Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013


            I recently had the privilege of being turned away from your restaurant in its new location. I have fond memories of the old location, small and cozy and delicious. Apparently, I’ve lost some of my fabulousness.
           I had just enough time for a glass of champagne before a reception nearby on Madison. It was 6pm, one person was at the bar, the owner, Philippe Delgrange and another person occupied one table facing the entrance.
            The first challenge was the door. I struggled to open it and was helped by the hostess. She opened the door, barely, as if  she were hiding something.
“Hi, I’d like to have a glass of champagne. I have a half hour before an appointment.” (I figured mentioning my drink of choice would let her know I’m not some barfly.)
            “We don’t really do that here, you can have a drink at the bar only if you have a reservation,” she explained.  I guess that’s fair but there were empty tables, (Beautiful People don’t eat at six.)  It seems like I could’ve been seated at a table for two for 20 minutes.  She explained the other way I could sit at the bar is if the owner says it’s okay. I saw him, Philippe, I don’t know if he saw me but the last thing I was going to do is beg to spend my money.
            “So, you’re not going to let me in?” I asked incredulously. “I’m sorry about this,” I added. Not being let in an establishment touches a highly sensitive chord in me. As the writer, Zora Neale Hurston said, “How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company?”
            “Me, too,” she said feigning remorse. “The policy sucks but it’s not mine.”
            You have the right to curate your patrons. But there has to be a way to do that with style and class. A show of politeness is a good place to begin.           
It all worked out. I went across the street, was warmly greeted at Philippe Chow where I ran into a friend. I had a good chat, a good glass of champagne and enjoyed the rest of the evening. So, thank you, you helped make every place I went that night more special.

                                                               All the best to you,

                                                               Yvonne Durant

Friday, November 29, 2013



            A neighbor of mine now prefers drinking Shirley Temples. I like a dry Shirley Temple myself every now and then. It’s very refreshing and it’s booze free. (Click on link)
My neighbor switched to Shirley Temples for health reasons. Of course, some can’t take this for an answer so they begin to dig for information. They think there has to be something other than her health behind this switch. She finds it annoying. It is, imagine someone giving you the third degree when all you want is to enjoy your beverage of choice in peace.
             So get on the good ship and stop asking so many unnecessary questions.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Petitetiquette: Salt and Pepper

Salt and pepper should be passed as husband and wife and not in the air. Please don't use a fork as the filmmaker did.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


There is a very nice man in a wheelchair usually on Madison near 59th. He greets people with the biggest smile, he gets to know you, “How’s your sister?”  He sells papers and there’s a cup in his lap.  We’ve spoken for years and I’ve never put a dime in it. I prefer to have a conversation and buy a paper. I know he does too.
            “Hey, golden girls,” a guy sitting on a sidewalk yelled at my friends and me one afternoon. “Y’all look good for your age.” He had decided that we were looking good for our ages that he did not know.  It didn’t matter that he looked horrible.  He was rude and he knew it as he tried to walk back from his comment. We agreed he needed to sharpen his game if he wanted a full cup. Not everyone in need is like that.
            Sometimes giving is organic and before you know it you’re digging for coins. Don’t just throw it into the cup and keep on walking. Make eye contact and acknowledge their gratefulness. Most express thankfulness more than those who don’t need a dime. Give unconditionally, no need to tell them how you think they should spend it. And whatever you do, don’t give out of pity, to do that is to look down on someone.  I’ve seen people send their children over to give, personally, something about that bothers me. I think it’s grown up’s work or at least someone of an age who understands the act of giving.
            There are a whole lot of people asking these days for what you have. If you choose to give, think about how you would like to receive from a perfect stranger.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013


In light of what happened at hyper-chic Barney’s, maybe it’s time for some race related etiquette tips.

Robert Indiana


1.     If you think you’re being followed in a store by security, don’t confront just ask to speak to a floor manager, no need to get ugly because security is acting ugly.
2.     If you work in a store and see someone that doesn’t fit the stereotype of the typical customer, no need to buzz for security. Do your job and ask if you can help, nicely.  You could win yourself a loyal customer.
3.     If you sit down at a banquette in a restaurant and the woman next to you snatches her bag abruptly, you can either facetiously snatch yours or take a deep breath and a sip of something (much more pleasant).  If you’re the snatcher, before you act, consider how this can make someone feel especially if his or her hand isn’t in your purse in the first place.
4.     As you rant and rave about white people, consider that some of your friends have a white parent whom they love dearly, respect the black parent too.
5.     If you find yourself being constantly asked how do you know the host of the party.  (This usually happens  when you're the only person of color in the room.) You can answer honestly or say, “Honestly, it’s been so long, I don’t remember.”
6.     Do not speak for millions of people no matter what color you are or what religion you practice.  I was once asked why there are some many unwed black mothers, I wondered out loud about so many Hollywood unwed mothers and pointed out that I’m not a sociologist.
7.     If someone goes out of his or her way to talk about their best white or black friend, there is an ‘ugh’ factor but don’t get mad, get glad that this person may be culturally enlightened.

