Sunday, December 19, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We'll be back in 2011.

Yvonne and Yvette

Monday, December 13, 2010

HOLIDAY TIPPING POINTS:WHEN DOORMEN BECOME DOORMEN

It's time to peel off crisp bills and give them to those whom we believe have gone beyond their duty to make our living where we live more pleasant during the year. We also tip these people because they tend to make less than the tippers - not so these days with many tippers out of work and doormen know that. They know everything. They know that you're spending more time at home and you've traded in your smart wardrobe for jeans and sweaters. They know that you're receiving fewer packages and your dry cleaning pick-ups and deliveries are down. These are difficult times indeed and you don't have to apologize for them if you're not tipping this year. In many cases economics have nothing to do with it, tenants who tip all year round don't find it necessary to tip when the holidays roll around.

We notice that the day after Thanksgiving, doormen become more like doormen. In some buildings where they're not expected to open the door all the time, they can't get there fast enough. They ask if they can carry your packages for you. Instead of a pleasant nod, they open their mouthes and greet you by name. These actions are followed by a card or a sheet listing all the names of the staff. It's usually a simple card wishing you peace and joy and of course wishing for a tip. Yvette's building doesn't bother with a card, they slip a list under each tenant's door. Only one doorman sends personal thank you notes, the others sign a thank you sheet.

The building card or sheet can be helpful. It helps you see the spelling of names so that you can address their card by name and make it more personal and genuine. And it also gives you an idea of how much money you'll need on your next visit to the bank. If you've had a difficult year, this could be the last card you'll want to open.

You may be tempted to make some cookies to give in lieu of money or give a bottle of wine. We have mixed feelings about that. Yvette thinks cookies are fine if that's the best you can do. But if you calculate the ingredients and the time it takes to make cookies, you probably could afford to put ten bucks in an envelope. Which would you prefer? A cookie? A bottle of wine? Or money?

Here's our tip - if you can do it, do it, if you can't, don't. And if you don't want to, you don't have to.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

ELAINE KAUFMAN OF ELAINE’S ON DINING, WINING AND WHINING

Asked if she ever goes gaga over the famous people who come to her restaurant known for it’s famous clientele that includes prolific writers, filmmakers, actors and other consummate New Yorkers, Elaine Kaufman, owner of the famous Elaine’s on New York's Upper Eastside thinks for a moment, looks at Diane Becker, the restaurant’s superb, no nonsense manager and responds, “Sidney Poitier was awesome.

“And remember Harry Belafonte?” Diane reminds her. “Yeah, but,” adds Elaine, “When Fellini and his wife came in with Marcello Mastroianni…” her voice trails off as if she’s reliving that amazing moment.

“We have some funny people coming here, most of them are fine and then there are those whose demands aren’t consistent with manners,” Elaine points out.

Here are some of Elaine’s dos and don’ts when you're on her turf.

DON’T WALK UP TO A TABLE AND GUSH AS SOMEONE’S ABOUT TO TAKE A BITE, NO MATTER HOW FABULOUS THEY ARE OR HOW DRUNK YOU ARE

“They’re about to eat and someone actually is coming up to them to tap them to get their attention, " said Elaine shaking her head in disbelief.

DON’T EVEN TRY DROPPING ELAINE’S NAME IN YOUR QUEST FOR WHAT YOU THINK IS A BETTER TABLE

“You get what you get. Any table you’re sitting at should be a good table and if you’re that insecure, no table is going to be right.” Diane adds, "Saying you know Elaine won't do anything for you."

DON’T COME IN WITH YOUR OWN BOTTLE OF WINE

“We tell them that we sell wine and food.”

DON’T SEND BACK A BOTTLE AND ASK FOR ANOTHER OF THE SAME

“We won’t do it. We tell them they won’t be happy, try something else.”

DON’T TAKE YOUR DRINK TO THE BATHROOM

Asked why this happens, Elaine responded, “Because they’re stupid.”

DON’T EVER PUT YOUR FEET ON THE CHAIR

“We’ll yell, “Take your feet off the chair.”

DO DRESS PROPERLY, NO SHORTS PLEASE

“There’s not much to do about it once they get in."

DO BE KIND TO THE STAFF

“One guy, a writer, used to be very rude. He changed his ways when he married, his wife would threaten to walk out.”

DO FEEL FREE TO ASK IF YOU CAN ORDER OFF THE MENU

“Doesn’t mean you’re going to get it.”

THINGS ELAINE CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT

Doggie bags - “They’re a given, it’s okay but I can’t believe that people would take such a small amount of food home and actually eat it.”

Sharing meals – “I don’t like it. It’s not like they can’t afford it.”

Yvette and I have been to Elaine’s a couple of times. It is impressive and as much as we covet a table along the wall, we know wherever we are, like Elaine said, “It’s a good table.”

*Elaine and Diane sent me away after the interview with a container of soup not surprisingly for a friend who's a filmmaker and not feeling well. "He's family," Diane said. "We take care of family."

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

SHRIMP CHASERS AND DOUBLE DIPPERS

In light of the holiday season, we have a question? What is it about shrimp that makes people go crazy? The next time you go to a cocktail party, watch what happens when a tray of shrimp comes through. There's nothing wrong with liking shrimp, but when you start running after it, there's something wrong with you. A well planned cocktail party has a plan. The caterer has received a head count and has figured out how many times each hors d'oeurve will be passed to each person. There should be enough for everyone, that's if some guests haven't taken the liberty of inviting people not officially invited by the hosts. So, just be patient and trust that you will be served. Never run after the food.

Never double dip. Dumplings are very popular and so is the sauce that's usually served with them. If it's a small, bite sized dumpling, one dip is enough. If it's a larger dumpling, you can dip one side and eat it. Turn it to the other side and dip again but never on the side you just ate from. The same goes for crudite and the sacred shrimp. Double dipping is sort of like a stranger taking a bite out of your food and putting in back on your plate.  And remember, few people arrive at a cocktail party and wash their hands before touching the food. 

Cocktail hour at weddings can be very misleading by the abundance of food.  The plates are small so it doesn't take much to pile them high with food. It's all right to return and get a fresh plate, especially if there are several stations. When dinner is announced simply leave the plate on a table. No need to walk into dinner with food.

Cheers!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TO B OR NOT TO BM

We'd like to talk about another sensitive subject that’s also a much-needed natural function - bowel movements

"If you gotta go, you gotta go." We've all heard that one many times. And it's true and you should but it could be uncomfortable if you're not comfortable. What to do if you’re visiting the home of a date for the first time? Do you hold on or just do it? And after you do it, what do you do?

We feel your pain. But we think that when nature calls you must answer. If you have an urgent need due to a bad tummy, just say so. "I feel awful, but I think I have to use your bathroom." He or she will understand. If there’s more than one bathroom maybe they’ll direct you to one where you’ll feel you have more privacy. No matter how beautiful or handsome you are, they will appreciate that you're human too.

So go. When you're finished, if there is room fragrance, use it. Make sure the toilet bowl is clean. Wash your hands thoroughly and come out smiling with relief. If your date has any manners, they will ask, "I hope you're feeling better." If they're really classy, they'll add, "I know how uncomfortable that can feel, are you all right?" Reassure them that you're fine, and move on. (smile)
Whatever you do, don't stay in the bathroom until all evidence has disappeared. You may be in for a long haul.

We are not dietitians but good eating habits can help you avoid these kinds of intrusions. Maybe you want to look into food combining for better digestion. We digress.

Don't make people wrong because they have to use your facilities for things you find unpleasant. Going to the bathroom isn't the worst thing they can do in your home.
And that's all we have to say on the subject.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

TRANSPORTATION CIVILITY UPDATE

This past Sunday. The New York Times dedicated an entire section to the challenges of traveling on our subway system.

In it, riders put their two dollars and twenty-five cents in. There were complaints about the subway door blocker, women finishing their toilette, the back packers, etc. There's just one problem, none of the above probably read a word of any of it.

If we wanted to, Yvette and I could blog every week about the lack of etiquette on trains and buses. They're fertile ground for poor, inconsiderate behavior. Yet there is the occasional show of civility. Yesterday, a man offered me a seat on The Times Square-Grand Central Shuttle. "He was a southerner," I pointed out to a colleague, as if being a southerner is a prerequisite for being a gentleman.

But this morning the harsh reality struck again, literally, as a woman's faux snake bag repeatedly hit a man in his stomach as she carried on a conversation with a woman whose Tory Burch was slamming another passenger in the gut. They didn't have a clue because for their own comfort they had relegated their bags to the spaces behind them.

When we're the receiver of someone else's baggage in our stomachs, we just say with a smile, "Excuse me, Miss, but could you move your bag around the other way?" Yvette didn't have such luck with a man with a backpack. When she asked him if he could remove it because the bus was so crowded, he suggested that maybe she needs to lose some weight. She weighs 103 pounds.

Our father is a retired bus driver. We don't like hearing people calling them names. "Asshole," a woman said to her husband. She was referring to the driver who wouldn't let them pay at the end of their ride. Their Metrocards were empty so they wanted to sit down and collect themselves and their monies and pay on their way out of the bus. There's a lot of nerve in transit.

Also, no need to roll your eyes at the bus driver when passengers are piling out of the front door and you're waiting in extreme heat, cold or pouring rains or sitting on the bus that's going nowhere fast. She/he or a recording more than likely advised everyone to exit through the back doors but there's something about getting off in the front even if you're sitting in the back that people prefer. It feels homier? Or maybe  nobody cares because they've arrived at their destination and too bad if you have to wait. (We are not talking about the physically challenged or overloaded mother.)

There is good news. People are asking kindly for cell phone talkers to lower their voices. That one man offered me a seat. A nanny put a toddler on her lap so an elderly person could sit. And a disheveled man said, "Good morning," to me as he scratched his feet. I smiled back. We're getting there.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Staring: The Good, the Bad and The Ugly


 “Yvette, don’t be surprised if people stare at you. They don’t mean anything,” I explained when she visited me for the first time in Milan, Italy.

I have to admit, it was weird. People wouldn’t even steal a look; they would just look you in the eyes and up and down.  My black friend with green eyes caught hell. She couldn’t eat in peace, take a walk in peace, it was nuts.  Italian friends would explain that people looked at me because I was different. “They’ve been seeing black models for years.  I know I'm not the first persona di colore they’ve seen,” I would argue. “Growing up, we were taught that staring isn’t nice.”  I wondered if that lesson is cultural, something we share in America.

I shouldn’t have been so annoyed. Yvette and I know that being twins, staring comes with the deal. And it’s not always a good deal. You can hear the comparisons piling up – which one has that, which one has this. Twins are studied like objects in museum.

Stares vary in nature. There are stares of curiosity. There are stares of admiration. There are stares that want to make you say, “May I help you?”  Women, young and old share the "She thinks she's cute," stare which is more like a stare down. And then, sorry guys, there are men who will stare and scare you. They know what they're doing.  Some even stare with the attitude, "I'm looking at you, and therefore you need to look back and me." You can give it back or turn your attention anywhere but to him. Study a piece of lint or the number of lights in a ceiling.
           
I’ve caught myself staring at a great outfit or a beautiful person and when I’m caught in the act, I pay a well-deserved compliment.
           
“Recently, I was at a party and felt eyes on me,” a cousin of ours recounted. “In fact, a woman I don't know well was staring as if she were ripping my clothes to shreds. When our eyes met, the woman looked quickly away.”  Did we mention that there are stares that throw daggers?
           
Children's stares come from innocence. They see something or someone different and they explore by staring. It's part of their learning experience.  But it's up to parents to explain why at a certain point staring isn't appropriate.

What do you do? Do you dare to stare?
           
           



Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Going Public on Personal Matters

Recently, walking in my neighborhood on New York's West Side, I (Yvette) saw and heard something very disturbing. A couple on a busy street was having a full-blown argument as if they were in the privacy of their home.  Their relationship's dirty laundry was flapping in the face of everyone passing by.  This is not what we call good community relations.

Yvonne can tell you about this. "I knew I was wrong," Yvonne admitted about an argument she had outdoors. She thought she was out of earshot. Instead, just like the 24-hour news cycle, bits and pieces of the argument were overheard and reported inaccurately.

In our 'gotta have it now' culture, Yvonne had to have her say right then and there. "It was a dumb situation that got dumber," Yvonne explained.

We wonder if there's a surge of public displays of dissatisfaction because we're used to holding conversations on our cell phones as we walk down the street. In one block you can hear dozens of snippets of conversations from the inane to profane. So, maybe it feels kind of natural to say what you have to say sans cell phone.

If you come across strangers in a heated argument, mind your business. If the argument escalates into violence, call 911 on your trusted cell phone. Don't hesitate; when people go public with their business, it becomes public business.

Adults yell at their children out in the open all the time forgetting what they've taught them about inside and outside voices. A woman was cursing out her three year old in a crowded station because he'd put his little hand in her pocket and she wanted to know why. "Because he loves you," Yvonne yelled out loud.

The woman, shocked,  proceeded to curse out Yvonne. Not wanting to end up on the evening news, Yvonne moved away from the woman.  Yvonne says, "She was verbally abusing the child and I just couldn't stand there and say nothing."

Remember, when it comes to parents and children, be careful how you get involved. How parents choose to reprimand their children is not for you to judge or critique. However, once it becomes physical, call for help or intervene as peacefully as you can. 

The next time you find yourself close to arguing in public, ask yourself, "Do I really want to have a People magazine moment at my ugliest?"


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Art Appreciation 101

Yvonne and I grew up with art in our lives, our mother painted, she even painted a mural on one of our walls, a zebra standing in grass, looking out into the living room, and of course it was a “hands off” wall.

The art season is in full swing; I spend at least two Saturdays a month in galleries all over New York City. I also visit on a regular basis our wonderful museums. It’s not easy looking at art these days with the digital world we live in. It doesn’t seem to be about the art anymore. It’s about getting picture of the art or posing next to the art instead of enjoying it through the naked eye. I seem to be jockeying space to view the art while avoiding being photographed by strangers. Never mind the distracting conversations between chatty visitors talking to each other or their cell phones.

A good friend of mine runs a gallery in New York’s Chelsea district. I asked him about some dos and don’ts concerning gallery hopping from his point of view, from taking a picture of a picture to talking to an artist about art.

“People don’t seem to view art anymore,” he said. “They seem to be more interested in recording the image.” He doesn’t mind visitors taking pictures but the polite thing to do is to ask someone at the gallery desk if it’s all right to take photographs. If you’re planning on using the image for business reasons you must let the gallery know, images will be provided upon request, I do it often because I have an art blog on my company’s site.

Interested in buying?  Feel free to inquire about the price, not all galleries have prices listed on the description sheets. You may ask for a price consideration (discount), but don't push beyond what's offered, it's not a bargaining point, coming across pushy is frowned upon. Never ask the artist the price of his work, ask his representatives, if he has one, that’s what they’re there for.

I enjoy visiting artists in their studios; however, this is only appropriate if a gallery does not represent the artist. Studio visits by private collectors are usually discouraged; my guess is some collectors may treat the visit as if they're going to a sample sale in a showroom or the gallery may feel there may be too much information shared on the artist’s process. Of course professionals such as curators are always allowed, the arrangements are made through the gallery.

Oops, something broke! Don’t assume you have no responsibility even though most galleries are insured. Ask immediately what you can do, which brings me back to touching walls. It’s great to expose children to the visual arts; they love the wide-open spaces and the bright colored paintings. They shouldn’t touch the work nor be allowed to run around as if they’re in a playground. Museums have programs for art appreciation for children; it’s a great place to start teaching children about art.

While Yvonne thinks a glass of wine goes well with a nice piece of art, I don’t believe alcohol and art are a good mix. Remember you’re not at a bar. My gallery friend recalled a story he'd heard about a person complaining that there was no wine. "Hey, I came down here for a glass of wine.”  He was directed to a bar down the street.  Enjoy the wine, just be careful.

