Etiquette. We love to make fun of it – from the character Rose Maybud in Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Ruddigore” who is constantly consulting her tiny etiquette book (“It’s manners out-of-joint, to point!”) to Vincent Price lecturing his creation “Edward Scissorhands” in the movie of the same name: “Etiquette tells us just what is expected of us and guards us from all humiliation and discomfort.”
But it’s no joke if you need access to solid protocol information to accomplish something, whether it’s planning a wedding, making sure the international guests aren’t needlessly offended or writing an appropriate condolence note.
This week marked the passing of an etiquette expert who has gotten me through many a vexing question — Letitia Baldrige.
A couple of lifetimes ago, when I did PR for a financial firm headed by a Brahmin who was probably born knowing which fork to use and in what order, I was handed the task of throwing a launch party for a new facility we were opening – three states away. Lots of honchos were involved. Everything had to be spot-on.
I ran right out and bought my own copy of “Letitia Baldrige’s Complete Guide to Executive Manners.” It saved me then, and has on several occasions since. Yes, I’ve committed any number of solecisms since then, but I like to think there have been fewer since I got Tish on my team.
So let me propose a toast: to Letitia Baldrige, who has helped me move through life with a minimum of justified muttering. Remember, when you toast, raise your glass and move it through the air a bit, but don’t clink it against someone else’s …
It’s manners out-of-sync, to clink.