Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


In this age of political correctness, few subjects have escaped its grip including a well intentioned 'Merry Christmas'.

What do you say? Do you dispense your holiday wishes according to the receiver? If you live in a city like New York, this could be a mess. Do you say Happy Holiday to your Jewish friends and Merry Christmas to your Christian friends and Happy Kwanzaa to your African American friends? (More on Kwanzaa later.)

Yvette covers it all in one fell swoop with 'Happy Holidays'. "It's all inclusive," she says. I prefer 'Merry Christmas'. I like the word 'merry' and that's how it makes me feel every time I say it. Just before Thanksgiving I'll say, "Happy Holidays".

We never, never wish any of our African American friends Happy Kwanzaa. It's not that we don't wish them happiness but we don't recognize that particular holiday. We do wish our mother Happy Kwanzaa because she's proud to celebrate it. Yvette was very disturbed when she read that Angelina Jolie wants to make sure her adopted Ethiopian daughter, Zahara, celebrates Kwanzaa. Why can't the family celebrate, Ganna, the Ethiopian Christmas holiday?

The color of skin shouldn't color the holidays. Yvette and I always find it entertaining when a white friend wishes us Happy Kwanzaa. We understand that their intention is to be politically correct or respectful. But Kwanzaa is a little different from the rest. Be sure and visit the Kwanzaa web site for some clarity.

Holidays are joyous. And you should feel free to spread that joy. Do what feels right. If you say Merry Christmas and you realize you just said it to someone who's Jewish, don't start correcting yourself and wonder out loud what to say. Just smile and keep on moving. If you are wished a 'Happy Hanukkah' no need to point out that you're not Jewish. A heartfelt thank you is in order.

So, Yvette wishes you a Happy Holiday. And I wish you a Merry Christmas. And a Happy Kwanzaa to you, mother.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


  • Show up on time.
  • Show up with something.
  • Don't pile up your plate, you can always go back for more.
  • Don't yell, "I want some dark meat".
  • Offer to help but don't insist.
  • If you're hosting, don't treat your guests like the help. 
  • Spare your guests from endless recipe secrets, e.g. "I rubbed the bird with roasted bourbon buttered salt." If they ask, do tell.
  • Be grateful and gracious even if your dinner has as much taste as the illustration above.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


“I can’t believe it when perfect strangers come up and touch my baby,” a new mother told us. She understands how people find babies cute and cuddly but touching is a no-no.

• If you know the baby’s parents, offer to wash your hands first before asking, and you should, if you can hold the baby.

• If you’re the parent, there’s nothing wrong with you offering a sanitizer or suggesting that someone wash their hands.

• If you happen to see a cute baby, no need to put your face in the carriage or stroller, and there’s never a need for you to touch the baby’s cheeks or hands. Do so at your own risk.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


These straws are a bit fat, imagine the slender, red elegant ones.
I never really know what to do with straws in cocktails because I usually drink wine. But, tonight I had a Lillet (Okay, two.) with my friend, Tom. It came in a wine glass on the rocks with a slice of orange and two skinny straws.

“Should we use the straws?” I asked. My inclination was to use it as a stirrer, not that anything needed stirring because I wasn’t going to add the orange and poke the juices out of it in my glass.

We sipped our drinks with the straws. Nice and it was a great way to avoid a bunch of ice slapping upside my upper lip. It’s fine to use a straw even if it’s not a mixed cocktail with an umbrella. If you don’t want to use one, take it out of the glass and place it on the cocktail napkin. But once you’ve decided to not use a straw, no picking it up and chewing on it or digging around in your mouth. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Carpooling Dos & Don'ts

1. No eating breakfast sandwiches even if the meat is turkey.
2. No talking on cell phones, you can text.
3. Do not be late.
4. Do not talk incessantly if quiet seems to be the rule.
5. Do not complain about the choice of radio stations or make a request if you haven’t been asked.
6. Do not complain if the driver keeps changing stations and ask, “Why do you keep doing that?”
7. Do not suggest a better location to meet. You have no car; therefore you have no good ideas.
8. Don’t gripe about the cost of the carpool, you didn’t buy a car.

