Manners for Moderns, pt. 3

Here’s the third installment in our look at Manners for Moderns, a 1938 etiquette guide for young men.

III

PARTY LINES

A man of breeding does not suppose himself to be either the sole or principal object of the thoughts, looks, or words of the company, and never suspects that he is either slighted or laughed at unless he is conscious that he deserves it; and if the company should absurd or ill-bred enough to do either, he does not care two pence unless the insult be gross or plain. As he is above trifles, he is never vehement and eager about them, and, whenever they are concerned, rather acquiesces than wrangles.
— LORD CHESTERFIELD
Being a
Guest in
Palace or
Cottage

Let us suppose that you have been invited to a party by Mr. and Mrs. P. Bushwhacker Ontop. The Ontops have a vast house with a complete staff of servants and could entertain all Mrs. Goldore’s plush pets with the greatest of ease. You go there expecting wine, women, and song and an evening revelry.

The next evening Cinderella Littlerocks asks you over for dinner with her family. She has five little brothers who are holy terrors, an uncle who reminds you of Gracie Allen’s radio uncle, a father who eats in his shirt sleeves; and after dinner you will help Cinderella and her mother do the dishes.

Is there going to be any difference in your manners at the Ontop place and at the four-room Littlerocks’ bungalow? Not if you know your etiquette! Nope! If you’re wise on what to do, you’ll know that your attitude, as a guest, should be exactly the same in the two houses.

 

There Are
Certain
Things a
Guest Owes
His Host.

After accepting an invitation, you are the guest of the person giving it, and have placed yourself under certain obligations to that person. Perhaps you have already thought of a host as a person who is supposed to see that his guest has a good time. But have you ever thought that the duty of the guest is to make his host believe he (the guest) is having a good time every minute he is being entertained? For this is the first duty, or obligation, of a guest; To act as though he enjoys himself every minute he is another’s house.

There isn’t any terribly difficult hocus-pocus about carrying out this idea. In fact, it’s so easy we wonder why more people don’t make it a rule for everyday behavior. It’s a sure-fire popularity getter and it’s guaranteed to make every host or hostess remember you with the kindest of thoughts.

The first thing is to forget all about yourself and to get interested in the people around you. At first glance some of them may seem like terrific bores, but if you remember the old author’s saying, “There is a story in everyone’s life,” you may find a clue to an interesting conversation. Under the surface almost everyone has some one great passion or absorbing interest. Try to ask questions which will bring this to light and remember that every man or woman has some knowledge it may pay you to discover. If Miss Charity Crabapple likes cats, be interested in cats while you’re with her. Ask her if she thinks cats have personality and why. If Judge Dryknot is a believer in prohibition, don’t argue with him. Try to find out on what grounds he bases his belief.

While at a party you should never do anything which might offend anyone else. Be good-natured. Keep your temper. Agree with Mrs. Victoria McSnodgrass when she says that automobiles are a menace to civilization, if by agreeing you are doing the only thing to keep the peace. If you feel that you can’t honorably agree with another guest, keep still or be good-natured about stating your point. And don’t argue. A party is no place for a fight–either by mouth or fists.

This doesn’t mean that you are never going to advance any original ideas or opinions. No one wants to be remembered as a Casper Milquetoast who never has a thought of his own. But watch how you do it. Everyone has a right to his own opinion and yours may not be any more valuable than the other fellow’s.

A man who respects himself and wishes respect from others is going to be neither overawed by the company he’s in nor overbearing in insisting on expressing himself. He is going to remember that the first meaning of courtesy is consideration for other people.

If you try to cultivate this attitude all the time, in every dealing you have with anyone, you will find it is going to repay you big dividends in friendship, popularity, and business advancement. But if you don’t think about it ordinarily, then it is a good idea to brush your mind while you’re brushing your hair before a party. You want people to remember you afterward as a pleasant and interesting fellow. Not everyone is gifted to be the “life of the party,” but everyone can be so interested in his fellow man that they will always think of him with liking and respect.

Arrive at a
Party at the
Time You
Were
Invited.

When you arrive at a party, you will always search out your hostess and speak to her before you do anything else. (Except, of course, leaving your hat on a hall table or the provided place.) Naturally your hostess wants to know if you have arrived.

If you are late, you should apologize as gracefully as you can. If you have a really good excuse, you should give it. Otherwise, tell your hostess that you are sorry to have been delayed. Be sincere and she will understand and forgive you.

