Monday, October 1, 2018

How many of us have lived a Kavanaugh/Ford social society smear saga in which the aftermath lasts a lifetime?

As a lifetime survivor of a social society smear through association, this week's Judge Kavanaugh/Dr. Ford scandal has rocked me to my core, again, but this time as an adult.

As a teenager, having privately suffered through a smear on my entire family, the memories and hurt have all floated up, back into my life like a leaky kitchen sink faucet left on as the details of this hearing and its rising aftermath are slowly coming out and up. Drip. Drip. Drip. These happenings did not bother me terribly as a teenager, as one is living one's life in the present and looking towards the future, but at 57, this smear campaign bothers me terribly as I look back on the arc of my own life and my family's lives.

So, to understand my family's situation, we'll start with a quick bit of family history. We were New Yorkers. Mayflower, not Southern Jamestown like most in Richmond. For 30 years, my Father worked his way up to V.P. of a large corporation. He traveled on a plane Monday through Friday. Two weeks straight if he was on the West Coast. He retired from this corporate life in 1971 and opened two Rent-a-Car franchises. He worked 17 hours a day, 7 days a week for 2 years & just as he was paying off his small business building debt, the oil crunch of 1973 hit. We went bust. Sold our lovely brick home from 1905 with the 68 year old rose garden. Moved into a rented Victorian home. Pretty bones, but with plaster walls and ceilings falling down, and no heating or air conditioning. No more vacations or weekend visits to the grandparents in New York. No more piano, ballet or horseback riding lessons. My Mother had to stop volunteering 5 days a week, and went back to work for the first time since before she married my Father in 1956. There was little to no money. I owned 1 skirt and 2 pairs of pants. We did not own a hairdryer. I was 14. Two years later, for my 16th Birthday, instead of a Birthday cake, I spent the day loading all my Mother's furniture and belongings into a U-Haul. She was divorcing my Dad and moving to New York.

Soon, my smartest in her class & popular little Sister, at 11 years old, started acting out. Doing poorly in school. Dressing differently. Behaving very badly. Drinking grain alcohol and smoking cigarettes with her new found set of friends. At 14, she started doing drugs and behaving promiscuously and showing up at these upper middle class house "Keg" parties. The rumors started instantaneously. High society is small and like your family. They know most things about you & you love them, but they drive you crazy. Most of all, the rumors of untoward behavior, especially from a bankrupt and divorced family, gets around like a house on fire, as we all live in the same neighborhood, go to the same country club, school, and church.

As a High School Senior from an elite girl's school, I attended only one of these Summer house keg parties, which always centered around the yearly Debutante Season. I was not allowed to be a Debutante because my parents were divorced. Didn't like beer anyway, and we couldn't afford the expense of being a "Deb." The most important reason I never went to a second keg party, centered around my desire to preserve my family reputation.

These Summer keg parties were well attended by 17 and 18 year old Juniors and Seniors because they had cars and could drive. Every weekend, they were held in a different house (whosever parents were out of town) in the same close neighborhoods surrounding the country club. The keg was always in the back yard, so most of the kids were outside. One would only go inside to use the downstairs half bath. Every one of these lovely upper middle class homes had at least one downstairs bathroom. There was no reason whatsoever to venture upstairs in these homes. It was almost considered odd or rude, unless you were steady dating one of the hosts of the party or were close friends of the host.

Simply said, back in the late 1970's and early 1980's, in a pre "Sex And The City" society, there were only 2 kinds of girls. Those who did and those who did not. Sex was not muddled like it is today. If you were steady dating and a rich Debutante with a good family, you would be forgiven any sin. However, if you were from a bankrupt and divorced Northern family, people would gossip about you anyway and especially if you exhibited any improper behavior, at school or otherwise.

So, when I saw Judge Kavanaugh pull out that calendar from 1982, I gasped. I had calendars exactly like those, as my working Mother kept a daily planner too. I played field hockey, babysat, cut grass, had an after school and weekend job, participated in charitable walks and dances, went to church, cleaned the house, did yard work, and when off on a Saturday, got together with friends, listened to music, and put together puzzles. Totally normal High School stuff. My parents called me their "good egg."  My lifetime friends and I were on the "fringe" of all the cliques typical for High School. We got along with everyone. As an ADHD teen, my grades were mostly  "B's" and "A's." I was graduated with a silver medal in English. Got in early decision to a great college I was told was absolutely above my reach. Moved to New York City after college. However, in 1987, after all my friends were married off, and when my Father was diagnosed with COPD, I moved home. Spent 1 day a week helping him run his successful new business. By this time, I had been gone from Richmond for 9 years.

