Posts Tagged Etiquette
Kristin Booker would like everyone to stop asking her where her ancestors came from. It gets old when you get the same question every day:
“Where are you from?”
“Charleston, West Virginia.”
“No, I mean where are you FROM? What’s your racial background?”
“No, I mean which one of your parents is white/Asian/other? Because you can’t be ALL black.”
This is where the compulsive pedant in me rears its head and says something about how probably a sizable majority of African-Americans have some proportion of European ancestry, so “you can’t be ALL black” is a brainless thing to say. There’s a difference between genetics and cultural identification, and when Booker answers with, “I’m black,” she’s making a cultural identification based on the fact that all of her parents and grandparents make the same identification. I could go on talking about the one-drop rule and what I like to call the “walking down the street test,” which is an important factor in race relations. (For example: when people see me walking down the street, they see a white person without ambiguity. This is simple enough for someone who looks like me, but a person of multiracial heritage could get a more varied reaction, which is where the annoying conversation comes in.)
Brian Moylan at Gawker just posted this godawful breakup email, though I disagree that it’s the “most annoying online dating email ever.” I’ve put up with worse than this:
Thanks for an interesting 3 dates. I spent the weekend thinking about you and me and have decided that I’m not interested in pursuing “us” any longer.
I had a great time on our second date. You did a great job in planning that night. Thank you again! I really enjoyed meeting your friends on Friday night and they were great to talk to.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of when people just disappear, fall off the map or suddenly stop calling without a reason, so I figured I’d say a few things.
I don’t think we’re a good match and after looking at us on Cupid again, neither does Cupid. We’re a 35% match on ethics questions and 52% on lifestyle questions. And I think the lifestyle issue is the bigger one. I think Cupid’s matching system works best if the user answers more questions. I noticed you only answered 92 questions—so I’d recommend answering more. Cupid was founded by Harvard math majors, so I have confidence in their match algorithm.
I feel like I’m adaptable to almost any situation and get along with all kinds of people. You have told me multiple times that there are people you flat out don’t think you have anything in common with nor want to talk to—like the people at my friend’s party. I can’t date someone who doesn’t feel comfortable navigating through and thriving in the diverse social environments that I always find myself in. I feel like especially in a city like New York EVERYONE has something in common just by virtue of living in the biggest city in the US. Also most people aren’t from here, so that’s always something to talk about. My profile says it all when I talk about the various music and situations that I love. I also love crowds.
I also seem to have a lot more energy than you. I think I work longer hours, party much more, go out more, sleep less and probably exercise more than you. Plus I’m older. I love spending time relaxing on the couch, but I also love to dance every week. It would be ideal to find a partner to share these things with.
Lastly, on our first date you told me that I talk a lot but that you didn’t feel like I talked enough about the “real me.” You asked me if I ever open up to girls on dates. On our third date I told you all about my parents and I feel like instead of just listening to me and/or trying to see things from a different perspective, you basically just told me what “I should be doing” and essentially what I was doing was “wrong.” As in I should be calling my mom every day and not speaking poorly of my father. How are you going to ask someone to open up and then chastise them for doing so? I didn’t think that was very cool at all.
I highly recommend that you move to San Francisco once you are done with New York. It’s got a large tech culture which is great for design. The cafe culture in SF is much more European style than New York—thus there are more cafes and more people working from cafes. I think SF may be better suited for your pace of life.
Montauk is the place that I recommended that you take your father. I know you mentioned that he likes to take the train, but I highly recommend not taking the train there if not spending a lot of money is important to you. Montauk is pretty rural and small town (but spread out) thus there is not much public transportation. Taxis there are very expensive and not very convenient if you want to go to more than 1 beach or location. It’s not very walkable from the train station. Thus I recommend driving. The drive out there is beautiful. I took a date there last year and she loved it. I would definitely bring a change of clothes. It’s super casual during the day (surf/beach attire) and it gets fancy at night at the restaurants and bars.
I wish you the best in your dating and other pursuits and it’s a small world, so I imagine I’ll run into you again somewhere on this planet.
So then Moylan asks:
But where does the blame lie? Sure, OompaLoompa’s “I think I work longer hours, party much more, go out more, sleep less and probably exercise more than you. Plus I’m older,” shtick is totally obnoxious. But if what he says is true about that she criticized the way he treats his parents on date three, then maybe it makes sense why he’s dumping her.