If ever you find that you must be late to a dinner party, it is courteous to telephone your hostess and tell her not to wait the meal for you. Then, when you arrive, enter quietly, greet the hostess and guests, apologize briefly if necessary, and begin eating with the course which is on the table. Tell your hostess that you’d rather the previous courses weren’t served you (soup, salad, or whatever they may have been), as serving you will delay everyone in continuing the meal.

It is very rude and unkind to be late at any party if you can possibly help it. Any invitation should be taken as an honor to yourself. Try to show that you appreciate it by being on time.

Don’t outstay your welcome. It is better to be the first to leave than to be that last guest who stays so long he has his host and hostess yawning in their sleeves. You can judge your leaving time by the sort of entertainment it is. If you have come to dinner and afterward sit and talk, you should stay about two or three hours afterward. There’s no rule on this. Circumstances will always be different.

Don’t Hang
Around
When the
Party Is
Over.

If you have been asked for a definite period, such as a week-end, be sure to leave at the end of that period.

When you are ready to leave any party, thank your hostess for the entertainment, say good night quietly, and leave. Don’t linger around the door with your hat in your hand, making your host wish you would get the leave-taking over. Just say, “Thank you for such a nice time. Good night,” or something similar. Make your departure short and sweet. It’s so much better to have people say after you’ve gone: “That Dick Dangerous is such a nice person. I wish he hadn’t had to go so soon!” than: “My gosh! I thought he’d never get away. I was asleep on my feet!”

The obligations of a guest are repeated here in outline form. You will have no trouble having a good time anywhere if you remember them:

THE PARTY MIND-BRUSH
1. Don’t be late
2. Speak to your hostess when you arrive.
3. Forget yourself entirely. Concentrate on other people
4. Never do or say anything which might offend anyone.
5. Act as though you are having a grand time every minute.
6. Keep your temper. Be above trifles.
7. Don’t be a stay-forever pest. Leave at the end of the time for which you were invited.
8. Thank your hostess before you leave. Make your good-by short and sweet.
Making
Introduc-
tions Is No
Trick at All.

There’s no deep dark secret about how to make introductions. There are a few simple rules which you can memorize in about two minutes and after that toss off the ceremony like a diplomat.

Always introduce a man to a women. (The form is almost like asking her permission.) If it’s a question of two men and two women, you always introduce the younger to the older. Don’t say “Meet John Doakes” or “I want to make you acquainted with —-.” There are two or three simple phrases which sound much smoother and more man-about-townish. You may say, “May I present?” or, “Do you know?” or, “I should like you to know.” We’ll give illustrations later.

If at an informal party you are introducing a lot of people at once, it is all right just to say their names, like: “Miss Crabapple, Judge Dryknot . . . Judge Dryknot, Mr. Ontop . . . Miss Crabapple, Miss Littlerocks,” etc.

When introducing two people about your age, you should always call them Mr. and Miss, though you may have told each the complete life story of the other and know they’ll reach the “Toots” and “Nicky” stage in five minutes. If it’s a case of such hurried informality as four in a roadster, you might stretch a point and say, “Helen Ontop, this is Joe Doakes.”

When you have been introduced to someone, don’t ever (if you value your reputation for being a wise young man) say, “Pleased to meetcha” or make smart cracks, or in any other way give yourself a bad start. On the other hand, don’t be stiff or overly formal. Most people instinctively distrust the overly courteous, showily formal person. Try to leave an impression of friendliness and sincerity without overdoing the job. It is enough to say, either to a man or a woman, “How do you do.”

When and
How to
Shake Hands

When a man is presented to a woman, they shake hands if she wants to. Wait for her to put out her hand. Always stand up for any introduction. Give a handshake that’s got character but don’t overdo it. Don’t hold out your hand as though it were a dead fish. Don’t give a pump-handle imitation. Don’t try to break all the bones in the other person’s fingers.

Look directly at the person you are meeting. A shrinking, downcast look labels you either as a “weak sister” or a scamp.

Shake hands when you are introduced to another man.

Various
Techniques
in Introduc-
ing and
Being
Introduced

If you want two people to like each other and get along from that instant with the least trouble, it’s a good idea that will start them talking. Thus: “Miss Ontop, may I present Mr. Dangerous” He’s from Hollywood, visiting our town for the first time.” Then to him: “Miss Ontop was in Hollywood for two months last year. Her brother, the artist, lives down there.”