9. Always thank the driver.
10. Don’t complain about lack of heat or air conditioning. If the driver is comfortable, you are comfortable.
11. What’s said in the car stays in the car.
12. If you must gossip, make it about you.
13. Go easy on the cologne or perfume.
14. You don’t have to announce that you’re going to shower after working out in the gym at the office.
15. Understand the pecking order, if you’re new, you sit in the back but never alone in the back seat if there’s no one in the passenger’s seat.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Egg in Your Face For Free!

In between kitchen shifts, some bars around  town offer boiled eggs for free. At Balthazar one bartender tends to supply a small plate but you can use your napkin to crack, peel and salt. It would be tacky to ask for mayonnaise and some bread. If you're that hungry, ask for the menu. Cheers!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Yvette and I don't think that being twins is one big barrel of fun. A lifetime of being mistaken for someone else can be trying. The script rarely varies. "Oh, I thought you were your sister. You two look so much alike." That's what identical twins do, they look alike.

When we were little girls, adults used to ask us to stand back to back to see who was taller. And since we had to respect our elders and not express to them how that made us feel, we did it. The back to back and side by side tests were sometimes cruel. They would go so far as to say who was prettier. Twin enthusiasts also make the odd assumption or at least act like our hearing isn't too swift. How many times have we heard and watched people talk about us while we're standing there? We've been twins all of our lives so we don't understand the fascination that singletons have with us. And nothing is more sad when someone says, "I always wanted to be a twin."

"Are you the right one?" a woman asked Yvonne. "I'm Yvonne, is that all right? What the woman meant is if Yvonne was the twin she knew.

"Can't you be a little more patient with people? Try to understand them." a friend asked.
"No," Yvonne replied. "Can't they try and understand?"

To us and the enlightened we have distinct noticeable differences. But what happens is that when people see twins, they automatically see sameness, there can be no differences.

The next time you see a set of identical twins, consider these dos and don'ts:

  • Don't ask twins if one feels the other's pain. Very dull and uninspiring question. The same goes for, "Are you twins?"
  • Don't ask who's the oldest. This has more impact than you think. We have a friend who has twins and won't tell the boys who's the older because she doesn't want them to take on younger/older brother roles. They're just minutes apart.
  • Do feel free to say, "Hello, Yvonne." If it's the wrong name, it's okay, we'll tell you. Don't stand there and play a guessing game.
  • Do be mindful of how often the same questions are asked
  • Do speak in your adult voice, for some reason people fall into a baby voice when they talk to us.
  • Don't point out similarites and differences when the twins are present, especially among other people. This can be embarassing and rude to other guests.
  • Don't feel compelled to give both twins a compliment just because both are standing in front of you. e.g. "Yvette you like nice, so do you, Yvonne
  • Do respect twins as individuals despite their DNA.
  • Don't walk up to a twin and say, "You're not speaking to me?" Obviously, it's the twin you don't know.
Yvette and I have four other siblings, they are just as special and unique. We've been told that we're miracles. We're not. We're just twins.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


“He’s made a horrible mistake,’ a man whispered to his girlfriend.” I, Yvonne, didn’t understand the big deal. “What’s wrong with a man doing that?“ I asked my friend’s fidanzato.

“Maybe in America, but the person in the lower position doesn’t extend his hand to a person in a higher position.” His fidanzata wasn’t of noble blood and neither was the man who had the audacity to want to shake her hand as a kind gesture. But her boyfriend was on to something according to basic handshaking etiquette.

• A man doesn’t extend his hand to a woman; it’s up to the woman if she wants him to have the pleasure of touching her hand.

• A commoner upon meeting Queen Elizabeth should wait for the Queen to extend her hand. And if you’re going to the same event, don’t show up after her arrival, it's in bad form.  And even though she made people wait, you still have to wait for her to extend her hand.

