Judith Martin, born September 13, 1938, was a journalist, covering social events at the White House and embassies, before becoming a theater and film critic. In 1978, she changed direction and began writing on the subject for which she is most known today, what she calls “heavy etiquette theory.” As Miss Manners she brings her broad knowledge of the history and customs of human social interaction to modern polite behavior. This she does with an authoritative and often sarcastic tone.
“Should you happen to notice,” says Miss Manners, “that another person is extremely tall or overweight, eats too much or declines convivial drinks, has red hair or goes about in a wheelchair, ought to get married or ought not to be pregnant — see if you can refrain from bringing these astonishing observations to that person’s attention.”
“There are three possible parts to a date, of which at least two must be offered: entertainment, food, and affection. It is customary to begin a series of dates with a great deal of entertainment, a moderate amount of food, and the merest suggestion of affection. As the amount of affection increases, the entertainment can be reduced proportionately. When the affection IS the entertainment, we no longer call it dating. Under no circumstances can the food be omitted.”
“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?”
Dear Miss Manners: Should you tell your mother something if it is important when she is talking to company? I am six.
Gentle Reader:Yes, you should (after saying “Excuse me”). Here are some of the things that are important to tell your mother, even though she is talking to company:
“Mommy, the kitchen is full of smoke.”
“Daddy’s calling from Tokyo.”
“Kristen fell out of her crib and I can’t put her back.”
“There’s a policeman at the door and he says he wants to talk to you.”
“I was just reaching for my ball, and the goldfish bowl fell over.”
Now, here are some things that are not important, so they can wait until your mother’s company has gone home:
“Mommy, I’m tired of playing blocks. What do I do now?”
“The ice-cream truck is coming down the street.”
“Can I give Kristen the rest of my applesauce?”
“I can’t find my crayons.”
“When are we going to have lunch? I’m hungry.”
September 13, 1813
John Sedgwick was a teacher, a military officer, and a Union Army general in the American Civil War. During the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in 1864, he famously reassured his men: “They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” Seconds later he was killed by a Confederate sharpshooter’s bullet.
Inspirational Quote for 9/13/16