Happy gallery hopping wherever you are.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

OBESITY AND MANNERS

Obesity affects  us all in some way or the other.   And just like in other areas of our lives, etiquette is mandatory.  And we all know how rude people can be when it comes to physical appearances.

“He broke the leg of an antique chair because of his weight and didn’t sit on it properly. Then he knocked a table over that sent a very expensive lamp crashing to the floor,” a friend recounted about a guest. What did he do?  “I just smiled and made a joke and asked, “What else are you considering for extinction?" His way of handling the situation was with humor.  Even his guest laughed.  Whatever you do, don't start sulking and talking about how valuable something was.  Maybe the chair was delicate to begin with and anyone could've caused the chair's leg to break.

Should a person offer to pay for a repair?   Our friend with the broken chair said he wouldn't ask. "If a person breaks a piece of furniture because of their weight, they should at least offer to pay for the repair," said an aunt of an overweight niece. "They should know better before sitting down." While we think an offer is thoughtful, a gracious host most likely wouldn't accept it.

If you think a piece of furniture can't handle but so much weight, you should show your guest to a seat where you’ll know they’ll be safe. But it cuts both ways, if you think that a chair may not be sturdy enough for your weight, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I think I’ll sit on the sofa, if you don’t mind.” Make your host feel comfortable by letting them know what makes you more comfortable.

“I have a friend who's obese and when she comes to town, I make sure I have a few restaurants for her to choose from where I’ll know she’ll be comfortable,” explained a New Yorker.  “I worry when we go to the movies, but so far, it hasn’t been a problem.  And I never say anything, the last thing I want to do is hurt her feelings.  That's not right.”

As far as conversation goes, we all have to learn to live in a world where slips of the tongue and poor choices of words happen and can be hurtful.  Be sensitive to who’s sitting at the table, don’t bring up Weight Watchers if there’s a person at the table who could use some weight watching.  If that person brings up the subject of weight you can listen but don't make it the hot topic of the evening. We find this kind of conversation on the dull side and it goes nowhere fast.  If something is said that can be misconstrued as a dig to a person's weight, let it go, no kicking under the table.  The reaction of the kicked could create an embarrassing mess.

Keep compliments honest and earnest. One of the most elegant men we know is a big guy. His social graces outweigh his weight. When people pay him a compliment on his impeccable appearance, there's never the tone of, "You sure can dress for a big man."

If you're having a dinner party, no need to go buy a whole side of a cow because you've decided, and most likely, wrongly, that one person is going to eat a huge quantity of food. Sure there should be enough, but as a host, it's more important for you to know if your guests have any food allergies or if there are foods they absolutely won't eat.  And don't take it upon yourself to put an overweight guest on a diet, cook as you usually do.  If you're known for your baking, don't become the food police and serve a fruit salad.

At the end of the day or dinner, when it comes to exhibiting manners with respect to obesity, we suggest that you aim to be the biggest in the room.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

MANNERS FOR SOCIAL NETWORKING

Yvette is not a fan of social networks. "I think it makes you ubiquitous. And all it takes is one slip, one piece of information that shouldn't have been made public, and it becomes a big problem."

I, on the other hand like Facebook and Twitter. They deliver a lot of readers to our blog and it's been great re-connecting with friends and former colleagues I hadn't heard from in a long time. I like the witty banter and sometimes engaging discussions - more on those later.

While I have a LinkedIn account, I'm rarely on the site; it hasn't been helpful to me. "Funny that you ask, I have a LinkedIn story," replied a friend when I asked about social networks. "I had a conversation with a guy who took it upon himself to reach out to a friend's contact. He should've notified his friend first. It's all about relationships. What if his friend and the contact weren't on good terms? He could've aggravated the situation." He continued, "It's like going to someone's door and saying, "I'm a friend of Paul's.  Mind if I come in?"

"Yvonne, please take that picture of me off your Facebook page," a friend emailed. The tone was firm but friendly. I took it off right away and learned a lesson - just because I thought it was a good picture doesn't mean she felt the same and it was her right to ask for it to be taken off. Thanks to her, I've learned to ask before posting. Most don't mind but some do. Amongst my friends there are some pretty good photographers. They clearly edit before posting and choose the best.

The world of social networking is still new and evolving everyday. We're making up our own rules as we go along. One could argue that once you sign up, you're fair game, maybe so but there's always room for consideration and common sense.

• Keep personal information and questions off walls and other public site areas. Everyone doesn't need to know the dates of your vacation and where you're going unless you want them to know. Beware, you could return to a furniture-free house.
• Respect your contacts' relationships, especially on professional sites. Ask before you seek help from their contacts. And if you haven’t been asked, don’t offer unsolicited criticism about a possible hire.
• Think before using a particular facebook app that lets you identify and post the whereabouts of a person without them even knowing. This is especially creepy and invasive.
• Let people know that you intend to post their pictures on your page, maybe they were supposed to be at work and not lounging on a beach in Bora Bora.
• If you want to post photos from a party, ask the host before you post. There may be hurt feelings for those who weren’t invited.
• If you're job or school hunting be very careful when it comes to voicing your opinion. Think twice about unflattering photos that seemed like a fun idea at the time. What goes on the internet is like a diamond - it lasts forever. You wouldn’t want to lose your Miss Universe crown.
• Be in agreement with your partner that it's all right if you post pictures of the two of you together. And that lovely couple you took a picture of and posted? Pray that one of them isn't married or otherwise involved with someone else.

So, how about it? Is social networking working for you?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

HOW TO SAY THANKS FOR NOTHING

Recently, a friend reached out to a very successful person in the restaurant business. Our friend explained that he didn’t have any experience but would be willing to learn and ticked off his strong points – good personality, great organizer, multitasker, etc. “I really didn’t want to ask this guy for anything because he’s really busy but I did it anyway. I was looking for a job.”

The restaurateur passed him off to his HR director. Two things happened that immediately made him realize nothing was going to happen. The HR person was too busy to meet him in person and she wanted to see his resume that had nothing to do with the business. And by the end of the conversation, she said it’s not up to her to do the hiring in most of their restaurants. We wonder how she got her job? “I could understand her wanting to see the resume but she didn’t know what to do with it in terms of thinking out of the box or even suggesting where she think I could be a good fit. And I expected some face time, since her boss was my connection.”

Sometimes our friends and family are well intentioned when they try to help us out. They’ll volunteer to show up early and help prepare for a party or pick up something for you or even help find you a job.

Instead, they’ll show up when the party is well on its way, have totally forgotten to pick up what they said they would and blow you off when you attempt to follow up on the job they said they’d help you get.

We say, as hard as it can be, take the high road, first, say ‘thank you’ even though you wanted to say something else and the next time they offer you anything, politely decline. Of course, if they forgot to pick up your child at school, the high road isn’t the way to go. This person can’t be trusted to pick up anything.

Our friend who thought he had a future in the restaurant business moved on and looked for work elsewhere. He emailed a simple thank you, no sugar coating or implication of never-ending gratefulness. He thought the best way to thank him for nothing was just to thank him.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

BED BUG ETIQUETTE

Remember, “Sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite?” It’s no secret; a lot of people aren’t sleeping tight because bed bugs are biting. Once blamed on the poor, bed bugs have become an equal opportunity annoyance of big proportion and expense.

This is not the time to be secretive, classist and dishonest. We have three close friends who’ve had bed bugs and we’re proud to say, they handled it honestly, i.e., beautifully despite the great expense, inconvenience and angst.

Here’s what you have to do:

• As soon as you’re sure that you have bed bugs, you must alert your building’s management office, coop and condo board and definitely your neighbors (One friend’s neighbors were miffed that he brought up such an unpleasant subject and made snide remarks as if they were his problem solely. He also learned that neighbors had had an ‘insect’ problem and brought in their own exterminator. Obviously not a good one, our friend went through two battles of the bugs.) Sometimes management will absorb some of the costs because they’re responsible especially when they’ve kept it a secret for fear of lowering property values or rental possibilities.

• This is not the time to be thrifty. It’s important to get a professional on the case; including the bed bug dog before and after treatment. Make sure he/she is the real thing.