Apparently, when it comes to handshaking, we have to have a good idea of our place or rank in society. It can be very confusing so better to be humble and assume that you don’t rank as high as the person you’re meeting. Wait for the them to extend their hand, as you would do if you were meeting a queen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


            This is so gross, we’ll be brief. The other day, one of us had lunch with a very nice group of people.  One of the women felt so comfortable with all these nice people that she tucked one leg under the other exposing the filthy sole of her shoe.  Surely, she didn’t have any intention of ruining our lunch but every time we looked at our handbag or had to dig for something, we had to see her sole and it was ugly.
            In some cultures, and ours should be included, it’s rude to show someone the soles of your dirty feet or shoes. 
            We propose a new day, Keep Your Feet Flat on the Ground Day, starting right now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Two of our near and dear friends, both men, recently married. For them, it was the natural thing to do. However, there have been some interesting observations and clearly there are some kinks to work out, not on their part but on the part of friends, family, and acquaintances.

They have been teasingly referred to as, “Husband and Husband.” They have been asked, “Which one is Spouse A and which one is Spouse B?” This is how same sex marriage titles are referred to on the marriage license. Talk about odd. “Hi, I’m Spouse A, has my significant Spouse B arrived, yet?”

“We want to be continued to be known by our first names,” said one of the couple. “I don’t need to call him my husband to validate our relationship.” He points out that their marriage made legal something they’ve believed in for 30 years.

Note, we are not making any couple of the same sex wrong for wanting to give themselves titles but it’s up to them and before you assign them these titles ask, “How would you like to be referred to?”

And one more thing, imagine if someone asked you in front of your significant other, “So when are you getting married?” This is a highly personal question, not casual cocktail party chatter. It’s in bad form to ask any kind of couple this question, as bad as, “So, when are you two going to have children?”

Let’s celebrate and honor all marriages with sensitivity and the utmost respect. Equality, it’s a beautiful thing.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Labor Day Weekend - Four Tips for Guests and Hosts

Some of us are going away to be guests in someone’s home. Some of us are staying close to home and either planning a barbecue or going to one.

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.


Friday, August 12, 2011

What Time’s Dinner? It Depends.

“Please don’t come to my house at 8pm sharp or earlier,” a friend in France pleaded. “Here we don’t like it when people come early. A little late is better, 20 minutes is fine.”

“Older Dutch people come to dinner right on time. I hate it,” explains Melvin in Amsterdam. “Most of my friends come later, good friends come early to help.”

If you don’t want to be invited back, show up late at a dinner in Switzerland. “It’s us ex-pats who screw it up by arriving late,” said an American living in Geneva.

For a business dinner in Nigeria, you can come politely 15 minutes late. For a social dinner, you can come a half hour late. “But most arrive about one hour late,” a Nigerian businessman told us.

In Greece, show off how rude you can be by showing up on time. For one hostess, 15 minutes late is fine. If you want guest to arrive promptly, you have to justify it via the food or the restaurant, e.g. the fish hardens if it’s not eaten promptly.

“Don’t ever expect Latinos to arrive on time or leave on time,” points out a Venezuelan. “They are known to stay late, so late, there’s even a song played at parties that means, “it’s time to go home”.”

Our friend Jim who used to live in London loved their wonderful expression when inviting, “Seven-thirty for eight”. Drinks begin at seven-thirty and dinner at eight.

Italy is pretty much like many places including New York, 15 minutes late is fine. But coming an hour or more late is unacceptable, especially if all you were doing was nothing.

We're taking the month of August off, we'll start posting after Labor Day.  Meanwhile, we're doing some recycling. We're trendy that way.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Even before the recent financial crunch, people have thrown birthday parties that require a fee. For some, it’s the only way they could have had a party. They’d rather their good friends join in on the fun at a reasonable cost than not to have anything at all. Sometimes the celebrant or friends and family execute this plan.

While that’s understandable, it may not be to guests who want to celebrate their friend’s birthday but can also be in the same boat financially. In fact, we were recently invited to a birthday party on a boat for a family member and not all of us will be on the same boat because of the cost.