At this point, my little Sister's bad reputation was epic in a negative and destructive way. Every cocktail or Christmas party I attended began with the question: "What's your Sister up to?" No one cared about her. They just wanted a talking tid bit of juicy gossip to fill their narrow luncheons. She had moved out West. She had to move away. Our family had been further ostracized. My Father said to me he hoped my Sister's wild reputation had not harmed me. "Of course it hadn't," I thought. People knew me. I was the "good egg." It took me a few years of dating to figure out it had damaged my reputation. My Sister's wild reputation had been smeared all over mine. Even in 1998, at 37 years old, when it was announced I was engaged, a grand dame drove out to my fiancee's (now husband's) house, to tell him not to marry me. "Those girls are wild" she said.

Who knows how the Judge Kavanaugh/Dr. Ford hearings will turn out. Yes, there is the legal aspect to consider, along with the political and social. Legally, Judge Kavanaugh, a sitting judge, probably did not act properly, but Judge Kavanaugh was thrust into the political arena by accepting an offer for his "dream job." What was one of the happiest days of his life turned out to be one of the worst. Welcome to "High Society." If Judge Kavanaugh is not confirmed, he will lose his 12th Circuit Court job, his livelihood, and his entire family will suffer. Their social reputations will be ruined. Forever.  Furthermore, his daughters' reputations will suffer, for the rest of their lives. It will effect their dating lives and possibly their marriages and futures. What to do? Without fully understanding the dirty politics of the process, Judge Kavanaugh is risking his entire future, and the future of his family, by accepting interviews for a job he has aspired to and worked towards his entire life. If he fails to be confirmed, he will lose everything. Everything. His job, his house, his family reputation and his future.

My Father used to say: "The higher you get up on the Corporate ladder, the more it's about the way you part your hair." Yes, high society is pretty, privileged and utterly brutal. All I know for sure is: Some people spend their lives sinning. Other people spend their lives paying for everyone else's sins.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Yes Y'all, Southern Manners Are Steeped Like Sweet Tea in Lovely Tradition - Especially in Columbia, SC

Hey there y'all! How is your Mother? How's the family?
We live in Virginia, but visited Columbia, SC last week, and noticed an even deeper Southern manner, steeped like "Sweet Tea" in long standing tradition.
Yes, etiquette & manners in the South, and the Deep South are uniquely lovely.
How many of y'all are visiting NC, SC & GA beaches this Summer? Driving down? Stopping along the way?