• Alert people who have been recent guests. If you’ve been invited to someone’s house for a dinner or weekend, let him or her know. Be considerate and find a way to make them feel comfortable by declining the invitation before they have rescind it. You could say, “I don’t think it’s a good idea that I visit you at this time. When I’m sure the problem has been solved, I’ll let you know and we can reschedule.” Don’t make it their problem.

• Dry cleaning and hot air apparently kills the bugs, but you have to let your dry cleaner know, they may not want to handle infested clothing for fear of passing it on to other customers. When clothes do come back keep them in tightly closed plastic bags.

• A professional exterminator will provide a special steamer like canvas trunk for you to literally ‘cook’ your clothes and items such as briefcases.

• Refrain from giving friends vintage items if you’re not sure they were properly cleaned. If you’re a thrift shop shopper, carefully inspect all items before you leave the store and still whisk them off to a dry cleaner.

Do the right thing and the bed bugs won't bite. We hope.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

HAVE JOB, NO MANNERS

Maybe they’re too busy hanging onto their jobs. Maybe they don’t have the time (lame excuse). Maybe they just don’t have manners (good excuse). The employed don’t seem to be employing manners these days.

What should you do when you’ve called and/or emailed several times about a job without any response? You could send one more email explaining that you don’t want to become a pest and if they could let you know if the job isn’t available, you won’t bother them anymore. This seems to get some reaction because you have become a pest of sorts but nice enough to make it easy for them to let you know they won’t be employing you anytime soon.

“I didn’t like the air of dismissiveness during the whole process,” said one friend who is now happily employed. “I found, when I was looking, that there was a lack of compassion and civility.”

Then there are the rare ones. The employers who had no job to offer you but picked up the phone or emailed back and without giving false hope, they gave you something to hope for and showed you that there is compassion out there. Most likely they were in your position once upon a time.

So, if you’re fortunate to have a 9 to 5, take your manners with you, they come in handy 24/7, we hope not, but you may see what we mean one day.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WHEN GROOMING AND GREASING UP GOES PUBLIC


A funny thing happened on the way to an early morning appointment the other day, a woman on the bus took out her little makeup bag and pulled out her mascara and proceeded to lengthen and thicken right there in her seat. Then, she went digging into her bag and took out a brush and compact. A stop and half later her cheeks had some color to them but not after she used a germ laden hand to even out the application. And so it goes, yet another boundary has been torn down - running late and didn’t get to your make-up? Don’t worry about it, run out of the house and do it on the bus, train or even in your car at the first stop light. 
While putting on makeup isn’t as gross as flossing in public places, (we’ve seen that too, recently at a doctor’s office) it’s still gauche. A toilette should be done in the toilet (aka bathroom) or any other area of your choosing in your home.

Freshening up lipstick at a table or in public seems to be pretty common a friend noted, “But it’s still weird.”

For those of us who suffer from dry skin and can’t stand the sight of ashy hands it seems natural for many to lotion up in public. This is where Yvette and I don’t agree. Yvette doesn’t find it offensive, I don’t either but I do believe it has a tacky factor. I think it should be done discreetly, preferably in a restroom or behind a closed door. Not long ago, I was at the theater and a woman took out a medium sized bottle of lotion and after soothing her dry skin, she offered it to other women who gratefully accepted the bottle. It didn’t look right. What if their legs were ashy? Where does the creamfest stop?

When you see people eating in public and we’re not talking about street fairs and block parties we’re talking about tuna sandwiches on bus and train trips, also slices of pizza, smelly corn and cheese chips and even a gyro while standing on line in the post office, maybe a harried woman says to herself, “What’s a little bit of mascara amongst strangers?”

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

When A Contrarian Takes The Floor

Beware of the contrarian in the room. As soon as a conversation takes off, he or she will turn into the CONVERSATIONATOR and obliterate any spoken word with endless disagreements and contradictions. They’ll oppose when there’s nothing to oppose.

For example:

You: I wish it would stop raining.
The Conversationator: Be glad you woke up healthy this morning.

What? You make a comment about the weather and the next thing you’re being scolded for not being grateful that you woke up. This is all about control. To have it, the conversationator has to change the subject. Don’t try to figure it out, don’t go on the defensive and don’t bring up the rain again - just be happy you woke up healthy this morning and be quiet.

As much as you would like to avoid them, it’s not so easy. The fact is contrarians are in our lives in business or through close relationships.

One way to handle them is no matter what you’re discussing, make it about them and their opinion. They rarely disagree with themselves. As they go on and on, every now and then, throw in, “You’re right.” You can dare to open the discussion by asking, “I just want to make sure that I understand, you think that…” This may not the most intellectually stimulating conversation but at least it’ll be somewhat pleasant if not a little dull.

If you do get caught up in a heated discussion, end it by saying, “Well, I guess we’ve agreed to disagree.” This is usually a very effective way to shut down the conversationator.

Some contrarians can drive you nuts. Not, Yvette, she thinks they’re too much work and they should be avoided. I think they deserve a chance and should be confronted. They should be told how difficult it is to have a conversation. Tell them how much you care about them and would like to talk to them without always sparring. If they don’t get it, leave it alone and be glad you woke up healthy today.

*Please note, during the month of August we'll be running previous postings. Enjoy! We'll be back in the fall.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Chelsea’s Wedding: The Uninvited

We were surprised to learn that some people not invited to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding were miffed (we weren’t). One person who was under the illusion of being a good friend complained, “I’m good enough to borrow a plane from, but not good enough to be invited to the wedding.” We all know feeling slighted isn't an affliction of the rich and famous with private planes. “After all of those free tickets I gave to her, I’m not invited?” a friend of ours whined when she wasn’t invited to someone’s wedding. They weren't even plane tickets.

So this is how it goes? Someone does something for the mother or father of the bride or even the bride and because of that there’s the expectation of being invited to the wedding?

It goes like this – at a certain point there has to be a cutoff. And maybe the man with a plane wasn’t considered a friend but just a nice person who offered to do a favor; little did the Clintons know that they owed him one. That’s not how to win friends and influence and get invited to a wedding.

Maybe the best way to handle this situation when word of an impending wedding spreads is (One problem is that people make it too much about the wedding and not the marriage.) expect not to be invited for all kinds of valid reasons – budget, location, huge families, and a large chunk of the invitee list reserved for people who just have to be invited, remember The Godfather?

A couple of years ago we weren’t invited to a cousin’s wedding but our brother was. It was hurtful, but we got over it. There was never a confrontation, no bad blood and we’re still cousins who care about each other.

When you tally up the costs of being invited – a gift, outfits, transportation (no problem if you have your own plane) maybe it’s not the worse thing that could happen. You’ll get over it.


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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

THE SAGA OF SAGGING PANTS

Enough is enough. On Saturday, if you’re in New York, we will be doing our own march against sagging pants. Our march will begin at noon on the north side of 34th Street and 6th Avenue. Then, we’ll stroll up 8th to 42nd Street. We will most likely end up at the Harlem Book Fair on 135th Street.

It’s not style; it’s vile when you see a man walk down the street showing off his underwear. It’s not cute, it’s not right. Underwear is UNDER wear. It will never be a dress for success look. Those who chose to display this odd trend look funny and walk funny. Yet, nothing about it is funny.

We applaud State Senator’s Eric Adams for his effort to stop this ‘look’ with his billboard campaign – RAISE YOUR PANTS, RAISE YOUR IMAGE.

Restaurants that allow people to sit in their underwear should address the issue as they’ve addressed the issues of diners coming into restaurants with no shirts or shoes. The MTA should address the issue. And we should return to dressing, the right way – with respect for others and ourselves.

We hope to see you on Saturday.

Monday, July 12, 2010

DRESS FOR SUCCESS OR DRESS FOR A MESS?

We don’t mean to be the sob story sisters, but growing up there were difficult times. However, you’d never know it by the way we were dressed. Our clothes were clean and pressed, and our shoes were shined or polished. (Sneakers, tennis shoes were worn only in the gym and on weekends.) That’s the only way our mother would let us leave the house.

We’re grown up now and that’s still the way we leave the house. Not so with many people these days. Any old thing seems to go. Wrinkled shirts, pajama pants coordinated with t-shirts and of course, jeans, jeans everywhere and flip-flops too. They used to be footwear for a day at the beach -seems like now they’re worn everywhere but on the beach.