We think the idea of charging for a birthday party should be floated beforehand – ask around and see how much the traffic can bear. You may find other options more comfortable for everyone. It’s one thing to agree on a place where there’s a cash bar. It’s another thing if there is literally an admission fee. You’re not having a party; you’re running a business. And if it’s a surprise pay party, it could be very embarrassing for the guest of honor when he/she finds out that their friends had to pay to party.

Yvonne remembers a pitiful birthday dinner for her when she lived in Italy. A friend, who didn’t know Yvonne well, tried to put a group together to have a surprise dinner for her at her favorite restaurant that wasn’t terribly cheap. What was supposed to be a group of six including Yvonne, turned out to be the big three. “When the check came, there was a bit of a scramble figuring out who had what pasta. I know that my friend meant well but she didn’t know my friends well enough to ask for that kind of financial commitment.”

Different from birthday parties, retirement parties and events honoring someone usually come at a cost and that’s fine. It’s an agreed upon group effort.

We don’t mean to be party poopers, quite the contrary. We’re just suggesting that the life of the party shouldn’t depend on the wallets of the guests.

We're taking the month of August off, we'll start posting after Labor Day.  Meanwhile, we're doing some recycling. We're trendy that way.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Polish vs Polished

A lady on the bus polished her nails, hands and toes. Her goal was to be polished. The fumes were awful and so was her lack of polish.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Well-Mannered American Living In Paris

Lauren Sarafan and Susan Oubari
Bastille Day is on July 14th. We thought this would be a good excuse to talk about an American who’s happily living in Paris and how it’s affected her own etiquette. Her name is Susan Oubari. We learned about Susan after reading about her on a popular site EyePreferParis and in a book, Paris Revealed, The Secret Life of Paris. Besides managing a household and family, Susan is in the business of style. She refers to herself as a Personal Art Director. She will art direct whatever facet of your life that needs it. Susan blogs along with her friend and writer, Lauren Sarafan who lives miles and hours away in Los Angeles.

We asked Susan and Lauren (a frequent visitor) how their experiences have shaped or re-shaped their codes of behavior.

How has living in Paris affected your own etiquette?

Since living in Paris I have become more aware of  etiquette... This is what I've learned since then and I would advise to anyone coming to Paris:

1) Say "Bonjour, Madame or Monsieur" upon arriving in a store, restaurant, cafĂ©, etc, don't forget to say, “Au revoir, merci!!!” with a smile as you leave! (You’ll get brownie points, I swear.)

2) In a store, after having said, " Bonjour,"make sure you say, "Would you mind if I take a look around please?" Don't get upset when the saleswoman follows you and puts the coat hangers back into their perfect 1-inch separation position. (C’est la vie!)

3) At the dinner table, put your napkin on your lap once the hostess has done so and keep your hands above the table. Don’t sit or eat before the hosts. When pouring wine the glass should be no more than three-quarters full. If you're giving a dinner party, set the table with the forks “prongs down” (it is very offensive to do it the American way “prongs up”)

4) Try to talk less (or at least less loudly), I know it is hard to do.

5) Parisians can be snobby, so I make a point to be overly friendly and correct when conversing with them. My French friends do the same. I would rather make more of an effort than have them make me feel like they want to spank me!

Is there a basic difference between Americans and Parisians when it comes to

Americans are more spontaneous and less contrived. Parisians are too married to their rules.

When Yvonne, lived in Milan,  Italians would make fun of her accent when she spoke Italian. Do you encounter this? If so, how do you handle it?

Actually, the Parisians don’t seem to tease in general. Their humor is different, if anything; they can even enjoy a good Canadian or American accent. The Canadian accent has become quite fashionable lately due to Canadian celebrities. If by chance I can't get myself understood on the phone, I sometimes just say, "Hey, I’m American and trying my best!"

Lauren: My best friend’s 13-year-old son is so embarrassed by my French and constantly telling me not to speak and to allow him to ask for anything we need. No one has ever made me feel bad about trying.

Are men and women expected to split the check?

I’ve been married forever; I haven't gone on a date for 20 years! But I can't imagine the woman paying for herself on a date. The men always pay, and sometimes one man pays for everyone, and then the next time the other man foots the bill. Men pay for the women. I make sure I send flowers the next day if another couple pays for my husband and me at a restaurant.