The poor etiquette directed at us or practiced by us is deeply embedded in history. Race isn’t going away. But we can send racism on its way with relentless acts of civility.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


 *Petitetiquette will be a series the little social things and practices we do (or don’t) and wonder (or not) why they matter.

I fancy myself a sophisticate whenever I raise my glass in a toast and know that it's proper to meet the eyes of everyone else with a glass in the air. I make it a point to look straight into their eyes with a slight nod, and a polite smile. When that ritual isn't returned by someone, I write them off (not completely) as having a lack of sophistication, they don't know better.

Guess what? While it’s nice to acknowledge someone with eye contact as you clink glasses, this practice has nothing to do with etiquette. It has everything to do with sex; not looking into someone’s eyes can gain you seven years of bad sex! 

It’s up to you! Cheers!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


            “Lady, are you still on the phone?” My host asked,  feigning annoyance. I figured I was poolside, she was picking in her vegetable garden, so I might as well pick up my phone and call a few friends. She kept picking and I kept talking and didn’t even notice that she was now weeding a garden near the pool.
            I was being rude.  Instead of taking a dip, I took a dive into one of the most popular, tacky activities a houseguest can do - making and receiving calls all weekend long.  Your friend’s home isn’t really your home away from home. When they say make yourself at home, they’re not saying, “Make calls all weekend at your convenience, don’t mind us. Wave when you’re hungry.”
            Left to our devices we’re ruining our quality time and disrespecting others in their own homes.  It’s not like I was making deals at the pool with my agent that couldn’t wait. I don’t have an agent. (I’m looking.)
 If you have pressing business maybe you should opt for another weekend, make your calls in the comfort of your own home.  But if you’re a guest of really rich people, you’ll probably have your own little house, in that case, it’s just you and making a call here and there in between meals or activities is fine. No need to carry your phone as if it’s an evening clutch to the big house.
            How sad are we that our closest companion is our cell phone? We hold it more than we hold the hands of loved ones. 
            Have plans to go away this weekend?  Go, take it easy and take it easy on your phone. It’s getting tired.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


            It was a long time ago. I had a good friend and neighbor who went on a whirlwind of a trip alone. His girlfriend had small children and couldn’t accompany him. He called me when he returned three weeks later and said, “Come on out to dinner with us.” So, he, his girlfriend and I went off to his favorite Chinese restaurant.
           “You went to dinner with them? A girlfriend and also a neighbor asked.
            “What’s wrong with that?  I like his girlfriend.”
            She gently scolded me on the rules of hanging out with couples. “He hadn’t seen her in three weeks, did it occur to you that she wanted some time with him alone?'
            I was clueless. She explained that men don’t think about things like that and I should’ve been more sensitive.
            Just the other night the husband of a friend of mine invited me to join them for dinner. He’s a generous man and they both enjoy my company, but I declined. I’d realized he’s been away at their summer home and was just back. I was proud of my sensitivity even though she wouldn’t have minded but I did.

Third Wheel Dos & Don’ts

  1. Know that men mean well and think the more the merrier especially if they love crowds. Ask if their partner knows you’ve been invited.
  2. Respect relationships as you would want yours to be respected. Couple time is precious time.
  3. It cuts both ways; ask your partner do they mind if you invite someone along?
  4. Return the invite; include them in your plans when you’re with your boyfriend or girlfriend.
  5. And try not to go down memory lane that excludes the partner you don’t know well and he/she becomes the third wheel when in fact you were.



Sunday, September 8, 2013


            One breezy summer evening we were headed out to a party. Happy to find a taxi, we slipped in and shut the door. So far, nothing unusual to report, right?  When we went to shut the door our hand sunk into a wad of tissue. Maybe it had been used to wipe a brow.  Maybe someone blew their nose and thought that the designer of the car’s interior was so detailed oriented that he/she thought about what could they do for a passenger to make their ride more enjoyable and pleasant without a dirty tissue to think about. We don’t think so.
            And while we’re on the subject of what to do with used tissues and napkins, when at cocktail party, wrap your used cocktail napkin into a fresh one instead of handing the bartender a balled up mess of moisture. Or, if you’re thinking green, you can even find a receptacle, throw it away yourself and save on paper.
            It’s easy to know the right thing to do, put yourself in the place of the person doing the serving or cleaning and think about what you’d like to handle or be handed. It’s snot what you think.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


No matter where you’re taking your vacation, unless you’ve opted for a staycation, you’ll be traveling by car, rail, air or boat, in each case there are rules and considerations. Here’s our tip sheet.

If you’re traveling in someone else’s car...

• You shouldn’t have more luggage than the driver unless there’s been an agreement upfront.
• Offer to help, whether it’s contributing to gas, or offering to pay for a meal if there’s a stop along the way.
• Keep the driver company, especially if you’re traveling by night. If you sense that they don’t want to do a lot of talking, keep the chat to the minimum.
• If you have a weak bladder, let the driver know as soon as you’re offered a ride or when you ask for the ride.
• Don’t eat smelly food.

If you’re traveling by plane…

• Long lines can be harrowing but don’t ruin the beginning or end of someone else’s vacation by losing it.
• Try not to dominate the overhead baggage compartment.
• Take your shoes off if you have to stand on a seat for some odd reason, same goes for children.
• Mind your buttiquette, space is tight.
• If you’re traveling on someone’s private plane, let the host give you your seat assignment.
• Don’t eat smelly food.

If you’re traveling by bus or train…

• Mind your buttiquette.
• Stay in your own seat.
• Be pleasant but don’t strike up a conversation that could go on and on to your dismay.
• Offer your newspaper or magazine to a fellow passenger, it’s a nice gesture and helps if you don’t want to start up a conversation with a stranger.
• Don’t eat smelly food.

If you’re traveling by sea…

• On a sailboat, first thing, you should take off your shoes. Pack your clothes in duffel bags and don’t over pack – space can be limited. Shower quickly and go light on the toilet paper.
• Keep your belongings secured, things are known to fly when a boat heels and could be dangerous.
• On a yacht, like sailboats, bare feet or white-soled shoes. Don’t over pack; there may not be a laundry room on board. Leave the Manolos and Louis Vuitton hard luggage home.
• Don’t feel compelled to offer to contribute to fuel; it could cost tens of thousands of dollars!
• Ask what time meals are served; if you want to sleep in ask if you could get something later.
• Verify your arrival and departure dates and times.
• Leave your nautical costumes at home.
• Eat what is being served smelly or not.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Some of us are going away to be a guest in someone’s home. Some of us are staying close to home and planning a barbecue or hostessing guests for the weekend.

We chose what we thought were the top four dos for both guests and hosts.


1. If you’re contributing a dish to a barbecue, arrive on time. If you’re an overnight guest, arrive at a decent time.

2. Offer to help but don’t insist to the point of becoming annoying.

3. Always take something (a bottle of wine, a dessert, fruit).

4. Extra guests? Ask first.


1. Make sure you’re ready for your guests when they arrive.

2. Be aware of any food allergies especially if you’re planning on baking a pecan pie.

3. Accept help from guests if they offer but remember they are guests.

4. Instead of over scheduling and planning, let the party or weekend flow at its own pace.

5. May we recommend a Monte's Ham?


Tuesday, June 11, 2013



To the thousands and thousands, probably millions of people who think it’s all right to smoke in front of buildings and apparently are not aware of second hand smoke.


To the millions of people who have become so important since owning a Smartphone, so important that crashing into you as they text, read, whatever, doesn’t matter. How dare you hold your head up while walking in the street?


To men, women, young, healthy people who continue to disrespect elders, the physically challenged, and pregnant women by sitting while they stand. (We would also like to include parents and caregivers who make sure their tots are seated in an unpaid for seat instead of putting them on their lap, you are excused if you have more than one small child in your company.)


People who spit anywhere they please in public.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Peanuts recently at The Beach Cafe
Recently, I was having drinks with a friend and at a certain point some peanuts seemed like a good idea. The bartender gave us a fresh scoop (we hope) out of a big tin.  I asked for a spoon to take small amounts and put them into my hand.

I don’t want you to ruminate on this too much, I’ve done that for you, but when serving nuts and other nibbles you should really place a spoon in the bowl or cup they’re being served in.  Of course, we all know only nice people who wash their hands before peanut diving, but besides stubborn germs the taste of hand sanitizer or lotion could ruin a perfect heap of nuts.