We understand an outfit that can take you from the office to a cocktail party but not the outfit that never stops giving all day and any day - from the laundry to the supermarket to the office, to parties, to nice restaurants and even to the opera. You’d think you’re in the middle of La Boheme.

It’s becoming more difficult to differentiate weekdays from weekends; it’s all rolled into one because people look as though they’ve rolled out of the bed, threw on something and out the door they go. Maybe casual everyday had its beginning with Casual Fridays.

“It’s a reflection of a general breakdown of society,” a friend pointed out. “How people dress is yet another example of a culture without boundaries.”

“A candidate showed up in a pair of jeans,” a director of human resources said. “I couldn’t believe it. He also arrived with his coffee in hand.” Dressing inappropriately professionally cuts both ways. Yvette was interviewed by an HR manager who sported a shirt that he must’ve snatched out of the dryer that morning and was clearly not a permanent press.

We’ve been upgraded on flights, no doubt because we showed up at the ticket counter dressed comfortably but well. We don’t understand fellow travelers who come to the airport dressed as though they just left the gym with their luggage.

Shoes should be shined. Slacks should be hemmed, shirts ironed and whatever happened to creases? We crave creases. Not sure about the dress code for an event? Call and ask.

What we’re talking about isn’t a question of style or designer labels, it’s about presentation and a show of self respect and respect for where you are and for others whether in the office or someone’s home.

The next time you leave your house, stop by the mirror and ask yourself, “Is this how I want the world to see me today and where will it get me?”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

TEXTING, TALKING AND BOPPING WHILE TRYING TO WALK THE WALK

As we all know, texting and talking while driving can be deadly. And now we’re beginning to see that texting,talking and listening to music while walking can sometimes be pretty severe.
Body slamming by techno zombies so engrossed in their devices seems to be commonplace these days. They’re oblivious to who’s behind them (you don’t want to be if you’re on an escalator) and who is walking toward them. Next thing you know, if you’re not swift enough, CRASH!


An acquaintance of ours learned his lesson the hard way. He was crossing the street while holding a conversation and didn’t see it coming – a car. Fortunately, the driver had slowed down and our friend ended up on his back on the road. He’s fully recuperated and now fully understands sometimes you just can’t do two things at once.

If you have to make the call or write the text, move yourself out of the flow of pedestrian traffic, it’s safer and considerate. And it keeps people out of your business. During the course of the day, we’re all privy to way too much information as people recount the latest in their lives on their cell phones.

And a word on music -just because it’s music to your ears, doesn’t mean it music to the person’s ears next to you. Music that's too loud sounds more like a band of tin cans. When that happens, you can either remove yourself from the listener’s area or get their attention and ask them nicely (They won’t hear you.) by mouthing, “Could you turn down the volume, please?” And then there are those music lovers who are so busy marching to the drummer in their ears, they walk at pace that’s out of step, creating another kind of collision.

We’re all for progress, but as we continue to walk into the future let’s avoid walking into each other.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

RESTAURANTS 101 – ARE YOU PASSING OR FAILING?

We’re always receiving tips from our followers. One popular post request is dos, don’t likes and dislikes about restaurants from all perspectives.

From London, a friend who often entertains in restaurants, points out that the person who’s treating gets to sit on the banquette.

A New York bartender says that if your meal or drinks are comped, tip as though you were charged full price.

A former bartender says he’s respectful of closing times. When he tended bar, people thought nothing of coming in near closing hour expecting service as if they had a couple of hours to hang out.

Cathy Treboux of New York’s Le Veau D’or wishes that diners would respect celebrities and not approach their tables for autographs or conversation.

Another restaurateur, Phil Suarez, would like people to stop using their high-falutin’ titles when reserving tables as if it’s going to help. He urges diners to stop double and triple booking, tip fairly and dress appropriately.

A couple, he’s an oenophile, believes that restaurants can do a better job with their wine lists – good wine at more reasonable prices.

And speaking of reasonable prices, one diner was furious when he recently received a huge check that included two glasses of wine at 16 dollars each. “All I’d asked for is a glass of Chardonnay. I should’ve been advised of the price.”

Joy from New York has two pet peeves when it comes to dining out. One is when the wait staff fills a glass to the rim with fancy bottled water and the second, is when a man blows or sneezes into his napkin.

Over pouring of wine to get you to buy the second bottle bothers another friend. And he also wonders why tables for two are usually so close to other tables for two?

Beth, a waitress gets the last word. “The worst thing a customer can do to me is snap their fingers to get my attention. “I am not a dog.”

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

PUPPY LOVERS, SHOW SOME LOVE

There’s nothing like walking out of your front door and stepping into a fresh puddle of pee compliments of one of your neighbor’s best friends. We guess the thinking here is that it’s not like Scooter left a pile of poop for you to slide in.

Growing up in Brooklyn, we used to sit on the stoop on warm summer nights. Our neighbors used to curb their dogs. Granted, at the time there were no scoop the poop laws but at least we could sit on the stoop in peace.

What’s up with puppy lovers? Some seem to have a hard time getting the bag of poop to a garbage can. One friend had to actually put a sign up on a tree in front of his house asking dog owners to stop throwing their poop bags in front of his house. Sanitation workers aren’t obliged, nor should they be, to pick them up.

When Yvette pointed out to a neighbor that she shouldn’t let her dog urinate in the flowerbed surrounding a tree, the neighbor replied, “He has a tumor. It’s not like he’s doing it all over the place.” We’re sorry for her pet’s illness but relieving himself in the flower patch is not the cure. And there is nothing more unpleasant when a dog leaves a trail of loose bowels on the street. It’s the duty of the owner to clean up the mess as best they can.

Respect your neighbor’s soles. Just because you’re going to pick up your dog’s poop doesn’t mean they can do it any old place. Dogs should be encouraged to do their business as close to the curb as possible in the city and in the suburbs where we understand neighbor’s think nothing of walking their dogs on someone else’s lawn. (They say the grass is always greener, this must be the case.)

Dog lovers, it’s time to own your pet’s poop and pee.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MANNERS OF CHILD SEATING ARRANGEMENTS

We see it all the time on buses and trains – children occupying a whole seat when they could’ve been sitting on a grown-up’s lap.
When offered a seat, the parent or caregiver shouldn’t give it to the child unless the adult is encumbered with a stroller. If not, the adult should take the seat and put the child on their lap.

Parents who let their children sit while grown-ups are standing are creating tomorrow’s poorly mannered teenagers who think nothing of sitting in seats reserved for the elderly and physically challenged. They tune out civility while they tune into their music. You can’t really blame them; they’re used to sitting while adults stand. The only thing many have outgrown is sitting with their feet on the seats.

Recently, Yvonne was on a crowded bus where a woman and her two children occupied three seats. The girls couldn’t have been more than five or six years old, small enough to share one seat. It had been a long day and Yvonne asked the mother could the girls sit together. The mother asked, “Why?” She then rolled her eyes and continued to eat her granola mix. (More about the crumbs later.)

But, all is not lost. There are those parents who say, “ Let’s get up so the lady can sit down.” Or, “Come on, sit on my lap so someone else can sit.” No doubt that’s a parent whose own parents taught them better. Nothing crummy there.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

YOUR GYM, IS IT SWEATING YOU?

We’ve never been loyal gym gals. Maybe because we’ve heard about how gross the pursuit of fitness can be. Chris, a friend of Yvette’s had suggested that we write a post about the lack of gym etiquette. We figured who’d better to interview than Chris, a gym loyalist with manners.

What are the most common inconsiderate things people do at the gym?

Monopolizing a piece of equipment or dumbbells. This is usually done by a pair of guys who, despite seeing each other every morning at the gym, chat on endlessly about any and everything. They've forgotten that they're there to work out, not to socialize. While they're "catching up", the 7 sets of dumbbells they've pulled off the rack to do supersets are completely useless to everyone else.


Also, yelling, groaning, screaming and singing. We’re not here to be inundated with a cacophony of sounds because ‘Jimmy Tone Deaf’ doesn’t realize how loud he is.