Lauren: I just see men paying for women. I enjoy being a girl.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Apparently, it’s not up to you. Just this morning, a woman was standing on line with sweat dripping from her chin! She had no shame or towel. She was perfectly at ease having strutted her sweat from the cycling place (the cool place to be these days) a few doors away.

A runner friend of ours confessed to once going into a coffee shop after a run and sensed that it was rude. “I grabbed a bunch of napkins and wiped off as best I could before I got on line.” 

If gyms demand that we wipe down the equipment after use, should coffee shops and restaurants demand that those who are fresh from exercising wipe off before entering? YES. Many of these offenders think nothing of taking a seat to enjoy their beverage without considering that the next person who comes along may not want to sit on a moist seat. Seems like with pumped up endorphins comes a sense of pumped up entitlement.

There’s little recourse when you see someone sweating like the lady on line this morning. No doubt, they would be offended if you offered them a tissue. They know they’re sweating, they paid good money for it. So, we suggest that you look the other way and before you sit down, wipe off your seat. Don’t do it with a look of disdain or shaking your head furiously. Accept that it’s just another example of how anything seems to go these days, even a dripping chin near food.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ticket Please, But Not From Your Mouth

We have learned that one of the most unpleasant things that can happen to an airline ticket agent is when a passenger loaded with baggage hands him/her a ticket that was held in his/her mouth as they approached the counter. We've heard of hand to mouth but mouth to hand, the hand of another person?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Open Door Policy

A good and frustrated friend of ours suggested this post. He's not frustrated with his life nor doors per se, he just doesn't understand why many women can't seem to manage to thank him when he holds a door open for them. We don't get it either. "I wouldn't dare say anything because that wouldn't be gentlemanly, but it's getting annoying," he added. He's not alone. "The worst ones are the women so busy on their cell phones, it's as if you don't exist and the door opened on its own," pointed out another gentleman we know. He knows he shouldn't but on occasion he's yelled, "You're welcome." 

We've probably all been "doormen" at a certain point. The classic, is at an entrance to a department store when due to good manners you hold the door for one person and suddenly you're it for throngs of shoppers. And not one person thanks you for it.

Photo courtesy of the
Ladies, in case you're wondering where all the gentlemen are these days, they're at the door  wondering where are all the ladies.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Huma Abedin Doesn’t Need Friends’ Opinions

We had planned to write a post about inappropriate questions people innocently ask men and women who are not in relationships, e.g. “Why don’t you have anyone?” That tops our silly question list and we will get back to it.

On Monday, a politician, Ms. Abedin’s husband, Anthony Weiner, admitted to inappropriate behavior.

We hope that distant acquaintances aren’t trying to reach out her to find out more dirt. This happened to Yvonne years ago when she was humiliated by a boyfriend. He married another woman and didn’t get around to telling her. As news of the marriage spread, people Yvonne hadn’t heard from in years began to call as if they’d by chance ran across her phone number. She appreciated the friends who stayed close to her without a word or very few. “I knew there were real friends and my family standing close by, ready to catch me if I fell.”

We hope that instead of an email, friends and associates and even so-called friends will reach out to her with kind, supportive words on paper.

We hope that they are not offering suggestions as to what she should do about him or their marriage, unless she's asked.

And we hope they are not calling him names and sharing them with her. He’s her husband, with all due respect.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dining With Pushers

(Photo Courtesy of Paul Zara)

We should never push another person, dope or food. If the pusher at your table is under ten and belongs to you, say something. Otherwise, say nothing. Some things just aren't worth pushing.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


A friend of ours who works in a midtown restaurant explained the drama of presenting a check to a table. “There’s nothing more complicated than when a table of say, eight, wants to split one check with several credit cards. An even split is fine but some actually want to pay for their chicken, another one’s appetizer and someone else’s drink.”

And then there’s the old, “I had the this and you had the that." When it comes to leaving their share, "They forget about taxes and tips," she said. Leaving $30 for a $25 entree isn't a show of generosity.