Here are a few Southern tips:
  • When in the South, even when passing a stranger on the sidewalk, make eye contact and say "Hello." To everyone. Southerners speak on the sidewalk. "Hey" or "Hi y'all" will do as well. Also make a gesture of a small wave. It shows respect. 
  • As your Mama taught you, Southerners respect everyone. Always.
  • Your Mama said: Never talk about religion or politics. It only ultimately leads to drunken brawls. Southerners raised right do not participate in drunken brawls. 
  • Speak softly everywhere you go. The public street is not your college campus quad. 
  • The air is thick in the South. Even the night air. Everything is slow. So, slow down. This is the point. 
  • After it rains, because it is so hot, steam rises up from the roads like fog. So, go slow. Go slow anyway, it's the South. No hurry. No worry. 
  • Always ask: "How is your Mother?" or "How's the family?" It shows respect, and Southerners do not like talking about themselves. Southerners always ask the other person how they are and their family are doing.
  • Use your magic words in abundance! Please, Thank You, May I and You're Welcome should be used all the time and in daily conversation, even if casual.
  • Try to only listen and not to give an opinion, (& especially not a religious or political opinion) but if you must, give it diplomatically and quietly. Southerners do not yell (remember, it only leads to that ugly drunken brawl thing).
  • If you order Tea in a restaurant, your server will ask "sweetened or unsweetened." Just know that if you order "Sweet Tea" it will be ICED, and will contain LOTS of sugar. Very sweet! If you want hot tea, you have to say the word "Hot" because, the South is usually about 98 Degrees from May to November, so no one orders "Hot" tea. 
  • Grits are simply, boiled corn kernels. Hominy Grits have the cereal germ removed. Grits are better left plain with butter. They are good with cheese too. They are also really good with shrimp.  They are not so much good with complicated sauces. Southerners do not like their grits swimming around in fancy red & brown nouveau cuisine sauces.  
  • If you borrow something, return it in due time with a small treat added. Southerners never return an empty container. Because it's empty. What's the nicety in that? Fill it with a little treat, candy, cookies, or recipe. Say: "I've been having this container in my car for a week and I need to return it to you." "Been havin' " is the preferred phrase.
  • Don't criticize other people or complain. EVER. It's tacky. The only acceptable public complaint is of the weather: "It's hot outside." Period.
  • In the South, if it is not proper it's tacky. Don't aspire to be tacky, because, well, that's just tacky.
  • Always dress up, just a bit. It shows respect to yourself and others. Long khaki's at night for men (not shorts). Women: always have on lipstick & mascara. You never know who you'll run into at the grocery store, and you WILL eventually run into a friend of your Mother's at the store.
  • Always hold the door. Always give up your seat while on the Bus for an elderly person or a pregnant woman. 
  • Yes, "Ma'am" and "Sir", albeit recently under scrutiny for smacking of a world "Gone With The Wind" still does show respect, and especially for older persons. It is how they were raised. The custom is to simply show respect. One can also say: "Yes, Mr. Baker" as well.  
  •  Saying "Miss Kathy" or "Mr. Jim" to a stranger, for example on a customer service call, shows respect. It is an old fashioned custom, and this nicety is still practiced. 
  • Do not chew gum like a cow in public and do not ever smack your lips.
  • Do not touch your head, especially at meals or Afternoon Tea. Do not blow your nose at the table. Do not pick your teeth in public.
  • If you need to excuse yourself from the table, say: "Please excuse me." No explanation needed. DO NOT say: "I have to go to the bathroom" as this sounds like the "act of." Yuck. 
  • Do not show distaste for food. If you do not like a certain dish, when receiving it, say: "Thank you" and pass it along to the next person at the table.
  • Always bring a Hostess gift. Never show up at any event, party or house empty handed. Southerners do not like empty things, plates or containers. 
  • Southerners love sitting on the porch. All the time. Winter and Summer. All day and all evening. Some men I know, grew up sleeping on the "sleeping porch" with their Brothers (screened in porch, with a space heater in the Winter) as the girls get to sleep upstairs with the window air conditioner. Many homes in the South still do not have central air conditioning, as it is an expense that is just not a priority. Education, Charity work, and the Debutante "Season" are priorities. 
  • Southerners sit on the porch, preferably with "Sweet Tea," Lemonade or a cocktail after Five o'clock, but it's always Five o'clock somewhere in the South. Relax! It's the South. It's hot. It's ONE cocktail, if you are of age. If you are not "of age" you may wait (and wait & practice your patience, as patience IS a virtue) for the cherry from your Daddy's Manhattan cocktail, or a strawberry from your Mother's champagne, but you must patiently and quietly wait. Its good for you to practice waiting. If you are of age, and break protocol and get drunk, you have to sleep in the horse trailer with the other bad boys, unless you are a girl, in which case, you'll have to deal with the wrath of your Mother. 
  • Ladies NEVER get drunk in public or get drunk in private, because, as Rhett Butler said: "if you drink in private, eventually everyone finds out." This shows self pity, desperation or despondency in a self serving way, and tacky behavior such as this from a Lady is just not proper. Seek treatment instead.
  • Southerners speak softly, deliberately and slowly, and finish their sentences. So, simply listen slower.
  • At school, do not bully other children. Again, it shows selfish interests, and is not polite. Southerners are always polite and never say bad things about other people because it would embarrass the other person, therefore, embarrasses you, yourself! Southerners are leaders, and leaders always make others feel special. 
Basically and interestingly enough,  old Southern manners are very similar to old European manners. (refer to this column if need be). 
One does not have to come from or have money to have manners. 
Good manners will take you everywhere. Enjoy! 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

The Most Important Manner in South Korean Society is "Saving Face."