Always say names slowly and distinctly when making an introduction. Haven’t you ever been left talking to a perfect stranger after an introduction which so mumbled the name that you didn’t even know what to call him? Try to catch the name of anyone being introduced to you. Say it over in your mind three or four times to fix it there. A good memory for names can easily be developed. It’s a very flattering trick to master and can often be practical.

If you didn’t understand the name, don’t be bashful about asking the stranger to tell it. Say, “I’m sorry I didn’t understand your name perfectly and I want to know it.” If it’s a very odd name, you can even ask to have it spelled, if you do so with a smile and the attitude that you are interested in the other person. But never laugh or “wisecrack” at an odd name. Its owner might be, probably is, sensitive about it.

Never say, “Haven’t we met before?” if you are being introduced to someone who shows no sign of remembering you. You can clear up the mystery later. And don’t let yourself be introduced to someone you know very well and then laugh about it. Speak up and say “Hello” to the other person. You’ll spare embarrassment to everyone.

Never try to force two people on each other. Introduce them, give them a hint or two to start them talking, and then let them alone. If it’s going to take, it will. If it isn’t, you can’t do anything about it. And if you feel that you are extraordinarily gifted as a matchmaker, forget it. For every friend you make with this technique you’ll earn a dozen healthy enemies.

If you are introducing one person to a big group it’s very tiresome to say all the names at once, and the person being introduced often feels embarrassed and shy. You can say, “Look, people, I want you to know Bill Goodsport.” Then take Bill to two or three people you think he’ll get along with best, introduce him to each and leave him. At some time in the evening all the others will introduce themselves to him. There is a general rule that being guests under one roof constitutes an introduction. So don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to anyone else at a party. It’s the thing that’s done.

If you are taking your best girl home to meet your family for the first time, you will introduce her to your mother but introduce your father to her. Thus: “Mother, this is Elsie Topnotch. Elsie, I should like you to know my Dad.”

If you are walking with a friend (man or woman) and a friend of his stops him for a talk, you stroll on a few steps and leave them alone. Don’t stand there with a foolish grin on your face unless you’ve been introduced at once.

A Few
Sample
Introduc-
tions Just
in Case

You are walking down the street with Joe Doakes and his sister Lotta, when out of a store sails Gwendolyn Mazuma’s great-aunt Abigail Ettyketti. She is too, too delighted to see you and you have to stop. How to get Joe and Lotta into the conversation?

You go into your conversation like this:

“Miss Ettyketti, may I present Miss Lotta Doakes? And Mr. Joseph Doakes?”

That hurdle is crossed. You breathe easier as Miss Ettyketti takes such a fancy to Lotta that she asks her to call. But, alas! here comes Cinderella Littlerocks with Judge Dryknot. They stop, too. No one of the two parties knows another and it’s up to you to be the good angel. But you know what to do. You’re nonchalant without having to light a cigarette. You begin:

“Miss Ettyketti, may I present Miss Littlerocks? And Judge Dryknot? . . . Miss Littlerocks, Miss Doakes and Mr. Doakes . . . Miss Doakes, Judge Dryknot . . . Judge Dryknot, Mr. Doakes.”

There you are. Aunt Abigail begins to think you are a worthy suitor for Gwendolyn’s hand. The judge thinks he’ll give you a rousing recommendation for that job at the Mazuma factory. Cinderella and Lotta look at you with admiration. Joe envies you your worldly air though he may kid you about it to conceal his wish that he could be like you. Altogether you’ve covered yourself with glory.

CHECK-LIST ON INTRODUCTIONS
1. Always introduce a man to a woman.
2. When introducing two men or two women, always introduce the younger to the older.
3. Say “May I present?”
Or “I should like you to know.”
4. Always use proper titles such as Miss, Mr., Mrs., Captain, Doctor, Judge.
5. Shake hands like a man with a man.
With a woman only if she first offers her hand.
6. Always stand up to be introduced, or to make introductions.
7. Look squarely at the person you are meeting. Let your glance be firm but friendly.
8. Say “How do you do” after being introduced. Never say “Pleased to meetcha.”
9. Speak names clearly. Drop a hint if you want people to talk.
10. Catch the name if you can. Ask for it if you didn’t.
That First
Impression

When you’re talking to Mrs. Ontop, who flourishes a mean eyeglass, it’s a pretty sure thing that you won’t forget to address her with proper respect by calling her “Mrs. Ontop.” That same respect is due all women. Just because Cinderella Littlerocks is your own age and doesn’t live in a big house is no reason to suppose she’ll think any more of you if you call her “Sugar” or “Babe” or “Cinderella” as soon as you meet her. If she wants to be called by her first name or a nickname, she’ll tell you so. Until then, call her “Miss Littlerocks.” Treat the names of all women with the same care.

A Too
Familiar
Manner Is
a Show of
Bad Taste.

Many a person gives himself away by the manner in which treats those people who wait on him in some capacity, waitresses, salesgirls, and so on. Don’t be familiar or “smart” with them. Because girl has a job is no reason to treat her with less courtesy than you’d give debutante Gwendolyn Mazuma, whose father you hope is going to give you a position in one of his dozen factories. Be kind and courteous to all those persons who serve you. Your manner to them is a definite proof of what sort of person you are.

Your intimate friends are deserving of some respect from you. Be careful about the nicknames you use. Many a person’s life has been ruined by the unthinking use of a nickname which was a source of secret torment to him. Such a name as “Squirt,” “Freckles,” “Limpy,” “Skinny,” or “Fatty” may be hitting a tender spot every time you use it. Stop and think whether you weren’t called some name you hated when you were a kid. If you like a man well enough to want him for a friend, treat him with the respect you like to get.

If you were going into the office of Gwendolyn’s father to ask him for a job, you’d be pretty careful to address him as “Mr. Mazuma” and to answer “Yes, sir” and “No, sir” when he spoke to you. If your manners are so letter-perfect that you never have to think of them, you’ll give every man you know that same courtesy. After all it’s only practical–you never know from whom you may need to ask a favor!

Always respond with “Yes, sir,” “No, sir,” to any man who is in a position of authority regarding you, or whose special knowledge or age demands respect. If a man has an official title, you should use that in addressing him, preceding his name, as “Major Mullins,” “Captain Arnold,” “Dr. Brown,” “Mr. White.”

Never address any man by a contraction of these titles unless you are such an intimate friend that he has given permission (i.e. “Doc,” “Cap,” and so on).

Perhaps you may not like the man you are addressing and it is very trying to have to show him outward respect, but that makes no difference in the etiquette game. In the United States Army it is the custom of enlisted men to salute their officers, but a man saluting knows he is not paying respect to a person, but to the uniform of a branch of our government and all it stands for. That is a very good thing to remember, for it may help to determine your attitude toward other men. You are never lowering yourself by any respect you show another. On the contrary, you are showing the opinion you have of yourself.

Toward anyone who is a teacher you should show as much respect as you would give an employer. Names have been given to them as to others to act as identification tags. They are meant to be used. It is very bad manners to call anyone “Hey, you!” or “Look!” or simply “Applegate.” Say, “Mister Applegate” and answer him with “No, sir,” and “Yes, sir.” Any teacher has knowledge which he is trying to pass along, and it is to your interest to show him every courtesy you are able, from paying attention when he talks to addressing him in the proper manner.

Tipping
One’s Hat
to a Lady
Is a Rule
with No
Exceptions.

Always remove your hat when you meet a lady and stop to talk to her on the street. If you pass an acquaintance, tip your hat. We hope you take it off in the house! And in elevators when ladies are present, unless it’s so crowded you can’t get your arms up.

A gentleman will stand up when a lady enters or leaves the room, most especially so if she has been talking to him or approaches his chair. However, if you are spending an evening with Gwendolyn Mazuma and her mother and Aunt Abigail keep going in and out, you won’t pop up like a Jack-in-the-box every time they leave or return. But be sure you stand when they first enter! Offer a lady your chair and find yourself another.

When you are dining in a café and a woman you know stops at your table, you will stand up and continue standing until she leaves or sits down.

Some You
Greet with
a How-do-
you-do.

You will stand, too, when Gwendolyn’s father enters, or any man of age or authority. If you are being introduced to Gwen’s younger brother, Midas, you will stand and shake hands. If you already know Midas, you don’t have to be so formal, but it’s manners always to greet him with “Hello” or “Good evening.”

If you pass on the street someone you have met, it is correct to say, “How do you do.” If it’s a boy or girl your own age, you can say “Hello,” but older people like to be greeted more formally.

The person who is too familiar on short acquaintance is listed automatically as a person who has so little regard for himself that he would broadcast his most private affairs.