The server isn’t being difficult if they can’t split the check to your liking. They have a computer to answer to. We learned that there are various computerized programs, such as Aloha and Micros. Some can break down individual meals and drinks by the seat and others don’t.

She advises diners to use cash or do an even divide on credit cards. Credit cards and some cash can work, it’s up to the server to make sure the credit card is closed out or the cardholder just unwittingly hosted a dinner. (This can usually be corrected.)

When she goes out with friends, they’ll give the last four digits of their credit card, the name of the card and how much to charge it. One acquaintance calls it an ATM night when he dines with others. He puts the whole check on his card and takes the cash. (He also avoids a bank fee.)

And one last tip – don’t stiff the server if you didn’t like your food. She/he didn’t cook it. Talk to the manager, you’d be surprised how generous restaurants can be when they know you weren’t happy.

Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bottoms Up? Not So Fast.

This is the proper way to hold a wine glass, by the stem. Don’t hold it as if it were a tumbler. When you clink glasses, look into the eyes of others toasting, it’s a show of sincerity and acknowledgement of their presence. If you don't drink, ask for a soft drink or water, no need to explain why. Then take a sip, leave the guzzling to big cars.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Monte's Ham
There’s nothing like a dependable ham to serve up at a cocktail party. No one knows this better or does this better than Monte Mathews of Monte’s Ham.

After recently observing one guest ripping off a piece of ham with their bare hands at a party, we thought it was time to give time to ham matters and manners. We asked Monte for some tips.

1. Never try to eat more than a biteful. If you’re the host, note that a piece of ham shouldn’t be larger than a 1-1 ½ inch square.

2. Ham sandwiches are great for cocktail parties, but they should be pre-made and not so big as if they’re going to be packed into a lunch box. Monte prefers Martin potato rolls. He finds party rye and pumpernickel breads too dry.

3. The perfect sandwich should have a layer of mayonnaise, honey mustard and a nice touch is a thin slice of English cucumber (Apparently, these can be found in America.)

4. If the host hasn’t pre-made sandwiches and you’re on your own, go easy on the mayonnaise and mustard and go easy on the host - if there’s no 23 whole grain bread provided, work with what’s there.

5. Never load up your cocktail napkin with a mound of sandwiches or other goodies. Greed is not good.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Death of Osama bin Laden, Something To Cheer About?

We don't think so. Yvette and I, no doubt, were pleased to hear that an important mission had been accomplished. However, it didn't occur to us to wave flags and run out and cheer. That would have been just as uncivilized as the crowds in the Middle East cheering in the streets, happy to hear about the death of three thousand innocent people on 9/11.

So, who's uncivilized now?  This is a time to show restraint and to show that through it all, we can show off our civility.  Every minute spent cheering bin Laden's death, is a moment stolen from the memory of one who lost their life on 9/11.

We should take a page out of a group in Long Island who chose to recognize the ones they lost. "It's not about Osama," one woman said.

If our government can muster the civility to assure that Osama was buried in proper Islam accordance after his heinous crimes against us,  individually, we can too.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Sputum seems to be everywhere we go. Men folk of all ages have an impressive ability to hock up a tremendous quantity of the matter. And it’s distressing to see more and more women doing the same. Maybe that’s why no one wants to kiss the ground anyone walks on?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Did You Wash Your Hands? Olivia J Wants To Know.

Olivia J is pretty, pretty smart, and pretty clean. She’s eleven years old and knows that it all comes out in the wash. Well, maybe not everything but Olivia knows that if we wash our hands the right way, something’s going to come out in the wash.

There are children and adults among us who will run out of the bathroom skipping another important pit stop - the sink. Sadly, for many it won’t be a new habit, it’s one that was never learned or enforced by parents and caregivers.

We asked Olivia a few questions about the importance of washing hands and how she handles the subject with her friends and fellow classmates.

1. Do you remember when your parents taught you the importance of washing your hands?

Yes, I do. And I remember them saying (actually more my mom) every time I came out of the bathroom to wash my hands. And I did. More recently, they have enforced the rule of coming home and washing your hands. And every time one of my friends comes over, I always tell them to wash their hands!

