Friday, April 25, 2008

Aww, you got a present. Now say, "thank you," lazy-ass.

Yes, the true spirit of a "gift" is to give something with no expectations of anything in return.

But, hell, a "thank you" would be nice. Written, preferrably.

Look, people: the gift-giver spent time, money and energy. The least you can do is say -- verbally and written -- "thank you."

There's an unfortunate trend going around right now -- helped along by the retail paper, wedding industry, and photo-ordering sites, no doubt-- of these stupid "photo thank yous."

I'm sad to say that I've received my unfortunate fair share of these lazy, thoughtless photos posing as thank-yous. These flimsy photos have landed in my mailbox after weddings, christenings, and children's birthday parties. The photo cards are pre-ordered by the clueless parents (or, in one case, bride) before the occasion. Immediately after said party, to which I drove over an hour, purchased a gift with my good money, and spent my time watching you corral your brats (or get married, whatever), the lazy parent or lazy bride then shoves a pre-printed photo card with a photo of guest of honor into an envelope, does not include a personalized note, and sends it off.

Frankly, I'm offended. (see effort, time, driving, money, etc. cited above)

Whenever someone makes the effort to show up for you, and has gone to time and expense to bring you a gift, take 30 seconds, grab some note paper, and write a couple sentences of thanks, then spend 42 cents and mail it, lazy ass.

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's Not Your Food -- Yet.

Again and again, Etiquette Bitch finds herself shaking her head asking, "Didn't your mother teach you any manners?" The answer, unerringly, is "no."

When I was a little girl, Mom took me to the local WiseWay to grocery shop. Not eat. That's what you do at home in the privacy of your own dining room.

About 10 years ago, I was shopping in Andronico's with my friend Tina. Apparently, she was hungry. She brandished a bag of cookies. "I'm starving. I'm going to eat one of these now," she said.

"Are you kidding me?" I said.

"What? Don't you just eat in the grocery store when you're hungry?" she asked.

"No. That's rude. It's not your food yet; you haven't paid for it." I also mentioned to her I thought it was disgusting--when you open food and eat, you've got germs and bacteria flying around. And who knows where your hands have been.

Tina ate a cookie, then sheepishly stowed the bag in her cart, to be paid for later. After that day, Tina loved to gush at parties about how, "Etiquette Bitch thinks I'm rude for eating cookies in the store."

Well, yes, I do. And I'm still appalled to see this happening. Today, ~ 2 pm, Whole Foods Evanston, the checkout line. A little imp of about 9 years old was helping push his mom's cart into line behind me. He whined about how heavy it was (it was; the woman was cramming a month's worth of groceries into one of those half-carts); he started to unload the cart onto the conveyor belt, and then he yelled for the cashier who was waiting on the guest ahead of me. He jiggled a Stonyfield Farms yogurt in his hand. "Excuse me! Excuse me! Do you have a spoon?" he called out three times, before the cashier, bless her, answered him.

"No, I don't have a spoon," she said.

Okay -- let's just pause here for a moment and examine this situation. The kid is in the checkout line. He will be out of the store and free to eat in 3-5 minutes, if that. And he has to yell two customers ahead to get a fucking spoon so he can eat right now.

So, of course, the impatient brat didn't wait. "Do you know where I can get a spoon?" he called.

"They're in the cafe," said the cashier.

The kid blew outta there, and in a flash, he was back, plastic spoon in hand. He ripped open the yogurt faster than you can say "Stonyfield Farm," and had three spoonfuls shoved in -- most of it dripping down his chin--before his mom asked him to go get yet another item, because she needed four--not three-- pounds of butter. He kept shoveling and guess where the yogurt ended up? Some on him, some on the groceries.

What galled me, too, is that the mother stood there, ignoring: his yelling, his impatience, and his mess . Why are we not teaching our kids patience? A two-minute wait would not have killed him.

NOTE/UPDATE: I will allow that when the grocery store is handing out free samples, chow away. They are giving you the food. The unopened bag -- you haven't paid for it. And how grimy/uncouth is it to ask the cashier to ring up your opened, empty bag that just had your food-coated hands all over it?

I recall another food store visit when the woman ahead of me in line had just snarfed down a candy bar. She then handed the grimy, chocolate-smeared, torn wrapper to the cashier with a, "here."

