Wednesday, September 29, 2010


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


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


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


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.