2. How many of the kids you go to school with leave the bathroom without washing their hands? A lot? Most? A few?

Not a lot. It's actually more of the boys than girls. I don't know why. But, some of the boys in my grade are very good about washing their hands.

3. Do you ever confront kids that don't wash their hands?

Yes, I confront them when I don't hear the sink going on, and the minute they come out of the bathroom, I ask them if they’ve washed their hands.

4. What do they say to you? Are they embarrassed?

They usually just groan and go back into the bathroom. And usually, just to bug them, when they come out again, I say: "Did you use soap?" Then they usually groan again and go back in. It's really pretty funny. :)

5. What advice would you give people?

I would say, when it comes to touching anything that other people have touched, ALWAYS CARRY HAND SANITIZER!

6. Any other gross habits you see?

Well, sometimes. A lot of people know this, but, something like little kids picking their noses, again, HAND SANITIZER!

Olivia J has spoken and we agree. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


There’s nothing like a great piece of bread with some butter. (Olive oil is another delicious story and we’ve already covered that ground.)

How the butter gets to the bread  or how you break it becomes interesting.  If the bread is sliced, take a slice and put it on your bread plate if you have one. It’s all right to put bread on a clean tablecloth (French bread works better than sliced white on a table for some reason.). We’re not too keen on doing the same on uncovered tables that could have been used as rests for handbags – you don’t know where those bags have been. If the bread isn’t sliced, just pray that everyone came to the table with clean hands.

Once you have your bread, tear off a piece and put the butter directly on it.  If you have a plate, take a whole pat or enough from the butter dish just for you. Don’t worry about restaurants running out of butter. Their purpose is to butter us up. Unfortunately, some places, usually diners, serve iced butter squares that tear up your bread before you can tear into it. We don’t have any advice for you there. Just understand where you are and own it.

Tina Wong:The Wandering Eater
How you make your bread and butter is up to you. Slapping  and spreading butter on a whole piece as if you're on an assembly line may not be your most elegant move.  And whatever you do, don't dip a piece of bread you've had a bite out of into a communal butter dish. If you do that, you’re breaking more than bread.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coughing and Sneezing 101

There’s been a lot of sneezing and coughing going around and it’s not all undercover. Just think, a cough travels 60 mph! If a tissue isn’t at hand, go for the elbow.  And if your elbow isn't convenient or if you're worried that you're going to make your cashmere or cotton sick, go for a cupped hand. (If you're going to do it, do it right.)  But, sanitize after this germy act as soon as possible. And, please, whatever you do, don't shake hands or dig into a bowl of nuts.

Here Kathleen Sebelius demonstrates how to cough/sneeze correctly in a chic white jacket. She should know, she's the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
So, why don’t we make this National Sneeze and Cough Right Day or Week? Or just introduce yourself to your inner elbow. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


“I just stop eating and drinking,” Yvette answered when I asked what does she do when sitting in between two people who talk over her food and spit – not intentionally, of course.

The other night, I did the same thing. I met a friend for a pizza at a neighborhood bar. We sat at the bar, it’s a fun place and everybody knows our names. I sat in the middle of my friend and another acquaintance who was especially talkative. Unfortunately, she might as well have repeated ten times, “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers….”. I stopped eating; fortunately, my glass of wine was out of range. This is not the way to cut down on calories or enjoy a meal between friends.

It's not just a bar thing. It happens even at fancy galas and dinner parties where people want to engage in conversation with you or the person to the other side of you as they emit delicate sprays of saliva.

Speak behind the diner in the middle or wait until the end of the meal. Or speak to the person to your immediate right or left but rather than talk to their plate or the hand, keep your head up and way from their food. Do everything you can to not spray when you have something to say.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oil Crisis At The Table

Recently, Yvette had the pleasure of dining with some friends. At least she thought they were friends until one of them tried to raise the collective blood pressure of the table.

