Monday, August 26, 2013

Adventures in Etiquette

One of the interesting things about growing up in the hood with one immigrant parent and one largely absent parent (my dad spent much of my teen years as a truck driver) is learning how to navigate the world when moving in different social circles. This is one of the things I think a lot of talking heads miss when they are all "thugz need jobs!" Sure. But we also need someone to show us how the heck to dress and talk and all those other things that people like Mike learned from watching their parents. Not that I'm making excuses, people have choices, it's just that when the hole is deeper, it's a little harder to climb out.

I didn't get the job from last week. But I have two interviews and
an audition this week! I wore this to one interview today.



I seemed to do okay wherever I went because I had some amazing teachers who invested in me because they thought I had potential plus I read a lot and, as a result, spoke fairly well. I think a lot of you guys know I like to people watch. I learned to do that when I was a pre-teen and teen. I picked up a lot from friends and their parents. I got to go to a school in a better part of town because I made good grades. I was already an easy target for bullies because of my size so I wasn't *about* to stick out because I didn't eat or dress "right." Seriously, when I did go to school near my home, I hid in the library during lunch I was so scared of the other kids! When I had the chance to effectively start over, I decided to do it right. I even changed the way my name was pronounced. My dad always said it wrong so all my teachers did, too. When I went to the new school, I made everyone say my name correctly.

Later in college, I worked for a family that I learned a LOT from. I don't think they'll ever know how much I gleaned. I learned a lot about giving big parties and dinner parties, how to run a household, how to talk to delivery people, how to get proper medical care for my kids that I didn't have at that time, how to care for china and silver...so many simple things that I suspect many people just learn from family and friends and not from watching rich people, haha. And probably a few things that some people don't need to know but are nice to have in my pocket (like caring for china and silver!).

When I met Mike and started spending time with his family and in their circle of friends, I spent a huge chunk of time terrified that I'd make a wrong move and expose myself as an imposter--not that they were these high falutin' people or anything, I was just really scared of embarrassing myself and them in public. Inside I was always waiting to say or do something that would make people point and be all, "loooow classs, boooo." Like the old lady in Buttercup's dream in the Princess Bride.



Looking back, a lot of my worries were silly. People weren't waiting on me to mess up. I didn't really have to try quite so hard. But, maybe that's because now I'm comfortable in my own skin. And maybe the struggles with etiquette were part of that process. Who knows! By the way, I just realized I have never told the story of the first time I had dinner with Mike's parents. I almost died of fright when I saw all the china...but Pd saved the day with a plastic boot. More on that later.

Anyway, I bring all this up because I thought I'd write a little about etiquette. I've tackled the subject a little in the context of martial arts and grief and a few friends have asked advice on how to throw parties and how to be a good party guest. I've been wanting to write about that for a while and this seems as good a time as any since I haven't had any series going in a while. I promise it won't be boring because Emily Post I am not. But I realized I have sort of an outsider's perspective on the subject. I learned everything on purpose and I'm still constantly learning how to make a light imprint on the world. I have to confess, though, I love Miss Manners and advice columnists and all that so I'll probably be linking some of my favorites! If there's anything in particular you'd like to see here, let me know!

1 comment:

  1. Great post, and great perspective! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete