Friday, April 4, 2008

Ask a Vanderbilt

At the thrift store yesterday, I picked up a copy of Amy Vanderbilt's Everyday Etiquette, published in 1956. The book cost a dime; the advice found therein is priceless. Here are some helpful hints to get you through the weekend.

I've been wondering about this myself
I'm writing to you for information regarding the serving of frozen foods which are packaged in foil tins. I am referring particularly to individual meat pies which are purchased and baked in foil containers. Should they be removed from the containers or served in them? Is it proper to place the baked pie, still in its foil, on the dinner plate to be eaten from the container? Would it be better to place the pie in the foil on a bread and butter plate beside the dinner plate with a serving spoon for one to serve himself? Mrs. F.E.A.
No, you do not remove the baked pies from the foil containers when you serve individual pies. Because the pies are served hot, it is easier to place them individually on dinner plates and then place the dinner plates in front of the diners. The vegetables are then passed separately.

I hope Hillary is reading this blog
Do you feel that a woman public speaker must always wear a hat? M.M.
Not necessarily. She doesn't wear one if she is in evening clothes. In many quite urban communities, where hatlessness is a matter of choice, I've seen many distinguished women speakers without hats. In very small communities, which tend to be conservative in this matter, it is probably well for the speaker to wear a hat in order to avoid criticism. It should not be the kind that will shade her face or distract the audience, however. Any arrangement of veil, flowers, or perhaps a velvet ribbon bow would be quite acceptable.

Get married, become an idiot
Like all housewives, I have occasion to write some business letters. Can you give me a simple form that I can follow and that will be more or less foolproof? Mrs. G.N.
Yes, here is the form: (what follows is a standard letter with return address in upper right, then addressee to the left - here's the body of the letter)
Will you please send me two lounging chairs as advertised in last Sunday's Times @ $25.75 each. I enclose my check.
Mrs. Frank L. Lewis

Why girls didn't go wild in the 1950s
In passing a woman in a narrow corridor of a train, what should I do so that she may pass without coming into close contact with me? D.J.
You step into an empty compartment if there is one, or, if there isn't, you flatten yourself, face inward, against either wall.

How and when is it ever "proper" to invite a doctor to our home? Mrs. M.M.
This is a delicate matter. I assume you mean your own doctor. If, on your visits to him, you find that he engages you in some social conversation each time and seems anxious to prolong the visit for this reason, it is a quite proper thing to feel him out, as it were, to see if he would be interested in a social invitation...Certainly, if he is married, you do not exclude his wife in invitations, and the invitation, when it actually is sent or given over the phone, should be directed to her.

How not to be a ho
Before my boyfriend went to Alaska, we decided to wait until he got back to marry, but, as he has been gone two years, it seems a long time. Would it be good taste if I should go to him? He is sending me money for the trip. L.VB.
It is quite proper for you to go to him. However, just in case the marriage should not take place after you arrive, you should, for his protection and your own, pay your own passage, borrowing the money for the purpose if necessary. After the marriage, he can then reimburse you and you can then repay the loan if it was necessary to make one.


Sandy said...

I want to thank you yet again for your unique insights on things most of us common mortals simply take for granted. I just enjoyed a good laugh...and I needed one. You rock.

tunsie said...

i work with some extremely,painfully,honest girls who r very mature 4 their ages,someone once told them at a cafe'I am currently dating'their reply was'Is that what u call it? I thought that was called HO-ING'.I cannot bring them around because of their time we were eating at a diner in central New Jersey,and this girl saw me and started 2 walk around me.and the girls said that B---H wasn't walking like that until she saw my uncle.another time a girl was staring at me from another table,and the girls asked her what she is thinking'you have a beard and my uncle has a beard what do u think the kids r going 2 look like'she left the place crying.can I borrow that book and I will share it with my girls,please.tunsie tunsie tunsie