Warning: This poem contains canon-typical violence, hostile language, boundary violations, and other minor mayhem. No supervillains or would-be heroes were seriously injured in the making of this poem.
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Goodness, that was rather a dull week, not helped by the weather being very iffy particularly towards the end of it, and rather militating against anything in the way of extended walks.
There was a slight moment of drama one night over aged P's alarm, but it subsequently turned out that the intermittent bleating sounds were actually the battery of partner's old mobile in its death-throes.
I did not get the academic things I thought I might get completed done. I would put this down to the anomic lethargy that often overtakes me in ye olde familye mansion, but on the other hand I was bashing out my daily episodes of the_comfortable_courtesan. I have noticed that whereas I tend to need particular conditions for doing SRS BZNZ scholarliness, over the last 2 months I have found myself continuing the ongoing intrigues under distinctly sub-optimum conditions (never did I think I would find myself tapping out passages of continuous prose with html markup on the tablet - curses, autocomplete! - in airports, etc).
(On which latter topic, am extremely gratified at the intelligence that there are those that would be interested in the collated and consolidated memoirs of Madame C-. This could be a possibility...)
Nil culinary to report except a loaf of Khorasan flour made.
I’m running across something that is making me squirm a little bit. It seems that we have messed up badly in teaching the younger generation (and goodness knows my generation has its own issues) about an aspect of manners that is going to make it really hard on them.
There is this huge frustration I am seeing in the 18-24 crowd because they seem to have been taught that the act of saying no is aggressive and shows bad manners.
I am not a paragon of good manners. I was taught them and I do not always practice them. Not the fault of my teachers *grin* but a personal failing that I recognize.
Good manners is a great tool for setting boundaries. It’s bad manners to answer the phone during a meal because you’re supposed to put your attention on the people present. It’s bad manners to use mealtime to hold someone captive for a harangue because it is supposed to be time to interact pleasantly. Yes, parents using mealtime to yell at you for bad grades was bad manners. They’re supposed to call you on the carpet for that at another time. Indeed, the expression comes from the idea that you’d be standing on the carpet in your father’s study to be scolded. NOT in the dining room. (Dad didn’t have a study. I got scolded in my bedroom)
Let’s take the invitation. Good manners requires that you ANSWER the invite. It does not require you to say yes. If you want to/are able to go, you say, “Yes, thank you!” The no does require a few more words. You have to thank ’em for asking. Then you say you’re sorry you can’t come. You may volunteer a reason if you really want to, but you’re not required to, and the host is not supposed to ask for a reason.
All right, what about hugging. It’s bad manners not to want to hug someone, right?
As a matter of fact, indiscriminately wrapping your arms around people is not only horrible manners, Miss Manners herself would describe it as assault. Offering is okay, sure. But refusing the hug is perfectly fine manners. I don’t much like hugging strangers, myself. I stick my hand out to create some space and make it obvious that the touching I am okay with is a handshake. Good control of facial expression, especially around the eyes, can make this kindly and warm.
LOL. If I had my way, we’d move to the Asian greetings that don’t require touching strangers, but that’s not current North American etiquette.
Good manners was never meant to get people to knuckle under to poor behavior. The point of good manners is to help people get along. Part of getting along is having a way for people to say no to things gracefully. But good manners doesn’t even require that you sweeten a no. Good manners does not require that you answer the door every time someone knocks. It does not require that you answer the phone on every ring. It does not require that you respond to every request for money, nor does it require that you say yes to every invitation.
In fact, in Miss Manners’ Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, she says, “In fact, etiquette has no such requirement. The mistake arises from the fact that it does recognize that one has duties toward others, which is why it will not put up with such duty-dodging attempts as “Why should I thank Grandma for the check just because she wants me to?” And it does require being polite to others, even when they are no role models themselves.
“But that is a far cry from declaring that courtesy means taking everybody else’s orders.”
I know people tend either to love or hate Miss Manners, but I adore her. She’s no doormat and has an utterly wicked sense of humor. One of the things she cautions about in the chapter on saying no politely is that people usually get themselves in trouble when they try to explain themselves saying no.
So, for what it is worth, yes, one should learn to say no, and do so politely. That usually consists of a “No, thank you.” or some such then shutting ones mouth. She encourages a warm and regretful smile and possibly that’s not a bad idea. And the non-verbal “no” that is common in many cultures? No US culture (nope not even the South) requires it, so we’re off the hook for this.