And boy is he dumping her! But at least he’s nice and courteous enough to help her plan a visit with her father, no? So, who do you think is wrong in this situation? Is it OompaLoompa for being a type-A jackass or MissLonelyhearts for being lazy, judgmental, and mean?
I disagree. I don’t think MissLonelyhearts is lazy, judgmental or mean; she may very well all those things and worse, but that is not evident from OompaLoompa’s email. What’s is apparent from his criticisms of her is that she’s an introvert, while he’s an extrovert who doesn’t know what it means to be an introvert.
There is a shitstorm going on, and it might be sort of winding down, but there’s no time like the present. The sheer willful ignorance and hostility is so pervasive, and so repetitive that I almost don’t have the energy to wade in. Since pretty much every possible angle of the matter has already been discussed and explained, at length, hundreds of times, and some people still don’t see what the problem is, I can’t very well expect them to listen to me. If they didn’t hear it the first 3000 times, I’d be frankly the most arrogant piece of work on the Internet to think they’ll finally get it the 3001st time if it happens to be coming from my keyboard.
In truth, though, I do have something to add to the discussion, which I’m not sure has already been addressed in the extant arguments. It has to do with a general point of good manners which has been sorely neglected on more than one level.
Since the purpose of good manners is essentially to make everyone feel comfortable to the greatest extent possible, personal boundaries should be respected in terms of unnecessary, consciously decided behavior towards other individuals. This sounds awfully generalized and unhelpful, does it? I’ll be more specific.
If you’re unsure of how to act towards a person, and that person establishes a boundary, the polite thing to do—in fact, the only decent thing to do—is to respect that boundary, and not make decisions on that individual that would violate the stated boundary. See what I’m getting at? You want to know how a given person likes to be treated, and that person gives you an example of a boundary which she holds, by telling you about a recent experience in which that boundary was violated, and concludes with the advice of, “and it made me really uncomfortable, so please don’t do that”?
About yesterday’s post?
Oh, it’s real, all right. This is not a hoax.
When Withers received the email (Bourne sent it three times to be sure) she did what anyone would do: she forwarded it to a few friends to share in the shock. What was the alternative —respond with a ‘frowny’ face? But instead of simply offering advice, some anonymous friend got pro-active and forwarded Bourne’s e-attack, launching a viral sensation in a matter of hours. Now everyone in the Western Hemisphere has laid eyes on Bourne’s email.
In a way, it’s the ultimate revenge on a mother-in-law who needed to be put in her place after such power-mongering. But it’s not going to make for smooth wedding. Bourne has been labeled the mother-in-law from hell by media outlets and Withers’ father Alan has fueled the fire by publicly calling Bourne “Miss fancy pants.” Now parents on both sides of the couple are feuding and nobody’s manners are in check. Suggestion for Heidi and Freddie, her groom: elope.
I think calling her “Miss fancy pants” is way too gentle, personally.
As much as I lecture here on etiquette, I think it’s important to remember that behind every rule of good manners there should be some connection to the real world, and when the times change enough that those connections no longer apply, then the etiquette point in question needs to be reconsidered. The purpose of good manners is ultimately to make other people comfortable. If you’re using “manners” to make someone feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, then you’re doing it wrong.
There’s a post on Jezebel today about an email (which may or may not be real) that a British woman received from her fiance’s step-mother, and, assuming it’s real, it is a fascinating display of how proper etiquette is so easily abused. There are a lot of comments on the article saying, “Well, her tone is out of line, but it’s good advice she’s giving and the daughter-in-law-to-be is obviously very rude and needs to learn some things.” This is assuming that the recipient really is as obnoxious and ill-intentioned as the letter makes her out to be, and I would argue that the letter writer exhibits an attitude that begs a critical view.
Now, maybe this is just a culture that I don’t sufficiently understand. After all, I’m a metropolitan mid-Atlantic American; we’re not sufficiently concerned with manners for the South, and not sufficiently concerned with gentility for the North, and we’ve long since lost our British ancestors’ sense of propriety. Meanwhile I’ve been spoiled by the Albanian sense of hospitality, and I will tell you what, there are parts of that culture that make me tear my hair out, but they make a genuine effort to make their guests feel welcome and comfortable. I guess that’s a gene that’s been repeatedly reinforced in the Albanian population but conspicuously absent from some parts of the British upper crust.
