Oral Hygiene Queen

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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Second-Hand Etiquette

I'm a sucker for second-hand etiquette. Tell me that something that I already do (or that I want to do) is socially correct, then say the magic words - Emily Post - and I'll accept your words as gospel. Then I'll go on to tell other people. "Emily Post!" I'll say, like I read it in black and white in my very own dog-eared copy of her 1922 book, Etiquette, which I neither own nor have ever laid eyes on.

My Old Man and I just mailed off our wedding present to his sister and her new husband, who were married last October 30th, and whose wedding we attended. I had meant to get the gift in the mail earlier, but I felt pretty good about sending when we did. After all, we have a year after the wedding - according to Emily Post - and we got it there within four months.

But how do I know that Emily Post says that you have a year after a wedding to send the couple their gift? Um, someone told me. Like eight years ago. And though I don't remember who it was that told me, I absorbed that information and made it part of my personal philosophy. Our of curiosity, I checked the Emily Post website, and I found out that Emily Post's spokesperson (some random person named Peggy Post) claims that this is not true! "Contrary to a current rumor that you have a year to send a gift, it really should be sent right away or within three months of the wedding." Three months! Come on! How about four?

Well, I guess I don't really give a rat's ass what Emily Post (or her great-great grand niece) says, especially if what they say does not correspond with habits that I happen to cherish. (Bring a present to the wedding? Or send it in advance? I don't know if I can get it together to do that and procure a new pair of pantyhose for the event, plus arrange a clean shirt for my son. I'm only human!) At the same time, though, I don't want to offend my loved ones, especially during such a festive time of their lives. So what do you think? Orange recently asked her readers what our personal cash limits for wedding gift spending are. What are your personal time limits for wedding gift sending? Have you bought into the you-have-a-year "rumor"? And if so, what can we do to get turn this rumor into law? I personally was under the spell of this belief back when my Old Man and I got married, and I must say it was kind of nice having gifts trickle in months after the blessed day. Especially since I felt no need to get pissy about those gifts being late.

I also recently heard (from a friend who is both Southern and gay, two things that somehow give him more etiquette cred in my book) that it's untrue that the most mannerly thing to do when served with a plate of hot food is wait 'til everyone at the table is served. He says if the food is cold, wait. But if it's hot it makes everyone else uncomfortable to watch your food cool as you wait for them to be served, so you should begin right away. I believe he even invoked the name of Post at some point during this conversation. And of course I bought it wholesale. It makes sense! And it gives me permission to do what I already really, really want to do. I don't even want to look into whether it's technically correct.

But what do you think? About the wedding present window, and about hot food?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Snow Day(s)

It's 4:30 in the afternoon and I'm still in my pajamas. Hell yes. My kind of Tuesday. Yes, folks, here in the wintery wonderland of the Midwest, we have a snow day. And the best kind of snow day, the kind that's called the night before. Wait, no, even better: the kind that's followed by yet another snow day called the day before. We have a snow day tomorrow, too. Snow days. Some things are just sweeter in the plural.

Actually, the whole family was in our pajamas 'til nearly 4:00 PM, when my intrepid Old Man got suited up to go outside and shovel some of the snow heaping up on our driveway and front walk. I offered to help but, bless his heart, he turned me down.

snow day

Then O. got suited up to join him, frolicking in the glittery drifts.

snow day 2

I'm not ashamed to say I didn't leave the house. And I don't plan to. After all, what's the rush? Tomorrow's another snow day...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Doing My Civic Duty

I have jury duty this week. When I’ve mentioned that fact to various friends and colleagues, a number of people have asked whether I tried to get out of it. It never occurred to me to do so, I guess because I think of it as a civic duty, like voting. I’m intelligent, reasonable, and fair-minded; if I were on trial, I’d want me on my jury. So I’m going ahead and doing my civic duty.

And so far, it has totally paid off. I was told to report to the county courthouse, which just happens to be a brisk five-block walk from my house, at 9:15 AM, about a half an hour later than I need to be at school on a normal Monday morning. After I was checked through security (just like the airport, except that I got to leave my shoes on), I read a book for a few minutes as I waited for the juror orientation to begin. An hour-long orientation, then they read the list of jurors being called today. My number was not called, and so I was essentially free for the rest of the day. It was just past 10:30 AM. “When we report your days on duty to your employer, we do not give them hours, just which days you served,” the juror-orienter told us, “so it’s between you and your conscience whether you go to work this afternoon, or go home.” Hmm. I checked with my conscience, and it seemed to be nudging me toward the home option. But just for good measure, our wonderful orienter added “Now, me? On a cold day like today, I think I’d go home and stay warm with a good book. But it’s between you and your conscience.”

My conscience is clear as I sit and enjoy an unanticipated day off. After all, as some venerated personage once pointed out, “they also serve who only stand and wait.” Why should I disappoint my afternoon sub and put to waste all my carefully laid sub plans? I’ll call the juror information number at 5:30 to see if I have a trial tomorrow, as I’ve been instructed to do. And in the meantime, I’ll just bask in the glow of doing my civic duty.