I had a funny experience a couple of nights ago. I got a call from a woman in my graduate program that I hadn’t seen for several months. She said she had a question about thank you notes. I sputtered for a moment in confusion. Had she found out about my blog, where I’d recently posted about being several months behind in writing thank you notes? To confuse me more, this is someone who had given a present for Phoebe, and to whom I had not yet sent a thank you note. Was she asking about that? Hey, dude, where’s my note? (Not that she’d ask that way. She’s very polite. Also Japanese. Can’t picture her saying dude.) In a moment, I remembered that I’d gotten a message from her a couple of days before saying she was going to a job interview. Aha! She must mean thank you notes that she would be writing. Indeed, this was the case. She was calling to ask me about the etiquette of writing post-interview thank you notes. But let me repeat and rephrase, she was calling to ask me about the etiquette of writing thank you notes. Me. I laughed maniacally. Somewhat to her confusion.

I guess I know a fair amount about etiquette somehow or another, and have reasonably polished manners. (I mean, when eating in a fancy restaurant, I know which is the proper fork to use when skewering the last piece of potato off your companion’s plate when he’s looking the other way.) But it strikes me as funny that someone would ask me for advice on etiquette on a matter where I’ve been so terribly delinquent.

Anyhow, if anyone out there has some etiquette questions for me, lay ’em on. I’m thinking of writing a column. (And by the way, no, I haven’t yet finished the damn thank you notes I owe. So don’t ask. That would be rude.)

8 thoughts on “mismanners

  1. Dear Mismanners:

    When is it appropriate to swear in a thank-you note? And which particular taboo words are appropriate?

    Please provide a corrected version of this letter:

    Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith,

    Thank you for the damn teddy bear. Phoebe will certainly get many hours of enjoyment playing with it, until its damn eyes fall off and become a choking hazard.

    We greatly appreciate your generosity, and will remember you fondly on our trip to the damn emergency room.

    John, Alejna, and Phoebe

  2. Please note that the above letter is merely representative, and does not refer in any way to any specific present Phoebe has received in this, or any other, holiday season. However, preparedness is essential, and I wish to fully understand the correct etiquette to be utilitized should this situation arise. I’m afraid that an off-the-cuff response may lead to shocking impropriety.

  3. Dear Mistress Manners,

    When you are walking in the rain, and a luxury car whose driver is undoubtedly distracted by the demands of his/her cell phone and/or iPod and/or breakfast hits the puddle at the side of the road just right so as to thoroughly soak you, is it more proper to scream “douchebag” or “asshole” at them? Also, is it worth it to throw your cup of coffee at them if this negates your reason for going out in the rain in the first place? Thank you for your time.


  4. Whew. I thought you were talking about me. But I am not Japanese. And I got a thank you note.

    P.S. Mismanners: Since I too have problems with writing timely thank you notes, is there ever a sufficient period of time that passes such where you should not write a thank you note? That is, is it ever _impolite_ to write a thank you note, given a long enough span of time?

  5. jwbates, bs, ericalee, jeanerz-

    Thank you for your comments and questions. You may look for responses to your queries in an upcoming column in the New York Post. However, that is not where you will find them. Actually, you won’t find anything worth reading there. So don’t bother looking.

    Mismanners/Mistress Manners/Ms. Mismanners

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