The waiter had poured olive oil onto a plate and placed a basket of bread on the table. Each person took a piece, tore it into a smaller piece and then dipped it into the oil. Yum. One friend chose to put salt on her bread after she dipped it. We don’t have an issue with that. But, when the salt lover noticed she was the only dipper left or assumed she was, the olive oil plate received a generous donation of sodium.

All is not lost. Yvette was at Harlem’s Red Rooster (We like it a lot.) and sitting at a nearby table, a diner asked her table mates if it was all right for her to add salt to the oil. Yvette still thinks this is tacky. But I’ll cut Mademoiselle Sel some slack, at least she asked.

Friends don’t let friends get high blood pressure. Ask before you sprinkle.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


We interviewed three successful New York brokers about the importance of etiquette for buyers and sellers.

We began by asking about use of the bathroom. A good friend of ours learned from his broker that a potential buyer had used his bathroom and left solid evidence. Our brokers understand that when nature calls, you have to answer but do the right thing and clean up. "Never had an experience with Number 2," said Mitch Davie of Mitchell Davie LLC. "But I do allow clients to use the bathroom."

Speaking of nature, if you’re selling make sure you know when there’s a showing. One broker and buyer walked in on the sellers while they were extremely busy in the bedroom!

Be careful how you treat doormen and other building staff. "Buyers don't understand. The deal starts the minute the door opens and there's a meet and greet," pointed out Andrew Phillips, EVP, Associate Broker at Halstead Properties.

One couple treated the doorman so poorly; the seller took a little less money from nicer people. Pets have clout too; one deal was a no-go because a buyer was mean to the seller’s dog.

All agree there’s little to do about looky loos, people who look without any intention of buying. Open houses are one thing but otherwise they waste brokers' time. By the way, brokers have 24 hours in their day too. Lateness isn't acceptable and not being apologetic is atrocious. "Consequently, much time is spent on phones making excuses  for why one is late," said Davie

“Be honest about what you can really afford and if your circumstances change, tell your broker,” advises Audrey Edwards, VP, Director and Associate Broker of Brown Harris Stevens. “Why be embarrassed later?”

“I also think it’s in poor taste when a buyer wants to know why someone is selling and where are they going. It’s immaterial,” Edwards adds.

"It’s also in bad form to be critical of the seller’s taste," said Phillips. "The art of the deal has nothing to do with the art."

And speaking of the art of the deal, Yvonne thought it would be interesting to get Donald Trumps’ take on etiquette. It was a long shot. A receptionist, without saying a word transferred Yvonne to a recording that offered an address and a fax. A looky loo would have received better treatment. We're just saying.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


We’ve been in the process of going through our blog’s own facelift. Not that anything was sagging; we just wanted to freshen up a bit. Some of you thought Yvette and I were actually going under the knife. We didn’t. But welcome to our new look and what could be a better time than now to talk about facelift etiquette.

We started with our resident socialite, “Joy”. We asked her what goes on with facelifts amongst friends and acquaintances.
• If you’re close to someone who has had work, they’ll usually tell you. No matter what, you must say they look great. She pointed out that there’s a lot pain and time involved, so keep it positive.
• If it’s an acquaintance and you see them one day and it’s noticeable that they’ve had work done, and look great, just say, “You look amazing.” If they ‘fess up to knife work, ask them their doctor’s name. (Don’t be surprised if some don’t share information.)
• If the work didn’t work out, don’t say anything, certainly not negative, but don’t be dishonest and say something positive – say nothing.

We also talked to Dr. John Decorato, a plastic surgeon who had some tips on expectations.
• Trust that your surgeon is trying to obtain the best possible results.
• Be realistic, results are not immediately visible.
• It is not appropriate to bring celebrity photos (People actually do this.) and ask for replication of certain features.
• Bring photos of yourself 10, 15 and 20 years earlier, it’s helpful. Ideally, a facelift will make you look refreshed, more youthful not different.

Hope this helps. Now, we have a question and be honest, it will probably be the first and last time you’ll be asked for your opinion on a facelift. What do you think of ours?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

We're Off For A Facelift!

We'll be back soon. Meanwhile, we're looking for nominations for the Annual Rudey Awards. It can be a person, an incident, an anything.