Anything else?

There’s always the guy who feels that the entire locker room is his personal bathroom. He leaves his dirty clothes on the bench when he goes to the shower, takes over the entire bathroom sink, and then refuses to consolidate his belongings as he's getting dressed. And, of course, he never puts his dirty wet towels in the bin - he just leaves them on the floor.

How are gyms handling keeping equipment clean and what should a member do to help? Obviously, wiping down equipment with a used towel isn’t the way to go.

Gyms ask people to wipe down the equipment when they're finished using it, but as you've guessed, wiping it down with a sweaty towel isn't exactly what they had in mind. I bring two towels with me when I workout - one for me and one for the equipment. That way, I'm not repolluting the equipment with my sweat when I try to make it clean for the next person.


If you could make the rules, what would they be?

The golden rule of "do unto others as you would have them to unto you" would probably be my only rule. Maybe spread posters around the gym - by the bench press, a sign would read "Would you want to use this bench if it were covered in someone else's sweat? Wipe off your equipment with a clean towel when you're finished, please." By a highly used piece of equipment, a sign would read "You were able to use this equipment today because the person that used it before you didn't hog it for an unnecessarily long time. Keep that in mind as you use this."

We thank Chris for his input and if you’re a gym regular we hope that your experience will be less rude and germy from now on.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

WHEN GIFTS COME WITH GAB

“I want you to know that I went out of my house twice in the same day looking for a gift for you,” said Yvette’s friend as she handed her the present responsible for ripping the woman away from the comforts of her home, not once but twice. Yvette thanked her and wondered if a gift was in order for her friend who had tried so hard.

Somehow giving a running commentary on a present you’re giving takes the ‘giftyness’ out of it. A good gift is thoughtful and may take time to find. But there’s no need to say that when you give the present. And there’s never a need to point out how someone is difficult to shop for, it’s not like you were asked for a present. The receiver shouldn’t feel that you’ve been put out because of them. Keep in mind, that’s your perception of them. You have decided that they are difficult.

Yvette dreads Secret Santas because she’s been accused of being too picky. “I’m accosted by co-workers asking strange questions about my bathing habits, what books I hate and do I eat sweets? It’s like a secret hunt.”

There will be those presents during all of our lifetimes that’ll evoke, “What were they thinking?” They were thinking of you and wanted to give you something nice, that’s all. And all you have to do is be as gracious as you can. You may never touch it or use it but if you decided to re-gift it, send it to the other side of the country.

For the person who has everything - and they shouldn’t be faulted for that - there’s always something you can do that's significant. You can donate to their favorite charity; give them an experience such as lunch at their favorite restaurant. Whatever you do, don’t scold them or make them feel wrong because you wanted to get something so right.

Give the gift and put a wrap on the gab.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WEDDING BELL BLUES: THE HALF-BAKED INVITATION

Wedding season is here again and so is the drama that surrounds it.

A friend of ours, we’ll call him Peter, was informed by his brother that two of Peter’s three children could come to his son’s wedding reception because they were over thirteen, the youngest, eleven years old, could not. “My brother called me two weeks before the invitations were sent out even though he knew about the age issue for several months. The invitation was addressed to four out of the five family members.” So what to do with the eleven year old? Peter decided to attend only the ceremony with his wife and children."

Peter and his brother have a sister. Her two daughters are in the wedding party but because of their ages, they too weren’t invited to the reception. “My sister had already bought the dresses for the girls, had she known sooner, she wouldn’t have gone through the expense of having her daughters in the wedding party.

“So, Dad,” asked Peter’s 16 year old, “the kids in the wedding are basically going there to work?”

Let’s digress for a moment. In Italy, and perhaps in other countries, some guests are invited only to the church and others are invited to both the ceremony and reception. Invitations are sent to both sets of guests and it’s perfectly acceptable.

Back to Peter’s situation, we’re in New Jersey at a country club and we don’t have to do as the Romans do, we couldn’t because the ceremony, cocktail hour and reception are all in one place. You can go in that room, but don’t come in this room or you just have to go home.

After some back and forth discussions, an invitation was extended to Peter and his family to stay at least for the cocktail hour. While the gesture was appreciated, Peter figured that since the ceremony starts at five, he’d rather leave, drive back to Connecticut and have a nice dinner at home. (We hope the kids under thirteen in this family won’t develop inferiority complexes or fear of wedding invitations.)

We think Peter is doing the right thing by going to the ceremony and his decision to skip cocktail hour is sensible thinking.
We wished his brother had told his siblings sooner about the age limit.
We think Peter’s sister’s daughters should be invited to the entire wedding. (If not, what a waste of their pretty little dresses.)
We understand the expense of weddings but we understand the importance of family, it’s priceless.

Maybe his brother should have listened to Sinatra when he sang, ‘All or Nothing At All’.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jason Shelowitz - Give Him An 'A' On The Train



Jason Shelowitz (aka JayShells) is not just another cool hipster living in Williamsburg. These days, he’s an action hero taking on the rude behavior of New York’s subway riders. His guerrilla ten poster campaign takes rude New Yorkers to task covering littering, hygiene, seating, staircase etiquette, loud music, preaching and physical contact. Two posters are pictured above. With his graphic skills and nerve, he’s the talk of the town.

To us, he’s a fellow etiquette activist. Like him, it’s not above us to take action and point out to people on the spot when they're breaking laws of etiquette and we share some of the same pet peeves such as clipping nails in public. (See our post, Clip Notes, The Nasty Ones, March 18th.)

His campaign has gained global attention and he’s very busy but was courteous enough (Of course!) to answer a few questions.

Q: Is the subway etiquette campaign the first of its kind that you've done?

A: Yes, I haven't done anything quite like this before.

Q: Are you a stickler for etiquette?

A: I guess I am. Mostly when other people are forced to deal with others in confined spaces (subways, buses, elevators etc.). Because in these instances, we have nowhere to go and are forced to deal with other people behavior.

Q: Have you, as we are known to do, ever approached someone while they were doing the rude things people do?

A: Oh yeah. Just two weeks ago I had a little confrontation with a religious radical on the F train. She was screaming her head off at everyone about how we were going to all burn in hell. So I gave it back to her pretty severely. Can't remember exactly what I said, but I basically cut her off every time she tried to yell at us. I remember asking her if she thought it was fair that we were being forced to listen to her, and asking her if she thought her God would approve of her bantering and threatening all of us. I got a round of applause and moved to the next car at the next stop. I also said something last summer to a person who had (no shit) a plastic bag of crabs in his hand. He was sucking meat out of the crabs and throwing the shells on the floor. Can you believe that shit? I say something when the opportunity seems right, other times, I just change cars. You never know who's gonna pull out a weapon, you know?

Q: What was the defining moment that motivated you to create the campaign?

A: The defining moment was the moment I got access to a silkscreen studio and could begin making posters. There was no particular event on the train that pushed me over the edge, just years and years of nastiness.

Q: Has the MTA contacted you?

A: No they have not, despite what you might have read.

Q: Have you received suggestions for other posters? (We have some.)

A: More than I can keep track of. For these people I will just say to be patient. We are working on a site where people can type in their own messages onto my template and download a PDF to do with it whatever they like. Also, the message they input will go to an online gallery for other people to view / download.

Q: Do you find subway people ruder than bus people?

A: Oh, yeah. But there are bus perpetrators too (as I'm sure you know)

Q: Were you in danger of being arrested?

A: This is not an offense that warrants an arrest, there’s a $25 fine. I am still putting some posters up, so I guess I can still get caught. I'll be done by Wednesday, April 28. Have to hit the 7 train because I've had so many people contact me about that train specifically. So I'll hit two of them, one heading to Queens, and one coming back to the city.

Two of the posters will be in an upcoming F.I.T. show in Williamsburg; it's a subway related art exhibit. Also, because so many people have contacted me about it, I'll put about 10 of each poster on my Etsy page for people to purchase. I love the irony. People want to pay for something that I have put up in the public domain for free. Hey, I've got bills to pay so why not right? Plus, a lot of the people who have asked for them live in other cities. That's why this campaign has taken off and gone global so quick; because it applies to any major city with public transportation.