It is indeed very foolish of me, but on the morning of the day I expect Mr F-, I feel as I suppose some village maiden might feel at the return of her sweetheart. What a silly creature you are, I tell myself.
My correspondence brings me a letter from dear Mrs S-, who is very excited at the prospect of their visit to the W-'s estate, seeing dear Lady W- (on whom she has already called once or twice, as in her present condition Lady W- is not making calls, and likes extremely) and also that paragon of womanhood, Mrs F-, and exploring the limestone quarry with Mr S-, who is in the highest hopes that it will contain some most fascinating fossils.
The most extraordinary thing, she goes on: her younger sister V- recently called on her, in a most unusual, she can only say, very chastened mood. This unexpected renewal of sisterly relations quite took her back to the time when she was little V-'s favourite within the family and the big sister she desir'd to emulate with all her heart.
She did not, goes on Mrs S-, disclose the precise reason for this unwonted change in spirits but only says that she has been a very foolish ill -advis'd girl, at which Mrs S- can only speculate as to whether she has been lured into high play, allowed a gentleman inappropriate intimacies, or insulted one of the patronesses of Almacks. Or merely commissioned a gown that she now finds makes her look a complete frump.
Even more astounding, young V- desires her elder sister's aid in resisting any attempt to marry her off to the Earl of E-, which her mamma thinks would be a very excellent thing: as there are no other likely Dukes, being a Countess is almost as good. But my sister says that at least the Duke of M- was a handsome young man that danc'd very well and not a shrivelled old wretch of whom she hears very adverse report. Is this not quite amazing, writes Mrs S-, for I had thought that the title and the position mattered to her far more than the man.
She cannot see that her arguments would be considered very persuasive by parents that have declared they have washed their hands of her: unless she can confirm the adverse reports concerning the Earl. My dear Madame C-, you know everyone and sure would be able to tell whether this is just some freakish distaste of my sister's (though I think marrying a man that old would not be a prudent course in one so very young) or whether there are good reasons to eschew the match.
I am somewhat surpriz'd that Mrs K- does not consider three dead wives a bad sign in an intending husband, but I turn to and set out the case against the Earl (adding some information from my sisterhood which of course may not be adduced to young Miss K-'s parents, but may provide force to Mrs S-'s pleas on her behalf).
And then, at last, after several hours when I find I cannot fix my mind on female philosophy and am reduced to taking up my much-neglect'd embroidery, Hector admits my very dearest Mr F-, and I send him at once to fetch brandy and madeira.
We look happily into one another's faces. Mr F- indeed looks a little worn by his recent travails with the works, but otherwise very well. We kiss, then spring apart as Hector comes in with the tray.
I sit down upon the sopha and pat the place beside me. Come, my dear, sit down and have some of this very excellent brandy that Mr H-'s friends in trade have procured.
We exchange a little news, and then Mr F- looks at me, smiles, and says, I hear that Sir Z- R- has been immortalising your lovely bubbies.
O, only one of them, I say, although parts of the other may be glimpst peeking from the drapery. I demonstrate how I sit as antipodean Flora, with the wombatt in my lap - and then, I say, he will complete the background with an assortment of the antipodean plants from his garden.
I have, it is true, rearranged my garments to indicate the effect. This leads to an impromptu celebration of the rites of Venus, for Mr F- seems quite overwhelmed and cannot keep his hands from me.
This is most delightful, although Mr F- then apologises for his boyish eagerness after so long an interval. O no, I say, you may have been impetuous, my love, but there was nothing of boyish awkwardness or clumsiness there.
(I wonder has somebody spilt upon the sopha some aromatick substance stimulating to the senses, as civet or such, but I can discern nothing.)
(I realise that again, events have overtook anticipatory precaution, but mayhap, I say to myself, 'tis really true what the surgeon told me after the Prussian that it was not likely I could thereafter bear a child, and I have been making an unnecessary layout on spunges for years.)
I hold a small soiree that evening, and although several regular favourites are not in attendance, it is still an agreeable occasion. Dear Biffle looks in for a short while, and squeezes my hand very much as he kisses it: we exchange no conversation but he looks most happy.
Mr P- looks positively amiable, and begins to discourse to Mr N- upon his projected opera. Mr N-, of course, is well-acquainted with Irish legend and is happy to relay this information to Mr P-. I am sure it sounds a deal more fascinating in Mrs O'C-'s charming native tones. In the interval of the musick, Mr G- D- joins in the conversation and remarks that he knows of many Irish airs that might provide a suitable effect.