That’s why many diners provide spoons in the bowl of complimentary mints near the door.  That’s why the next time you go to a bar and feel like some peanuts, it’s perfectly correct to ask for a spoon.  Of course, you could get laughed out of a dive but you shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


It’s just about that time of year to start slapping the steak and ribs on the grill.  No doubt, you’ll either host a barbecue or be invited. It's Memorial Day weekend.

Some hosts will provide everything and will graciously accept your bottle of wine or homemade Sangria.  No need to surprise them with baked beans, thirty-six ears of corn or anything else they didn’t ask for.  The gesture is well intentioned but could take up valuable counter and/or table space and waste.   

If you’re hosting a potluck cook out, make sure guests check in with you for your needs, this way you won’t have too much dessert.  Oftentimes, guests think you can never go wrong with a pie, in fact you can go hungry with just pie and get awful sugar rushes that make small children go nuts.

If you’re a vegetarian, supply your own veggie burgers and faux hotdogs. Your hosts will probably appreciate it.  But you shouldn’t expect them to scrub away any traces of meat.  Take extra just in case others want to try a meatless Monday.

The best tip for all – respect and honor the significance of Memorial Day, it’s not just about the ribs.  That’s why wishing someone “Happy Memorial Day” is inappropriate, there is nothing happy about the thousands of men and women who died for their country. It is honorable.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Pretty please National Etiquette Week, we all need you to stick around. If you do maybe people will stop spitting on the street. Maybe they’ll rinse away their dog’s puddle of pee away from the front of buildings. Who wants to be a human puddle jumper?

National Etiquette Week, we need you to stay with us so maybe our chests are no longer treated as luggage racks by back packers and ladies with huge handbags that they don’t seem to care about because they get in their way and end up in our way.

As you know, National Etiquette Week, Rome wasn’t built in a day but maybe if you’re around, we won’t have to listen to the music of tin bands coming out of the ear buds of people who think they’re cool or are too cool to care. Men may stop looking at women and the elderly standing as they sit in all of their coolness (they usually look to the floor, funny, when we listen to music in our homes we don’t stare at the floor) and ignore the world around them.

If you stay, compliments will be earnest, not half-baked and they will be received graciously. People will return phone calls and emails. They will say, “Thank you!” How about that? We could go on and on, but we prefer that you do that. All the best and it’s good to see you.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Strolling along Second Avenue on Manhattan's Upper East Side, where I’m convinced that all the restaurants share a vast industrial kitchen underground, a pizza pie caught my eye. It had just been placed on a sidewalk cafe table where a family of three was happy to see it and at the same time an acquaintance who’d spotted them. He didn’t step back to distance himself from the fully loaded pie, he just kept talking all over the salami, peppers cheese, etc. For me, he was too close for comfort food.

I am in touch with my germ issues. And it made me think about the time I saw friends with their daughter and marveled how properly she ate her bread, small pieces with little pats of butter. They were eating al fresco and I remember being mindful of not adding any moisture to their bread plate.  I'm sure they’ll let me know if I did the right thing after this post.

Unless you are begged to have a seat, a wave, or even an air kiss is fine but when the food comes, it’s time for you to go. Buon Appetito! Buon Viaggio!

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Dear Employed Person,

            First, congratulations on being employed during these challenging times.  You know that it can change on a dime and it could be you seeking advice or a connection.
            So, the next time a friend, family member or acquaintance either calls you or emails you, acknowledge them. Respond, call back and treat them the way you would want someone to treat you if you were in the same position. If you can’t help, let them know you wish you could. If you have any thoughts or tips, share them.
            Since companies are leaner and meaner, you’re probably doing twice the work and most likely can’t get back to people immediately, that’s okay but no need to keep them waiting for weeks. And in all fairness to you, you may have good emails in your junk mail file - visit it every now and then.
            The thing about email versus a phone call, you don’t have to spend time talking about the weather or asking about the family or spending time on the phone for all to see in the new open space model of most companies.
            The New York Times recently ran a piece on unanswered emails. There were some very good points and there were a couple of lame excuses, read for yourself.
            To the unemployed, wait a couple of weeks and follow up. If you still don’t hear back, move on, you’ll regret sending that email that gently scolded the non-responder. Remember, they don’t think they’re rude; they’re just too busy for you. And maybe one day, you’ll be able to show them that you know better when they come calling on you.