Sunday Ask The Lady: Dealing With Dastardly Doorbell Dingers

Cherished readers, I give you today’s Ask The Lady:

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

There are more people than ever wandering up and down my street ringing  doorbells and trying to sell something, be it religion or new windows for the house. I struggle with not being rude as they go on and on repeating their rehearsed scripts, while I can not seem to get a word in at all. The fact is, I do not want to be bothered. They seem to have a knack of showing up at dinner time and disturbing my meal. I am fed up. Can I politely tell them to shove off?

Get Off My Porch

Dear Get Off My Porch, The Lady also dreads when the uninvited ring her bell in order to sell something and believes that you can solve your problem thusly:

When the Doorbell ringers come to the door, open it with a flourish, look them in the eye, smile, and say “I’m not interested” and close the door immediately. Give them no opportunity to waste your time. This, by the way, is not discourteous as it also frees up their time to visit more houses in the time allowed.

Best Visitor Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Vintage Saturday: Advice on Insults from 1967

Cherished readers, The Lady presents to you an excerpt from The Encyclopedia of Etiquette by Llewellyn Miller copyright 1967. This volume is very easy to read as it is written in alphabetical order. Let’s look at what Miss Miller advised when dealing with insults, be they intended or not. (Page 335 in this volume)

A famous definition of gentleman and lady is ‘One who never insults anyone unintentionally.’ To this can be added  ‘A lady or gentleman is one who never takes word, deed, or manner as an insult when none was intended.’ There is no complete remedy for either the calculated insult or one given under the hot impulse of anger. No matter how regretful or abject the apology, the memory of the insulting words remains. However, when an apology is offered it must be accepted. The acceptance can be stiff if the insult was deliberate. But if the insult was unintentional the only sensible thing to do, in sympathy for the embarrassment of the left-footed give, is to laugh and forget it.”

The Lady agrees with Miss Miller. It is certainly better to ignore such things as best as possible. The Lady would even say if it is noted that this same person repeatedly acts in a boorish manner, she would more than likely only see this individual when absolutely necessary. Why subject yourself to more of the same?

Best “Insulting” Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

Manners Monday: Saying No

Cherished readers, do you find it easy to say no when you are asked to do something you do not wish to do? For instance, how would you respond to these questions:

  1. We’d like to invite you to dinner next week. My mother-in-law is having issues with her gout and would like to discuss her toes with your husband. We know he is a wonderful doctor. Can you make it next Tuesday at 7?
  2. Jack and I will be in town at the end of the month and we were wondering if we could stay with you for four days?
  3. Can you volunteer for _______this weekend?
  4. Can I borrow a thousand dollars?

None of these scenarios is particularly attractive and unless you are a saint, not anything you would like to do. (The Lady acknowledges that sometimes your answer will depend on who is doing the asking.)

One of the skills that The Lady thinks is essential for all to know is the art of saying ‘No’ politely, yet firmly. The best way is to say “No, thank you” or even “I’m so sorry, I/we can’t.” The key is to make this statement and then be silent. Say nothing more. The Lady has found that this usually works, but occasionally some pushy person will keep on and ask “Why not?” The answer to this question is “I’m afraid it’s not possible.” And then be silent once more. One does not need to make up an implausible story to justify or explain why you are saying no.

It takes practice. For The Lady it took years of practice and anxious and resentful feelings after saying ‘Yes’ when I meant ‘No’. There is great freedom in this skill!

Best No-No Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

Manners Monday: Personal Questions

Cherished readers, The Lady had an interesting discussion with a friend on the subject of personal questions. She was amazed that her daughter-in-law actually answered when someone asked her age. I could sympathize with her surprise, but I also acknowledge that the younger generations are generally much more open about things than we ancients are. (The Lady is not really ancient…but she likes to pretend to be of a different era.)

Even with these more open, free social customs, The Lady believes that the following examples fall into the category of personal questions:

-How much money do you make/have/plan to inherit?

-How much did this cost? How can you afford this?

-When are you going to have children/stop having more children/discipline the children you have?

-What exactly is wrong with your health?

-Why are you getting divorced?

-How much do you weigh? (Ha…you knew that one was going to make the list!)

-Did you have some work done? (Referring to plastic surgery, not work on the house or car)

-Is it real? (Whatever it is…a gemstone, bosom, derriere, hair, etc…)

In all things, cherished readers, discretion is your friend. No probing questions.

Best Manners Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

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