A Geezer’s Notebook, By Jim Foster
I am sure your social lives have improved considerably having learned but a few helpful etiquette rules from last week’s column stolen from the 1922 manual, Don’t: A Manual of Mistakes and Improprieties More or Less Prevalent in Conduct and Speech. I know my eyesight is much better after reading the rule on mastication. Although wearing oven mitts to bed is a bit of a bother as they say in the British Isles.
The author makes a rather interesting suggestion here. He says, ‘Don’t say don’t for do not, since the name of his book starts with Don’t. I suspect he was into the wine he warned us about in last week’s column.
Nothing is more harmful to a person’s social standing than one’s manner of speaking. One must study books of grammar and the writings of the best authors. I still have several cases of my The Crowning of Miss Mariposa in the basement that can be purchased for far less than The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, which is remarkably similar. (As well as it should be since much of his plays and sonnets were stolen from my scribblings.)
Listen carefully to the conversations of cultured people, and if in doubt, consult the dictionaries. Don’t use profane language, or exclamations of surprise in which the sacred name is employed.
Don’t use extravagant adjectives. For example, don’t say magnificent when a thing is merely pretty and wearing a Bikini especially if your wife is within hearing distance.
Don’t say ‘I bought it off him especially if you stole it off him.
Don’t adopt the common habit of calling everything funny that chances to be a little odd or strange. Funny can only be rightly used when comical is meant. For instance, do not refer to your Uncle Harry as your funny uncle when everyone knows he is a perverted exhibitionist who should have been locked up even before his shameful prank in the Ladies’ washroom of the O’Keefe Centre, which caused the auditorium to be fumigated and the name changed to The Hummingbird Centre and later to the Sony Centre. God alone knows what it is called now. Although when I think about it, it really was funny and where did he find that fluorescent condom?
Now we come to the most important part of my sage advice column, how to ensure a happy home; one where gunfire is rarely exchanged.
Don’t scold your children or your servants when others are present.
Take Note: If one must scold or argue with a child, never leave the groin unprotected.
For the husband or wife, don’t talk about each other in company; avoid deprecatory observations, smiling sneers, or whispered remarks about your partner’s weaknesses or awkwardness in public since we already know about her screaming fits and his penchant for pinching bottoms in the mall.
I am sure that at some time in your life you have been invited to visit someone in their home, although in your case it was probably just once and the request will never be repeated.
Don’t understand too literally the invitation of your host to make yourself at home and consider your friend’s home as your own. No matter what your usual custom is, close the bathroom door when using the facilities. If one must pass gas in the presence of others in other areas of the home, do so quietly and make no great fuss about it. I find a bit of humour helps on these occasions like saying, “Well, Marie, I bet you feel better now.”
There is quite a large section in the manual entitled, Affectionately Addressed to Womankind, which should be discussed here. There are far too many to pass them all along in an advice column such as this – especially for free.
I shall highlight but a few – don’t permit your voice to be high and shrill. Cultivate those low and soft tones which in the judgement of all ages and countries constitute the charms of a woman. Shattering every crystal wine glass within sixty feet may be a great parlour trick, but remember that crap may look nice, but it’s expensive.
Don’t say much when visiting about the cleverness or goodliness of your children. You will be listened to with polite attention, but your friends will probably think their own children very superior and wonder you can think so much of yours whom they consider to be very commonplace little creatures.
And this is important – don’t bother your husband when he comes home tired with a list of your domestic trials and troubles. Always keep a smiling face for that time. After all he has been working all day while you were sitting on your butt.
More about him next week.