|Dear Etiquetteer:Recently we were invited guests at the Roman Catholic baptism of a six-year-old girl. We’re atheists, and at a certain moment, when we were asked to raise our hands in blessing over the little girl, we felt a certain — shall we say, lack of good sportspersonship? — and neither of us were able to comply. The moment was awkward for us, and for the parents of the child, who saw that we were alone in not raising our hands.To the question: should we who don’t believe even go to baptisms? And if we do, should we then comply with all the ritual requests? Where would one draw the line?Dear Thoughtful:Letâ€™s consider the intimacy of the occasion first. A proper baptism is not a gala occasion, but rather a small gathering of only family and close friends of the newbornâ€™s parents. It includes a ceremony in the familyâ€™s place of worship (which may or may not be part of a regularly scheduled worship service) followed by an all-white cake with a glass of champagne. Being invited to a baptism signifies how dearly your friends consider you. Itâ€™s an honor.Having accepted the invitation to a church ceremony, Etiquetteer considers it your responsibility to learn in advance exactly how guests are to participate. Just ask your hosts, explaining that you neither want to compromise your beliefs nor offend them. Then you can make an informed decision about whether or not to attend. Once youâ€™ve accepted the invitation, it is your duty as a guest to participate, taking cues from other participants. Etiquetteer would draw the line at reciting a creed or singing a hymn contrary to your beliefs. In the meantime, your friends invited you to witness something very special in their familyâ€™s life, and think that you dissed their new baby. Something tells Etiquetteer that that isnâ€™t what you want them to think. If you havenâ€™t already, follow up with a lovely baby gift — Etiquetteer loves â€śPat the Bunnyâ€ť for baby gifts — and continue to take an interest in the child. Youâ€™ll repair the friendship.
When you get invited to a political event where the “suggested donation” reads $250 and $500, is it OK to show up with a check for $100? No check at all? And what, if anything, do you say at the campaign, to said freeloader?
Dear Political Operative:
Etiquetteer invites you to consider the nature of a suggestion. Itâ€™s a hint, a proposal; it isnâ€™t binding. â€śSuggested donation,â€ť whether used by a candidate at a fund-raiser or a museum at the front door, means â€śWeâ€™d really like this particular amount of money from you.â€ť But as with any suggestion, people are free to take it or leave it.Candidates raise more than money at political events. They raiseawareness among voters. And if, for whatever legal reason it is, you have to list â€śsuggested donationâ€ť instead of â€śticket priceâ€ť or â€śadmission,â€ť you will get some guests who donâ€™t take the suggestion. Welcome them with open arms and your biggest smile. All you have to say is â€śIâ€™m counting on your support in the voting booth.â€ť
While generally not acknowledged, it is generally accepted that when a soon-to-be married couple develops the guest list for their wedding, there are two lists: the so-called A list and B list. If a guest is B-listed, the invitation may arrive somewhat later than those of A list guests. However, if a B-listed guest does not receive a printed,mailed invitation, but instead is invited via telephone, or worse yet, via a third party, is the guest required to attend the wedding?
Dear Erstwhile Wedding Guest:
Etiquetteer is delighted to inform you that you have not even made the B list for this wedding. Why go to the wedding of people who treat their guests so disrespectfully before the reception cash bar even opens? Wedding invitations are never properly issued by third parties or over the phone without an invitation sent to confirm. We are all created equal, and we all deserve a lavishly engraved invitation suitable for framing. Brides and their mothers who permit such casual inviting deserve to be showered with 37 identical toaster ovens in harvestgold or avocado green.
When someone is giving a presentation, how do you tell them that their fly is unzipped?
Dear Attentive Audience Member:What are you doing under the podium that youâ€™d even notice? Get out from under there!
ETIQUETTEER, Encouraging Perfect Propriety in an Imperfect WorldTo subscribe: email@example.comTo unsubscribe: firstname.lastname@example.orgTo submit questions: email@example.comCopyright 2002, 2003 by Robert B. Dimmick
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