Do not try to “push” an acquaintance by being careless in the way you address the other person–man or woman. Make respectful address to others a habit. The man who chances to hear you speak too familiarly to another may some day be the man from whom you want a recommendation.

Invitations:
Formal and
Informal

Nowadays invitations are issued by telephone quite as much as by notes. Always answer an invitation right away. If it’s an unexpected phone call and you want a little time to think about it, you can say, “Do mind if I let you know? I’m not sure I’ll be free Tuesday.” But be sure you give an answer within twenty-four hours! Always thank the giver of an invitation for the kindness in thinking of you.

If you receive a written invitation, you should answer it at once. it’s very rude to keep a hostess in doubt as to how many guests to expect. If you decline the invitation, you should be polite about it. A little note saying “I regret I cannot accept but I want to thank you for asking me” will make a hit with anyone.

Crashing a
Party

If you have been asked long in advance and have declined the invitation, then, several days before the party, find out you can attend, you can call up the hostess, explain the situation, and ask if it is all right to come. But unless you do that, don’t try to “crash” a party you have refused. And never, never, NEVER try to “crash” a party to which you have not been invited. Such behavior, in the eyes of all present, would stamp you immediately as a person of the roughest, most ill-bred sort.

You should never take anyone along to a party with the consent of your hostess. Ring her up and tell her about your friend. Usually she’ll be delighted to have an extra man but extra girls are a problem.

Thank-You
Letters

After a week-end party, or an overnight visit, you will face the problem of a “bread-and-butter” letter. This doesn’t have to be long. Just a few words to your hostess that you enjoyed a delightful visit,–even if you had to ride in a rumble seat and rain spoiled your new hat and you got ptomaine from the chowder. if you can make your note clever and original, that’s all to the good. If you can’t, be satisfied to make it short and a friendly “thank you.” Write it the day after you get home.

Teas and
Buffet
Suppers

Lots of people drink tea, and the time may come when you wonder why, as you try to juggle a full set of utensils in one hand and eat with the other. Our best advice is, don’t try.

Far better than trying to balance on one knee a napkin, cup, saucer, spoon, assorted sandwiches, and cake, is to put it all on the corner of a small table, or a window sill, or other convenient shelf, and enjoy your food without the threat of an accident disturbing your digestion.

At teas and buffet suppers it is up to the men to see that the ladies are fed. If your hostess has no servants, she is probably very busy with tea and coffee pots, and she will forever think of you fondly if you make yourself useful by helping distribute the food.

Helping to
Serve the
Ladies

Ask the lady with you what she’d like and get it for her. Or prove your devotion by seeing that she is at once provided with food and drink.

When carrying a plate, be sure to see that your thumb doesn’t come over the rim of it toward the food. Glasses should never be picked up with fingers spread over their tops. Pick up a glass by its stem or lower part.

You might ask your hostess what you can do to assist her. Probably there will be nothing, but it produces a warm glow toward you in her heart.

Being a
Popular
Week-end
Guest
Should Be
Your Aim.

If you have been asked for a week-end party, it is a nice gesture to take along a little present for your hostess, or for her children, if she has any. This shouldn’t be too expensive; ten-cent-store toys for the children and something simple for the hostess. If you’re clever at making things, you can take something you’ve produced. Or an inexpensive bunch of flowers will please her. Just something to show you appreciate her hospitality.

On a week-end party you should try to fit yourself into the regular household routine. Before you go to bed you can ask what time the family has breakfast. If it’s very early and there’s no alarm clock in your room, you can ask to be called.

Try to make yourself useful around the house and be as little trouble as possible. Don’t mess up your room any more than you have to and don’t leave the bathroom a damp and dripping place when you come out of it. Show that you don’t want a lot of extra “fuss” made over you and that you’d rather fit into the family’s daily program. Smile at everything, don’t be cross over anything, and as though you are having the best time of your life.

When the
Week-end
Is Over,
Don’t Linger
On.

Leave promptly at the end of the period for which you were invited. Say good-by to every member of the family who is at home and thank your hostess for a pleasant time. And don’t forget to write your bread-and-butter letter the day after you get home!

A monologue is a speech delivered by a single performer. Very few monologuists are popular at parties. The idea is that everybody should have a good time.

Conversation
Hints

Your idea of fun might be to ramble over your whole life history or offer a long-winded account of how you had your tonsils out, but probably these are not stirring topics on interest to anyone else. Don’t talk about yourself very much. Answer personal questions if they are asked but otherwise leave yourself out of it.

