Wednesday, July 29, 2009


It’s not that we don’t like sweets, sweet people, sweet stories, etc., but we think calling people you don’t know “sweetie” is in appropriate. Interestingly, it seems that not everyone is qualified to become a sweetie. To qualify, you have to be very young (like a baby) or on your way to becoming very old (over 40).

There’s a lovely, young barister at a Starbucks in Harlem – she’s quick, always with a smile and unfortunately, always with a “sweetie” at the end of the transaction. Another barrister in a midtown shop seems to have the same affliction. We don’t think that this is in the training manual. By the way, this is not purely a Starbuck issue, it’s happened to us in other retail establishments.

Could it be about class? We’ve spent a lot of time on Madison Avenue and no salesperson we’ve ever dealt with has ever used the ‘s’ word. It may be upbringing. Our friend in San Francisco known for her charitable work and parties asked us when we first met her children, “How would you like them to address you?” That’s a class act.

Men, we’d like to think, know better than to call a woman they don’t know of any age, “sweetie”. But what gives a young woman even a teenager the right to call another woman and in most cases a stranger, “sweetie”?

The only people we don’t mind calling us “sweetie” is the waiter or waitress in the local diner. “Sweetie” is part of the wonderful, American greasy diner landscape.

What do you think, dear?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Door Drama: To Hold or Not To Hold?

What’s up with doors and the drama surrounding them? There’s always that moment of hesitation when leaving or entering a building – who goes first?

It’s simple – if you’re on the handle side of the door it’s up to you to open it and allow a person to enter or exit. If you’re the one entering and the door opens out, you have the handle so it’s up to you to let the person exit before you enter.

But, it doesn’t work like that. Gender can muddy the situation. Should a man hold the door for a woman? I, Yvette, believe a man should always hold the door for a woman. The woman should be grateful and say so. I’ve noticed that oftentimes women go on mute when men step aside to let them enter a building first or get on a bus or train. Yvonne’s more flexible because she finds that sometimes a man’s chivalry causes door jam. If she gets to the door first, she’s opening the door. However, she thinks it’s charming that men in Italy enter a restaurant first. It was explained to her that the man should check out the place and make sure it’s safe for the woman.

Revolving doors are tricky. The belief is that since these doors can be heavy, the man should go first. We agree, but Yvonne asks, "What if you’re with another woman? Should the bigger of the two do the work?" The same goes for which of two women should enter first, is it age before beauty or diamonds before pearls?

We feel for the poor man who holds the door for one prospective shopper and the next thing he’s holding the door for most of the mall population. They don’t say thank you because they don’t see him. He’s been anointed as The Invisible Doorman.

My number one pet peeve is the door slammers. Someone has been considerate enough to hold the door open for them, yet they walk through, hands free not caring about the person behind them.

Apparently, one person’s open door policy is another’s closed door policy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How To Be A Perfect Guest On A Private Plane

We’ve been a lot of places and seen a lot of things but we’re still a couple of private jet virgins. So that we’ll know what to do when the time comes, we asked a couple of seasoned travelers for some tips.

“Wait for the owner of the plane to assign you a seat,” advises Joy. “To me, it’s the most important rule.” Our friend, Martin, who also travels well, agrees but points out the importance of being punctual. “If ‘wheels up’ is at 9am, make sure you’re there 30 to 45 minutes ahead of time and don’t ask your host for a lift to the airport.” He suggests that you arrange your own transportation and ask for the tail number of the plane.

Unlike going to someone’s home, no need to arrive bearing gifts or a bottle of liquor. ”If it’s a business trip, no gift is necessary,” advises Joy. “If a friend is giving you a lift, you can offer dinner at the destination or send an orchid to the hotel or home where they’ll be staying. Never buy a gift for the plane. They’ve spent millions, it’s already outfitted.” She said there’s nothing wrong with a lovely thank you note.

Martin likes to offer to cater a meal. For example, if it’s a morning flight he’ll bring breakfast from a good deli and give it to the flight attendant to organize.

Always ask your host if it’s all right to bring your clubs along. Don’t over pack, it’s considered bad form to arrive with your whole set of luggage no matter how fabulous it is.

Try and take care of your important natural function of the day before boarding the plane (this is a real tip).

And since you’re really flying high, Martin suggests a pair of sunglasses. Cool.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Special Needs Children Need Your Best Behavior

We would like to think that the days of whispering, pointing and staring when encountering a child or an adult with a neurological impairment are gone. According to one parent of an autistic child there’s still some work to be done. She shared with us some of her dos and don’ts when dealing with special needs children.

Are there questions people ask that you wish they wouldn’t about your daughter?
Only after spending some time with her do people realize that she’s not a typical child. They’ll ask me what’s wrong with her not maliciously but it’s not the way I would pose the question. I will usually tell them that she has special needs. My feeling is that nothing is wrong with her. Thankfully, with all of the awareness and attention given to autism, inappropriate questions are rare.

Is there anything that one should do or not do when they meet your daughter?
Don’t treat her differently. I want people to communicate with her as they would with any child her age. If she interrupts your conversation, don’t let her get away with it and don’t go out of the way to meet an unreasonable request she may have. If she begins to focus on something you’re wearing and wants to hold it, don’t give in. A typical child would be told to ‘knock it off’. Real responses like that are better and more helpful to her.

How do your daughter’s peers treat her and what can their parents teach their kids about having a friend or schoolmate with special needs?
Most kids stare and very few treat her warmly. Their parents have passed their fears on to them and steer them away from her because they feel there’s nothing their children can get from the relationship. I think there’s a lot they can learn from a friendship with my daughter. She has the same wishes and desires as any child. I would like parents to instruct their kids to be as real as possible with my daughter. They should teach their kids to feel more at ease with special needs children.

Have you ever had to straighten someone out with respect to how they treated your daughter?
Once, a librarian wanted to ban my daughter from the local library because she had an outburst. Instead of explaining to her that she may have to wait a short period before using the library again, she berated her as if she'd lost control on purpose and told her she could never return. People should understand that behavioral issues often go hand in hand with neurological impairment.

What is the most thoughtful thing someone has said or done for you and your family?
I’m always touched by the way close friends and family rally around my daughter. My girlfriends are my comfort. If they’re close to me they’re going to have be close to her. When people are kind that kindness not only comes through in their actions but also in the actions of their children. Between friends and extended family there is a lot of love around my daughter.