I used to collect etiquette books from the distant past. Maybe I still would compulsively buy them if it hadn't become so EASY to buy them. Ebay has ruined collecting, I think, because now whatever you want to collect you just search and then can purchase without ever leaving your couch.
The fun of it was in the hunt and discovery, the old musty bookstores and the strange little books hidden in back corners. Rules for things that don't have rules, like marriage.
My favourite was the marriage one. It was from 1940. Some of the tips, wow. Well. I'd like to have been a man in 1940, I suppose. The recipient of all that excessive kindness. Fake kindness, sure. But kindness all the same. And I'm not that fussy when it comes to kindness. I just likes me some kindness, folks.
I feel like a jerk for suggesting I know anything about etiquette in 2011, which I don't, because the books pretty much stopped after a while. I don't think they write etiquette books anymore, SO last century. Maybe they should. But who would buy them? We all think we know what we are doing. (Tip: Always start with the outside fork and work your way in.)
I've always thought that maybe the overriding rule of all manners is simply to be nice. Err on the side of too much instead of not enough. Make sure people know that yes, you appreciate being invited to their house for dinner. Send them an email the next day. Don't forget to be grateful. Some things are gifts that don't look like gifts. Etc. Don't I sound wise?
I'm not. Not really.
Often I know the "right" thing to do and I don't do it because I'm too busy and finally, after a year has passed, the thank you notes seem too late.
This is long winded. I am circling around what I want to say because I don't want you to think that I'm rude or that I don't appreciate you because there is almost no one in the world (outside of my family) who I appreciate more than I appreciate each and every person who cares enough about me to read this blog, and the ones who take the time to write? THOSE people I doubly appreciate again.
If you write to me, I WILL write back unless I am reading your note on my iPhone and accidentally delete it and can't figure out how to get it back, which happened to me recently and to that person (who I didn't respond to), I am SO sorry. The reason why I was reading your note on my iPhone was because it was so sweet that I was showing it to my mum, and I was showing it to her because I so appreciated what you said in it.
So, mea culpa.
BUT! Here's the thing: If I answer your email -- which I swear that I almost always will -- please please PLEASE do not make me then the recipient of a daily, vaguely threatening chain mail or a never-ending stream of LOL YOU HAVE TO READ THIS notes or invitations to chats or just basically everything that you forward to everyone in your address book.
Please? Make it stop.
(And please don't hate me. You are already scaring me enough with that creepy misspelled chain mail stuff, for reals.)