Try to find out what things interest the other person and ask questions. Get the other person talking whenever you can. It’s an old, old saying that the man who is said to be the best conversationalist always turns out to be the best listener! Listen with attention, ask leading questions, and you’ll make yourself a whale of a reputation for brilliance.

Try to include everyone around you in the conversation. You can always ask opinions on whatever is under discussion. It’s very rude to whisper or get one other person in a corner and spend the whole evening in a huddle. Mix with everyone and make your interest general. If you must see Joe Doakes on a very personal matter, then ask to be excused, take him aside, tell him about it, and come back to the rest of the party.

A monologue is a speech delivered by a single performer. Very few monologuists are popular at parties. The idea is that everybody should have a good time.

Tell Your
Own Stories
and Let
Others Tell
Theirs.

Don’t interrupt when someone is telling a story, and if there’s a pause by the speaker for a name or a word, don’t jump to supply it. Wait a bit, until you are asked or until you see the speaker is getting embarrassed by his temporary lapse in memory. Then you may give the word quietly, but not in such a way that it is going to spoil the effect of his story. Then don’t say, “I know a better one.” Let him have his little triumph. You can tell your story later.

You’ll avoid slips and embarrassing blunders and nervous mistakes if you take your time while talking. And you’ll sound much more worldly and sure of yourself. If you should get twisted, don’t stammer with embarrassment. Stop! Laugh! Then go on quietly or begin again. Think about what you are saying and not about what people are thinking of you, and you’ll always have yourself under control.

If you find yourself next to someone you don’t know at all, you can always start the machinery whizzing by a self-introduction which gives several identifying tags as well as your name. This sort of thing: “Hello! I’m Horace Hustler. I work in the office of the Ontop Copper Company, where I’m trying to convince ’em I’m as bright as our product. I like Scotch terriers and Mexican food and Ginger Rogers and circuses, and I think every school ought to teach a course in how to get acquainted with as little pain as possible. Now tell me about you.” Then subside for a moment and give the other person a chance.

Be Yourself:
Amusing if
Possible, but
Not So Clever
That It
Hurts.

Be as interesting and amusing as possible, but don’t try too hard if that isn’t in your line. Clever people are nice companions for a while, but often they’re terribly annoying to have around for any length of time. If you’ll notice, a whole lot of cleverness comes from making remarks about other people, and no one likes to feel he’s going to be made a joke as soon as he is out of the room. Clever people often pay a high price in friendship for the laughs they get.

Another thing you might remember is that there’s a lot of competition in the “cleverness” line. Nine people out of ten try to be clever, and a big percentage succeed only in being dull or strained. That’s why you would find a clever man tiresome if you had to live with him day after day. He’s working under a strain, and when he sinks below his best, you immediately notice it.

If being serious and quiet and old-fashioned is your style, then be that way. Don’t try to be something you aren’t. But if you are a bit dumb, it’s better to be quiet. Perhaps then they’ll think you’re deep. As long as you are interested in other people they will like to be with you. And in the long run you will find yourself much more popular than your clever friend who is funny all right, but has everyone half afraid of being the target of his next joke.

Swearing,
Slang, and
Wisecracks
Are Not
Smart at a
Party.

You’ll want to watch your language at any party. Swearing, of course, is absolutely out! Maybe it was all right to show off in that line when you were ten and were just learning what the big boys meant. But now you’re supposed to be grown up enough so that you don’t have to toss a string of swear words to prove you know your way around. Swearing can get to be a very costly habit. Sometime it may cost you a nice friendship or a job. Lots of employers object to rough language around their establishments.

We ought to include slang with swearing in the list of “don’ts.” New slang phrases and wisecracks sound funny when you hear them for the first time. They begin to get pretty dull with the ‘teenth time they’re shot at your ears, and by hundredth–well!

That’s the way all wisecracks get eventually. They have punch only when they’re new, and once you let any one popular phrase creep into your conversation you’re well on your way to being a bore. Everyone has known some fellow whose stock answer to every remark was “Oh, yeah?” Those things get your a reputation for being a dim-wit.

Steer Clear
of Unpleas-
ant Subjects
of Conversa-
tion and
Gossip.