Folks, I don't care how hungry you are. You're not supposed to go shopping on an empty tummy. You spend a ton more money that way. If you're hungry on the way to the grocery store, go get a cookie at Starbuck's, or drive through some fast-food joint, and chow down. Eating food you haven't yet purchased is not only rude, it's pretty disgusting. I'd even say unethical -- you have yet to pay for it.

The food isn't yours 'til you pay for it. Wait until you get to the car, then snarf away. Believe me, Etiquette Bitch does this regularly with her bulk chocolate and bananas.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bringing and Receiving Wine: Guests and Hosts

There seems to be a lot of confusion over whether guests should bring wine, and what should be done once the vino is proffered.

Let's straighten this out, shall we?

It's nice to bring wine, whether or not the host asked. As a host, it's okay to have a BYOB party. Keep reading to know what not to do in both sitches.

For the Guest

Scenario #1: You're invited to a dinner party. Host has asked for nothing, but you bring a bottle of wine.

First off, good on you for the nice manners. A certain etiquette columnist scoffs at the idea of bringing wine as "admission" to a dinner party. I don't think anyone thinks of it as "admission," merely the right thing to do.

Didn't your mom ever teach you, "never show up empty handed"? If she didn't, you should have at least heard this from Deepak Chopra.

When you're a dinner guest, it's nice to bring something--dessert, wine, even a nice card. Conventional wisdom says, "don't bring flowers -- it's extra work for the host!" but I disagree. I love flowers, I love people who bring me flowers, I love bringing my friends flowers.

For the Host and Guest

But back to the wine. When nothing was requested, the good host will thank you, and perhaps put it out, or she may set it aside. It's also nice if the host asks, "Would you like me to open this now?" The proper response is something along the lines of, "Whatever you want." It's rude to make a host feel like she HAS to open and drink your bottle right there. Besides, what if she's a recovering alcoholic?

If you're the host, never ever do what Jan on "The Office" did and say, "Oh, good, we'll use this for cooking."

Also, if you've brought wine, do not, under any circumstances, ask for or take it back at the end of the night. It's classless, and looks cheap. I once hosted a dinner where we could not open all the wine that was brought. I was once told by one guest, on her way out the door, "Go ahead and keep the wine." Um, yeah, I was planning to do exactly that.

For the Host: BYOB Parties

Scenario #2: You've indicated your party is BYOB (acceptable) and everyone brings wine.

Leave it out for partygoers to enjoy.

I once attended an engagement party where we were told on the invite, "Bring wine or presents." Okay, demanding anything is rude, but I played along and brought a nice vintage. I arrived, handed my wine to the host, and watched as she promptly turned and stowed it in her liquor cabinet for her personal use. Rude.

So, got it? Bring wine as a nice gesture; as the host, leave it out. Good.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rule #1 for Rude Hosts

Okay folks, listen up. Time to behave when you throw a party.

Today I'm starting with hosts. Don't worry, I'll butcher the rude guests in later posts.

Lesson #1 -- for all occasions -- do not ask for money. EVER. It's rude, it's uncouth, and it makes your event feel like a shakedown, not a celebration.

I don't care if you're getting married, you're both over 30, and "have everything you need."
Too bad. It's rude to ask for money -- any time, any reason. And don't even get me started on those stupid "dollar dances," wherein guests must pay for the "privilege" of dancing with the bride (or groom. I hear they can go either way).

And no, by cloaking your request in a "sweet little poem" does not make it any less rude. I was appalled to stumble upon a website offering "cute, polite ways to ask for money." The most offensive one I saw included the lines, "please do not take us wrong/..../please play along." Boy, asking your guests to "play along" with your childish whims -- that's a good one! Hoo-doggie!

I don't care if you threw a lavish party and "it was really expensive." Host the party you can afford, cheapskate. Or host a potluck.

Similarly, it is rude to ask for gifts -- or ask for specific gifts. Recently, Etiquette Bitch was invited to a baby shower with this directive on the invite: "No Baby Clothes!" Gee, I was about to spend time, energy and money on this joyous occasion, and you have the gall to tell me how to spend my money? Uh-uh, sister.

Have you ever been shaken down by a host? Any rude requests, or manners questions you have for me? Email me: