying. And maddening!

My seatmates, an older couple, arrived. Within 20 seconds of being seated, the lady turned around and sternly told the young man to please turn off his movie or use earbuds because listening to the video was annoying and degrading to women. He turned it immediately off. I thanked the woman for her gumption. (Turns out she is a former Catholic School principal!)

Remember how I always say that really the only thing you have to keep in mind about manners and etiquette is CALL NO ATTENTION TO ONESELF? These young men had not learned this lesson yet. Everything they did called the most negative attention to themselves!

I became disheartened to think that the ways of our modern world seem to be all about selfishness and people doing exactly what they want without regard to others comfort or feelings. I sincerely hope that this will change in the future.

Best Travel Wishes,

The Lady Hooper Brackett

The Lady’s Guide To Basic Letter Writing

Cherished readers, mail time at The Hooper-Brackett estate is one of the Lady’s favorite times of the day. It is when I can hope that there will be a bona-fide, handwritten letter from a cultured and thoughtful friend. Ahhh the joy of seeing pen to paper, rather than the electronic typing of an email. The Lady understands that email and digital communications are necessary, but there are times that a handwritten letter is a must! I will discuss greeting cards in another post.

I will not be covering different types of letters in today’s entry, merely going over the supplies and accoutrements that you should have when sitting down to pen a letter.

  1. Use real, honest-to-goodness paper. Not a torn out notebook sheet or recycled envelopes (horrors!)
  2. Make sure the paper is of the best quality that you can afford and be sure it is of a conservative color. Gray, Ecru, White, or a Light Blue are all acceptable. Remember, letter-writing is for all occasions. You may be writing a condolence letter and certainly do not want to only have on hand a red or other festive paper. Also, if you are penning business correspondence, conservative is the way to go.
  3. If you choose to personalize your paper, please omit any cutesy designs and choose a conservative font.
  4. The pen and ink you use matters! The Lady is fond of rollerball  and fountain pens. Continuing in the conservative vein…ink should be black or blue, though The Lady is a fan of black ink for all things. Red pen is for correcting tests.
  5. Beautiful stamps are the finishing touch to the correspondence. If the post office does a series on flowers, these are wonderful for all letters. As much as The Lady appreciates cartoons and commemorative TV show stamps (a la Star Trek etc..) these are not truly appropriate.
  6. Preprinted labels are fine for mailing a bill payment, but handwriting your return address is best on all social correspondence. Incidentally, clear seals are acceptable to seal an ungummed envelope, but avoid childlike stickers.
  7. Please, for the love of all that is neat and sweet, DO NOT load glitter, sequins, confetti or anything that will drop out of the envelope and make a mess when the person opens the envelope.
  8. Try to cultivate a neat handwriting. The Lady is from the Dark Ages when the Palmer Method was taught in school and under the stern, perfectionistic gaze of the nuns at her Catholic school, she developed her penmanship. The Lady believes that ALL schools should teach this lost art once more. It adds polish.
  9. A good writing desk is a must with all the aforementioned tools within arm’s reach.

And there you have it. Let there be more thoughtful letter writing and less emailing going forward!!!

Best Letter Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett