Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Lost Arts--Latin, Penmanship, and Tact

I will admit unashamedly that I am a far cry from Emily Post. When it comes to manners, I have my obvious and less noticeable shortcomings aplenty. I have been known to slip and use the word "sucks" in public, uh, repeatedly, and I will be the first to offer up the fact that I have no idea what the inner envelope on formal invitations is for. Why is one envelope insufficient? Isn't the envelope to keep strangers from reading your invites along the journey? Unless Superman is working the mail sorter, it seems a bit much. (Besides, for all my comic-con nerd friends reading this who will contact me later, I am aware that Superman's x-ray vision is not impervious to a second envelope. It was a joke. Go back to your Fortress of Solitude.)
I don't think all modern movements away from formality are unwarranted or ridiculous. A part of me honestly believes that the reason we are so close to curing so many diseases is that people are filling their precious gray matter with useful information instead of the proper location and use of 16 different forks. We live in a computer age, so forcing students to practice fancy penmanship also seems like an useless art--if it's legible, I'm happy. As far as I'm concerned, we've translated everything we really need and Latin can go the way of the Dodo as well. That said, while my etiquette foibles are admitted and (mostly) regretted, there are some current breaches of manners that make even my plebeian stomach turn. These are the rules of manners and tact that need resuscitation as soon as possible, before it's too late for our society and we are all acting like rejected contestants on Rock of Love (heaven help us!).
Burn the blogged invitation
You'll note here that I didn't say "e-vite" because that is not my beef at all. If all the attendees have email and know how to use it, I don't have a problem with extending individual invitations electronically. What I do have a problem with, however, is sending out invitations to the "wanted" guests, and then later posting a copy on the blog for anyone else who might want to attend. I'm seeing this particularly with baby and wedding showers. You can pretend this is an attempt to be inclusive, but really this is the equivalent of saying "I don't care enough to so much as give your name to the person throwing the shower, but if you would be willing to buy me something, I'd love to have it. I mean you, love to have you." Knock it off. Either invite me or don't, but please don't make it perfectly clear on the world-wide web that I'm second tier at best. Trust me, in this economy, I'm not itching for a reason to spend money on someone who forgot me. I'm not even going to touch how much this screws up the person who is carefully planning the food for a certain amount of people in order to make you happy, or the safety issues of putting her address on the internet for anyone to find--I'll stop right here.
Sharing is not always caring
When people I know have babies, I am happy for them. I am unreservedly, heart-happy right along with my friends, and willing to make cooing and gurgling noises I would be mortified to see played back at me at a later date. There was even a rumor that I squealed when a friend told me she was pregnant, though I will deny it under oath because I don't squeal. When people annouce that they are pregnant, I rejoice for them. When they publicly annouce that they are trying to get pregnant, I urp in my mouth.
Yes, sometimes people need someone to talk to, and I am totally there for that. It's simple, really. I do not care who you are, or what our relationship is--if we are not engaged in a heart-to-heart one-on-one discussion about our struggles and triumphs, if we are not being open and honest with the understanding that the information shared will never leave the room, if you do not know my last name--it is completely inappropriate to talk about your attempts to reproduce. It's just plain gross to spring that on someone. I don't want to stumble on it accidentally either. I hate looking at acquaintances blogs or emails and finding the statement "we are trying to get pregnant" or "we hope to be pregnant by _____" or "we will have another baby by {any date more than 9 months away.}" Everyone over the age of (lets be generous and say) 10 years old, knows what that entails and we don't want to think about you that way. It's not okay, and frankly, I worry about people who want us to be thinking about them that way. On a similar note, when you do announce your pregnancy, don't tell me how long you've been trying. If you want to make it clear that you've had fertility issues (although I'm unsure of why you would) it is fine to say this is "long-awaited," but PLEASE, no timeframes. I don't care if it's two weeks or seven years of trying, either way, it's not my beeswax. You do not have to justify yourself to me, and you owe me no explanations. Leave me out of your reproductive business. Let me know when the stork is already on the way and you just may hear a squeal of joy, but let me know beforehand, and I can not get out of there fast enough. For the record, just because you are married does not make it impossible for you to be inappropriate or perverse.
Get your nose out of my uterus
Just as your reproductive decisions are none of my business, my reproductive decisions are none of yours. Once again, this does not apply to discussions with my friends where we are sharing our feelings or bonding, and something in my behavior has indicated that I wouldn't mind discussing it, but that is so rarely the case. I get mighty tired of being publicly asked when we want another baby, or if we are trying for more. Work, church, running into people at Costco, it always seems to be at the forefront of everyone else's mind, which is ironic because it's nowhere near the forefront of mine. I can think of very few things of less concern to you than our family decisions. Whether we are trying for another baby or not is irrelevant--I do not have to explain myself to anyone but my husband. If I want you to nose into my womb I'll bring it up, but I will NEVER bring it up (see above point). To all the people who are just dying to know what our family plans are, I'll make you a promise. The very second my reproductive system becomes your business, I'll call you. Now go along with your life, but I don't recommend waiting by the phone or anything.
Hey, Kreskin, take the weight-guessing act to Vegas!
For those of us who have forgotten, our mother's advice to never comment on another person's weight gain is still very much in effect. There is really no need to ask someone if they have gained weight. I can't believe I have to mention that in this list, but I've been hearing this one come back what with the advent of weight-loss surgery and the Biggest Loser. Here is why asking is a bad idea: If they haven't gained weight, they get to feel self-concious about looking fat for the rest of the day/week/month/year depending on their confidence level. If they have gained weight, for one, it doesn't concern you unless they are taking up your airplane seat as well as their own and you fear for your safety. For two, unless they have acquired some magical clothing that always feels the same no matter what and stretches indefinetly, they are already aware of the weight gain, and asking does no favors at all. So please, listen to your mother, and just steer clear of that hornets' nest entirely.

Ahh, I feel better getting that off my chubby chest! I realize it may be tactless to complain about a lack of tact, but I figure it's the lesser of the two evils here. Also, I'm not known for soft-pedaling, so if you were looking for warm fuzzies, you are on the wrong blog anyway. There are rules of manners that still apply and hopefully, always will, if we still make it clear that we are disturbed when they are violated.
Now that I'm done with that, I have to go, I'm throwing a baby shower and you are all invited--if you tell me when you are planning on having your next baby that is. Oh, and have you put on a few?


Natalie said...

I love your sense of humor and wit!
I could go on and on here, but suffice it to say, you hit every nail right on the head. :)

Alison said...

Next time someone asks when you plan on having another child, just ask them to excuse you and Daniel so you get right on it. It may go against your second rule, but it will shut them up for good I imagine.

Crow Family said...

Sorry if I ever made you upset with all my baby/fertility stuff.

Carly said...

Candis, no you never made me upset or bothered me at all!! Like I mentioned, I have no problem talking with people one on one about anything, I am just very uncomfortable when people I don't know very well decide to bring it up in a very public place and emphasize how often they are "trying." (For some reason, people feel the need to share that with me without provocation). That is when it is tacky--having a discussion with a friend about what's weighing on their mind never ever bothers me. Seriously.