Party conversations ought to be bright and enthusiastic, and fun. You’re supposed to be having a good time, so you do your best to keep unpleasant things out of the talk. This includes horror stories of operations and accidents, the way your stomach misbehaves, and how your cousin Maggie’s husband mistreated her before she got a divorce. A very rude thing to talk about (as well as a wise one to avoid!) is gossip about other people at the party or their friends. Gossip is as bad a habit as swearing. People steer away from the person who gets his biggest kick out of carrying tales about someone else.

TALK TIPS
Do–
1. Try to find what interests the other fellow and let him talk about it.
2. Be a good listener.
3. Take your time when talking.
4. Introduce yourself when necessary.
5. Watch your language. Beware of swearing–and old slang.

Don’t–
1. “Hog” the conversation.
2. Talk about yourself exclusively.
3. Interrupt or spoil anyone’s story.
4. Try to be too clever.
5. Talk about unpleasant things.
6. Gossip about anyone.


Behavior?

When you enter a house for a party, you will take off your hat, but where shall you put it? If your hostess doesn’t direct you to a place, or take it from you, you may put it down on a hall chair or table. If this is a small house without a hall, you may put your hat on top of the piano or on a side table. But don’t stand around holding it in your hands as though all you needed was a bunch of pencils to go into business!

Be careful about tracking mud into a house. Always clean your feet carefully before you get to the door if you think there’s any chance that you might carry in dirt. Take the chair that your hostess indicates. If she doesn’t tell you where to sit, draw up a chair to a group. When you sit down, sit on the part of your anatomy that’s made for the purpose. In other words: Don’t slouch on the middle of your spine or throw yourself full length on a couch or put your feet up on a table or another chair. Show that you’re interested enough in the party not to be looking for a nap or a rest cure!

If you clasp your hands in front of you or behind your back, you won’t seem as self-conscious as you will if you continually thrust them into your pockets, run them through your hair, tuck your thumbs under your belt or behind your suspenders, or drum your fingers on a table top. Relax! Parties are supposed to for fun.

Don’t go around chewing on a pencil or a toothpick, or cleaning your nails. Toothpicks are not for use in public. Nail files are for use before you get to a party.

Don’t be a back-slapping pest, or be pushing or pulling at anyone. Lots of people don’t like to be touched. Keep your hands to yourself.

Go easy on the furniture. Pillow-throwing is a sport of the baby age. So is bouncing on the davenport and breaking phonograph records. Remember that furniture is the property of your host and he has had to pay for it. Treat it with as much consideration as you’d give to one of your own possessions–a new car, for instance.

Be careful where you put wet glasses. Moisture makes marks on polished surfaces, and you may be ruining Mrs. Mazuma’s priceless antique table by being careless. In stores of late years there has been a constantly increasing demand for those small round pads called “coaster.” They were invented to be placed under drinking glasses to prevent the marring of fine furniture by careless guests. Don’t put wet glasses on books or polished furniture or any other surface that may be injured. Be considerate of the people who are entertaining you.

Cigarettes
and Ash
Trays Should
Go Together.

We should class cigarettes with the wet-glass evil. Ash trays are meant to receive cigarette stubs. Look around for one when you get ready to put out your cigarette–even if you’ve been throwing your ashes on the floor, which we certainly hope you haven’t!

The cost, in this country, of yearly repairs to furniture damaged by cigarettes would make even a Congressman pale.

We repeat: Use an ash tray. Your hostess would rather a thousand times that you’d ask for one than to have you drop cigarette butts or ashes on the fine rug. And don’t ever lay a lighted cigarette on the edge of a table mantel, chair, window sill, book, or anything else. It’s too easy to forget, and it leaves an ugly scar as a reminder of your visit. You’d hate to be remembered as a person who doesn’t care about the property of other people.

Don’t take liquor to parties with you. If your hostess wants it, she’ll serve it. If she wants you to bring some, she’ll tell you in advance or ask you to contribute while you’re there. We do hope you aren’t the sort of person who gets “pretty well tanked up” before he goes to a party. If you are, we’ll bet you don’t get asked to many.

Loud
Behavior
Is Bad
Advertising.

Keep your voice and manners quiet. Noisy people are a menace to the fun of everybody. No hostess wants a policeman ringing her doorbell to complain that her guests are disturbing the peace.

Loud behavior is a dead give-away that you don’t know what to do. The well-bred man of the world is a quiet person. He knows he doesn’t have to bang a gong to have his personality register. Remember it’s what kind of impression you’re making that counts.

How you behave when you’re the host isn’t that much different from how you behave when you’re a guest. Good manners should be so much a part of your daily life that you don’t have to think about them to wear them all the time.