So, let’s go over this sucker point by point. Weapons-grade sarcasm ahead!
It is high time someone explained to you about good manners. Yours are obvious by their absence and I feel sorry for you.
What is it about the grocery store that causes otherwise responsible citizens to act like morons?
Attention, four 60ish white people chewing the fat in the aisle after the cash registers at the supermarket: what makes you think this is a good place to have your conversation? You’re taking up the whole freaking aisle, blocking foot traffic, and for no good reason. There’s a whole pedestrian-enabled square just outside the store, so what in the shit are you still doing inside? Are you the same people who think it’s cute to stand in matched pairs on the escalators at Fort Totten Metro like there’s no one behind you?
Shit, it’s like there’s a gene in some people that makes them seek out high-volume pedestrian junctions to block up when they want to stand still and do nothing. Can’t stand around in wide-open area with plenty of room to get around, can’t move off to the side where no one’s trying to walk, nope! Got to park the whole crowd where everyone else is trying to get by!
Via Jezebel, who honestly thinks this is a good idea?
“I’m looking for a creative and well-written person to help me with online dating,” says one ad on a freelance jobs search engine. “I’ve set up a Match.com profile, but don’t have the time to tend to it. I’m hoping to pay someone to write emails to girls on my behalf.” In this case, the romantic merely wants his hired gun to procure the “dates” – it’s unclear whether or not he’s supposed to, y’know, pretend to be the guy and make him sound smart/romantic/invested in the process.
The formula is as follows:
C < D
Where C equals the investment in time required for corresponding with potential dating partners, and D equals the amount of time involved in actually dating.
In other words…
Gangs of school kids riding Metro together is the sort of thing that makes me hate kids.
While I’m here, though: use headphones to play your music. The rest of us do not want to hear what songs you’ve stored on your phone. Yes, that means you, uniformed teenager determined to impress your buddies. Turn that shit off.
Oh YES I CAN be frivolous. Yahoo! gives us the scoop on what our hairdressers are usually too tactful to say to us, including:
5. Some women think that if they keep their hair all one length the way it was in high school, everyone will think they’re still in high school. Guess what? You’re not. As you get older, you need to soften the lines around your face. Layers are the magic remedy.
Fuck. That. Noise. I don’t expect to look like a high school kid, I just happen to like hard lines around my face, and I don’t want to have to go back to the hairdresser on a regular schedule to maintain a haircut that she says I need. It was different when I lived in Albania, where a) long hair was more trouble than it was worth, what with the limited running water and lack of air conditioning, and b) a haircut cost me the equivalent of about $3. Since I live in the First World again, I can leave my hair to grow naturally.
There’s also this:
9. If you want to buy a bottle of color and do your own hair to save a buck, you can live with the consequences.
Yeah, fine by me. I mix my own henna once a month and I’m pleased with the results.
Listen, folks, I’m a straightforward and polite customer and I tip well on the rare occasions in which I do put my butt in a stylist’s chair. I am not, however, responsible for how she makes her living. I’ve trimmed my own hair in the bathroom mirror and it looked fine. No one is entitled to my money for services that I don’t need.
Next week: authors explain to the public that it is a matter of common decency and good manners to purchase at least 5 new books a month.
I just watched Freedom Writers last night, and part of the fun of watching it is in wondering, “Did that really happen?” at various moments.
But let’s just assume that everything in the movie actually happened in reality.
I can confidently, honestly say that when I was a waitress, it never occurred to me to tell a customer, “You won’t like that.” Duuuuude. It’s one thing to argue with the dogma of “the customer is always right,” but man, you don’t protect your customers from themselves!
And when I was a teacher, it never, ever occurred to me to ask any student to give us “the Black perspective” on anything. Granted I taught school in Albania and had little to no racial diversity in my classes, and was dealing with a very, very different set of difficulties than Erin Gruwell’s colleagues had with their students, but…yeah, actually, I DO believe there are teachers who act like that. Assholes to the right of me, assholes to the left!