Jason says our site is fantastic, we think his campaign is pretty fantastic.
It’s a mutual admiration society thing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

TURN OFF YOUR GAYDAR DAY, 2010

We’re trying to make it a national day of observance wherein all of us, gay or straight not focus on other peoples’ sexual preferences. It gets you nowhere fast unless you are romantically interested in that person and don’t want to ask directly (and you still may not get the answer you’re looking for). The thing is, people who are not even interested in pursuing a romance with the person in question are often the most curious.

We find the question a big bore, rude and sometimes dangerous especially in the hands of those who have certain political views and worse - power. Yvonne will never forget the day while discussing someone with a magazine editor; he informed her with great authority that this person was gay.

“Really?” she responded, “He was pretty straight when I was going with him." The embarrassment on his face told her that there was no chance of her ever getting an assignment from him.

Let’s turn the dinner tables. How would you like it if questions about your sexual proclivities were the topic of conversation? Wait a minute; we hear a song, “Ain’t Nobody’s Business”. Inquiring minds should stick to their food and table manners instead.

So, what to do if someone asks you if a man or woman is gay? You could simply say you don’t know. Don’t try and figure it out with them by exploring gaydar clues. Some think a dead give away is a guy who knows how to make gravy and arrange furniture or a woman who’s never seen with a man.

If you do know and don’t care to share someone’s personal business, you could say, “I don’t ask those kinds of questions and I don’t answer those kinds of personal questions.”

Or you could say, “Funny that you ask, someone asked the same thing about you and I told them I really don’t know.”

That ought to get them back to eating their vegetables.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

KEEP YOUR CHILDREN TO YOURSELF

We love children. We were once children. But back in the day, children had their place and it wasn’t walking all over seats on buses, trains or furniture. You crawled, hung out in your play pen (Do they still make those?) or sat on your parents’ laps. And you certainly didn’t have the privilege of sitting in a seat while a grownup stood. Caregivers or nannies (Whatever happened to The Babysitter?) - the title seems to change according to the neighborhood - when offered a seat will let the little one sit down instead of putting the kid on her lap. No wonder so many teenagers and adults won’t give their seats up to elders – they’re confused, they’ve been sitting ever since they were children, it’s their right. Why grownups used get up so they could sit, even their caregivers would stand while they sat!

Vestibules and hallways have been turned into mudrooms – tiny boots and high tech strollers are stationed sometimes in front of fire doors. Parents must think that fires happen to other people, not where they and their children live.

One morning, on a bus, a child was playing ‘dip mommy’s Metro card into the fare collector machine’. The bus driver told the woman that the reason people were on the express bus was to get to their destinations sooner and her child was slowing down the ride. The mother glared back at her with an expression that yelled, “How dare you not let my child have an impromptu play date with the fare machine!”

Recently, there was a brilliant piece in the New York Times. It was a Complaint Box essay about loud talking parents teaching their children right from wrong and other important life lessons that everyone in the area had to hear. We know that there’s such a thing as an outside voice but in this case it’s more like ‘outsized voice’. When people become parents and we know it’s not easy, is it a given that etiquette is put on hold until their children reach puberty?

We’re sounding kind of cranky today. Maybe we’re sleepy. That’s the excuse our parents used to give when we weren’t being very nice. Nap time.

video

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

WENDY WILLIAMS: A SHOW OF MANNERS

We recently were invited to be audience members on the Wendy Williams Show. Wendy is a down-to-earth, smart and funny woman who has made a seamless transition from radio to television.

We were led into a VIP waiting section and as we walked through the main waiting room, we noticed everyone was camera ready and waited patiently. In the VIP room we could’ve helped ourselves to the doughnut holes and coffee but we were already hyped up.

Before show time there’s a warm up with driving music that’s makes it hard for you to sit still in your seat, in fact, many can’t. They make their way to the stage and dance as if they were in a club somewhere in the middle of the night, not nine o’clock in the morning.

The show’s staff, from security to coordinators to the producer was good natured and helpful. As harried as the seating person was, she directed us to our seats calmly and courteously. And even when the cameras weren’t rolling, Wendy kept on chatting and joking with the audience as the producer counted down 3, 2, 1, to going ‘live”.

We had a great time and it was even more exciting because we were “discovered” by Wendy. She spoke to us on camera when she noticed we were identical twins.

Here’s what we learned about how to be stellar studio participants:

Do look your best; you want to be ready for your close-up. (We left our respective apartments around 7:30am dressed to the nines.)

Do go to the restroom before entering the studio, it’ll be awhile before you get a second chance and only five are invited, don’t be shy.

Do not take the opportunity to present your goals and aspirations to Wendy if she chooses to ask you, “How you doin? ” which is her trademark phrase. (This isn’t THE RESUME SHOW!)

Do clap with enthusiasm; it looks better on TV than a bored, not-too-interested clap. Watch the producers—they will tell you when to sit or stand.

Don’t make faces or try to steal the show as one guest did as he began voguing when he realized he was on camera and Wendy was in the shot.

Don’t fumble with your jewelry or hair and better not pick your nose even if you think the cameras aren’t rolling. This is not how you want to embark on your 15 minutes of fame. Remember to show your pearly whites and expressions that demonstrate that you’re engaged with what Wendy or her guests are talking about. (Cameras are always panning the audience.)

Do plan to stay for the duration of the taping. After the live show is over, the star and her crew tape promos.

At the end of the show we realized that even though we had VIP tickets – everyone is treated like and feels like a VIP on Wendy’s show. Guess that’s what happens when folks mind their manners – behind the cameras, on the stage and in the audience.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

CLIP NOTES, THE NASTY ONES

Yvonne asked me, “What did he look like?”
“He was well dressed, suit, tie, good looking guy, he looked like a business man.”

We were trying to make sense out of what I’d seen on the train that morning – a man clipping his nails. The sound of the clippers alone was driving me crazy. What he did next was even more disgusting. He let the clippings fall onto his lap. When he finished, he brushed them onto the floor and put his clippers away.”

I couldn’t help myself. I got up from my seat, walked over to him and said, “What you just did is incredibly rude.”

“That’s your opinion,” he answered coolly.

We covered grooming in public in a past post and left out nail clipping so we’re thankful for the dapper clipper for the reminder.

I wonder if he retold the story about someone telling him how rude he was to clip his nails in public and grace the train’s floor with his clippings. I can hear him now calling me everything but ‘lady’ or ‘woman’.

We don’t suggest going up to people with sharp objects in their hand and pointing out their poor manners. But I felt confident that I wasn’t going to end up on the evening news cycle as a stabbing victim thanks to that little file that's connected to the clipper.

Maybe nodding in disdain and changing seats is the better way to go when you see poor behavior. But that’s just our opinion.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

THE JOB OF LEAVING A JOB

It doesn’t seem like most people are leaving jobs on their own volition these days but if you’re one of the two lucky people in today’s job market who actually found another job, careful how you leave.

No need to gloat, especially if you know that most of your soon to be former colleagues are miserable. Telling them that their turn is coming up may not be the best thing to say to them because you don’t know what that turn will be. Instead, thank them graciously for wishing you well and point out that they as well as you are fortunate to have steady work.

The temptation to start slacking off is tremendous – strolling in late morning, taking an extra two hours for lunch and leaving early – wait to do this in between the old and new job. While you didn’t need the present employer for a reference, you may be calling on him/her in the future. You wouldn’t want them to remember your lame ducking days or the shopping spree you went on in the supply closet.

Handwritten notes to people you like and including your boss (even if you didn’t like him/her) go a long way. It shows people that you cared enough to take the time to say something kind to them with a personal touch. Avoid those sappy mass emails that go on and on. They can seem self -serving especially if you think big brother is watching and you want him to know how gracious you can be even if you’re deliriously happy to be leaving.

To some, exit interviews are a waste of time. But you can turn yours around to be positive and a help to the co-workers you’re leaving behind. Don’t turn it into a bitterfest or a lecture on how the company could be better.