If It’s Your
Party, See
That Your
Guests Enjoy
Themselves.

When you’re giving a party, you want everyone to have a good time. Your guests will take the cue you give them. Be simple and natural and interested in seeing that everyone is enjoying himself. Make your guests feel as comfortable as possible, make them feel “at home.” Keep an eye out for the bashful people; see that they are introduced around and that they’re a part of some group. If it is a big party, you can ask a few of your best friends to help you do this.

Use the tips we gave you in “Introductions” to get people talking to one another. A few lively games often get a mixed group well acquainted and in a happy spirit, or there are lots of books on games which you might study in advance of your party. Again, you can ask a friend or two to help you start things.

Don’t Give a
Party That’s
a Strain on
the Pocket-
book.

Keep your party within your pocket book. Never try to entertain in a manner you can’t afford. Your friends would far rather take what you can easily give them than feel that you are doing something so “extra special” you will suffer for it afterward. You’ll be happier and more at ease and a better host if you aren’t worrying about the expense. You want to keep from being nervous, for that is catching to your guests and they will become restless and strained,–and miserable. Then your party will be a flop!

Far better to provide a simple picnic with a lot of fun than try to give a banquet and worry about it every minute. Forget about yourself and concentrate on making your guests know that you are happy they are with you.

Get the
Party Started
Right, Then
Let It Roll
on Its Own
Momentum.

Don’t be nervous about the success of your party. If you are genuinely anxious for everyone to have a good time, and do everything you can to make each one at ease and part of the group, your party will succeed of itself. But don’t be overanxious. Never insist on a game unless you think most of the group would like it. Never break up interesting conversations to do “something else.” Getting ’em glad they’re there is the most important thing. Get the ice broken in an amusing or interesting way and your party will gather fun like a snowball rolling down hill.

A few of those tricky wire puzzles sold in ten-cent stores are sometimes a way of keeping people amused until all the crowd is there. Just scatter them about on tables and say nothing about them. And don’t forget simple “get-acquainted” games.

If you are going to take a few people to a restaurant, it is a good plan to make arrangements with the headwaiter ahead of time and pay the bill then. Most people don’t object to having their meals selected for them, if the food is good. It will show you’ve put some thought on the entertainment and save you delay at the end of the meal.

If you’re going to a show, buy tickets ahead of time so you won’t have to keep your guests waiting while you stand in line.

Don’t Keep
Nagging a
Week-End
Guest.

If you take a guest home for the week-end, make him feel he’s going to be one of the family. Try to make him comfortable and take it for granted that he will like what entertainment you can easily provide. He wouldn’t have accepted your invitation otherwise. Don’t think you have to entertain him every minute. Maybe he picked up that magazine because he wanted to look at it. Don’t keep saying, “Look, Joe, let’s do this.” Give him his choice instead. Say, “What would you like to do? We might go swimming at the lake, take a ride, or play tennis with the Ontop girls. Or, we might just loaf! Take your choice!”

Don’t insist and insist on your guests staying after they have said they have to go. You may say, “Oh, really, must you leave so early?” and make them believe you’d like ’em to stay on. If they are having a good time, they won’t leave until they feel they must. But never coax anyone to stay longer.

The real test of party manners is the ability to make other people comfortable. If we seem to have mentioned this before, it’s be cause it is so important. There is a nice half-way point between absolutely neglecting people (too little courtesy) and between too much fussing (too elaborate formality). That is the point for which you want to aim. It consists of tolerance, kindness, genuine good-humor, and warmth of heart.

Whether you’re a host or a guest, keep yourself under control at all times. Train yourself to take your time. Don’t be hurried, excited, or too eager. This is the secret of that much-talked-of and valuable asset known as “poise.” It only means controlling yourself as expertly as you control a motor car on a crowded highway. And isn’t this business of getting through life, and getting along with people, very much like driving down a busy road. Are you going to be a laughing, courteous driver, or are you going to be one who has arguments and dented fenders? Poise is the secret of your good brakes. It will give weight and value to your opinions, make you more attractive, and help you master any situation.

Remember that in social life it is your privilege to be friendly and helpful to other people. It has its own big reward in giving you new fun and interest in life. Never forget that your own delight in doing things will shine over everything you do. That is the big secret of being a social success.

<< Read Part 2 of Manners for Moderns | Read Part 4 of Manners for Moderns >>

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