To those of you caught up in the sea of layoffs, a huge job awaits you. We suggest that you mind your manners like never before and introduce yourself to grace.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

THE CURSE OF CURSING IN PUBLIC

If you buy into the phrase, “curses like a sailor”, there are a lot of sailors out of uniform amongst us, no matter where you live. We can safely assume that we have all used some of ‘those’ words, and will continue to use them when they serve us. We use them as exclamation points, expressions of disbelief, pain and anger or just because a cuss word seemed right at the time. Let’s examine the time.

What you say or do in your home is your business. Even when you have company, you own your words in your home, if someone doesn’t like your style of language they don’t have to accept your invitation. But understand if the invitation isn't reciprocated. We know a couple who don't tolerate any use of profanity in their home even if you're good friend.

It’s not uncommon on New York City trains and buses to hear young and not so young people lace their conversations with profanity. “Some respect, please?” Yvonne softly asked a young man who thought his vulgar story about a buddy of his was so entertaining he told it twice to his grinning friends (one was a young woman). “I’m sorry,” he said. His friends looked embarrassed for him and he was. We don’t suggest that you try this with most strangers but Yvonne felt safe in approaching him because the guy didn’t look crazy and he and his friends were well dressed. His apology was earnest. Maybe as a child he’d heard an adult use the same profanity in public and thought it was all right. Maybe cursing was the standard in his home. James Baldwin did say when you open your mouth, the way you speak will tell everything about you (he was referring to how the British can figure you out just by how you speak).

We don’t buy into the double standard that it’s worse when a woman curses. A woman calling another woman out of her name is just as bad as a man doing the same. And if you don’t like your newly appointed name, just simply re-introduce yourself without anger. They’ll get the hint, no need to fuel the fire because oftentimes they has been fueled with alcohol. Ever had a soft drink or cup of coffee with someone and they start cursing you out?

Once a year, we have Fleet Week in New York; sailors are all over the town. They seem to be having a good time and as far as we can hear and tell, they’re not cursing like sailors at least not as much as those ‘other’ sailors.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

THE SWEETEST DAY FOR HAITI

On Valentine's Day, expectations run high, so do the prices of roses, dinner and baubles. Last year, we wrote a post of dos and don'ts for Valentine's Day. In light of what's happened in Haiti, we thought it would be trite to discuss the etiquette of Valentine's Day.

We told you about The Sweetest Day, a special day celebrated in Ohio that's not just about bon-bons. Instead of the usual gifts, cards and meals, Ohioans choose this day to do something for less fortunate people. Their lack of fortune has nothing to do with their romantic status. It has everything to do with the fact that many have little to nothing.

It would be inappropriate for us to pressure you into giving for any cause but we have a suggestion - this year, how about we give the many Haitians in distress The Sweetest Day. How's that for a show of love?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

THE 2009 RUDEY AWARDS

It seems to be no surprise that Kanye West was most frequently nominated for our first annual Rudey Awards. In fact, so many of our followers mentioned him, we have decided to give him the distinctive, Rudey Hall of Shame award. This suggestion comes from a fan and follower of ours in Chicago. We don’t think Mr. West will lose any sleep over this - that would be way too gentlemanly.


Our good friend, Nancy Miller, nominated the following:

Sarah Palin for creating a public nuisance

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab for smoking in public

Rush Limbaugh for air pollution

Donald Trump for hair pollution

Rudy Guiliani just for having a name that sounds like Rudey


Our friend, Bruce Hopman of the site Parody & Sons weighed in with his nominations:

Best Show Acceptance Speech by a non-award winner: Kanye West

Best Impression of a six year old: Senator Joe Wilson


From a certain popular Washington journalist:

“Hello, Michael Steele?”

From author-journalist Stephen Silverman:

Supreme Court Justice Alito for nodding his head and moving his mouth during President Obama’s State of the Union speech

And, hello, Michael Steele

We also would like to give Rudey Special Mention Awards to:

Persistent Double Dippers

Dog owners with excessively long leashes

Parents who think the dirt on their children’s soles don’t soil furniture

Adults who think the dirt on their soles don’t soil furniture (in homes and restaurants)

People who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom and go digging into the nut bowl

Phone calls and emails of no returns especially from potential employers

“Walk faster old man!” Younger drivers who think they’ll never get old

And finally, employers who upon firing employees will actually suggest that it’s a good thing (see Up In The Air, recent unemployment and foreclosure figures)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

POSTER GIRL FOR BAD BEHAVIOR

When we first heard about, YaVaughnie Wilkins, the jilted lover of a very rich man and her poster project, it seemed like a story straight out of a tabloid. Instead, her love story was straight out of a tabloid. We felt her pain upon learning that the man she thought was hers for keeps was going back to his wife for keeps. We’ll never know the nitty-gritty - with or without it all of our lives will go on. And we hope she will too.

Recently, we watched an interesting documentary about the flamboyant congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Apparently when he and his wife, the fabulous jazz pianist Hazel Scott divorced, people tried to get her to talk about him and their marriage. She said something very poignant, “My mother taught me that some things should stay in your room.”

Ms. Wilkins, who probably has many rooms to have afforded such a campaign, didn’t watch this documentary. Maybe the posters had already been printed or maybe she had already been dumped. We may have felt her pain but we’re not feeling her foray into the public relations business either. Yo, YaVaughnie, can you spell dignity?

We think of the good she could’ve done with the money spent. She took a very low road to high places, major billboards up in the sky for all to see. If she has any money left, we suggest she send it to Haiti. In fact, maybe she should go to Haiti and see for herself something to be really brokenhearted about.

All is not lost; it’s never too late to start minding your manners. But for now, we suggest she go to her room, regroup and come out with all the grace and dignity she can muster. We're rooting for her.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

HAITIANS UNDER FIRE AND GRACE

There's been a lot of talk about the spirit of the Haitian people. It is strong and determined, we've seen it at work day in and day out ever since this horrific natural disaster.

The other day, we saw something quite wonderful on a news report. A line of Haitian children had been waiting for hours in the blistering sun for a bottle of water. As they were each handed one, not only were there smiles of gratitude but each and every child said, "Thank you," the newscaster reported. They were sweet, gracious and deserving of so much more than just a bottle of water. But, they wrapped their small hands around the bottle with their heads held up high - their eyes were bright and hopeful.

As many of us are already doing as much as we can, lets remember the brightness of those children's eyes and their gracious spirits, as we continue to do as much as we can for the people of Haiti.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

ETIQUETTE FOR THE NEXT DECADE: OUR WISHES


Yvette’s


That people will stop putting their feet on furniture that doesn't belong to them
(including public transportation, the office, at the theater and other public meeting spaces).

That young people will stop calling older people sweetie or any other term of endearment

That people will go back to saying you're welcome, instead of no problem or no worries

The stroller brigade will learn to make room for pedestrians at the curb and on the sidewalk and not shoot dirty looks as if you didn’t seek permission from them.

That people will drive sober, with respect and not tweet, text or chat on the
phone while driving, more than minding your manners, this is about minding one’s life

That inside and outside voices will disappear and there will be one voice, for children and adults

That people will stop checking messages at the movies, theatre or any other public space that can cause a distraction to others

That people will not chew gum in public, so that they don’t look like cows, (that’s what our teachers use to say)

That the use of profanity in public is punishable by a fine

That guys stop showing us their underwear, and girls stop showing off their thongs, both need to pull up their pants

Yvonne’s

That people will use my beautiful linen guest towels instead of my beautiful personal towels

That parents will not let their kids walk all over seats in public places (I’m miserable when I wear my white coat, have to stand)

That people wouldn’t answer their phone if they’re already on another call or cut off a conversation for another call as if they’re PR flacks

That men will be more gentlemanly and give a lady a seat at a bar, oh and on buses and trains

That people will stop telling us how much Yvette and I look alike again and again

That women stop jabbing their handbags into the chests and stomachs of others, the same goes for backpacks

That double dippers stop double dipping

That grown-ups stop holding their forks and knives the way they did when they were 8 years old

That buttiquette becomes an acceptable code of behavior

That people will find more interesting ways to start a conversation other than ask, “What do you do?” (due to high unemployment, it’s almost rude)