With the most homogeneous population in the world and just a bit larger than Indiana with a population of about 70 Million, "Saving Face" in South Korea is the most important manner of the social mores. South Korean society is modern and chic, yet quiet and traditional, with beautiful old European manners. Here are a few travel tips:

  • Never embarrass a South Korean. "Saving face" is paramount in their society. So much so that even with a question about directions, if they are not sure, they will give a wrong answer or any answer they think you want to hear, rather than answering "I don't know" or answering "no" to a request, as this would be classified as "losing face." Also, answering "yes" may not mean 'yes.' It may mean "I understand" or "I hear you." Again, "Saving face" is of the utmost most importance in South Korean society.
  • Never confuse a South Korean with a Chinese or a Japanese person. Very insulting to South Koreans. Best to ask: "Where are you from?"   
  • South Korea is a Republic with a National Assembly and the President having a 5 year term.
  • GDP is about $12,000 USD per capita. 
  • South Koreans are known for their very hard work ethic, respect for the elderly and family duty. 
  • Education is highly valued. The English language is taught in most High Schools.
  • Do not use "slang" language, do not curse and do not joke. Jokes do not translate well into other languages.
  • Natural Resources are coal, lead and hydro power. 
  • Known for textiles, clothing, shoes, accessories.
  • Religion is about 30% Christian, 15% Buddhist. Confucianism is widely practiced regardless of religious affiliation. 
  • Hot, humid Summers, cold dry Winters. Pack clothes to layer.
  • Dress is casual chic. Ladies wear skirts or dresses. DO NOT go sleeveless. Never go barefoot. DO NOT wear slacks. Gentlemen wear dark suits and white/light blue button down shirts. 
  • Bargaining in all stores is done, except when the sign says: "One Price." 
  • The sole of the shoe is considered an insult. When sitting, cross your legs at the ankles. Do not show the sole of your shoe & do not swing your leg or cross your legs at the knee. Simply try to keep your feet on the ground. 
  • Do NOT talk about politics. 
  • Do not criticize anyone, or your travel friends, even in jest, in public. This act is damaging to one's "Face." Instead, talk about Korean 5000 year old accomplishments.
  • Keep your Hotel card with name and address with you at all times and your prescription drug information with you always. 
  • Laughter can mean embarrassment. Women cover their mouths when smiling. 
  • Do not stare at someone. Mother's use staring as punishment when their children are bad. 
  • Speak quietly always. Do not laugh loudly or yell. South Koreans are a very reserved society. 
  • Do not flail your arms around and do not use hand gestures. Some hand gestures, like pointing your finger, or raising a finger for a waiter, are considered to be obscene. Raise your entire hand to summon a waiter.
  • Don't touch anyone. Sometimes you will see 2 friends who are girls holding hands. This is common and acceptable. 
  • Do not walk down the street while eating in public, and walk down the left side of the sidewalk or stairs.
  • Do not chew gum in public. Do not blow your nose in public.
  • South Koreans enjoy their meals. Be punctual for any meal. 12 courses meals are common and all served at the same time. If not a 12 course meal, soup is served first, then appetizers, rolled meat & vegetables in pancakes, then the main course, and dessert. Coffee is served with cream & sugar. 
  • The elderly and children are served first. The Host sets the pace. Do not touch anything until your Host begins. Pour liquids for others and they will do the same for you. 
  • It is common to fill another person's glass, then your glass. 
  • Never show distaste for any food. Don't place your spoon on the table (cleanliness issue).
  • Leave some liquid in your glass, or food on your plate if you do not want a refill.
  • You may be seated next to strangers in any restaurant. Don't worry, you are not expected to talk to them.
  • To get the attention of a waiter, raise your entire hand, and say: "Yobo Seyo." 
  • Always allow your Host to seat you. The place of honor is a seat facing the entrance because the entrance, or door, is where all the power is located in any room.
  • A traditional Toast is: "Gonbae." ('Gone-bay')
  • After dinner, women and men socialize in separate rooms.
  • You may be given a hot or cold towel to wash your hands before a meal.
  • Never drink out of a bowl. Never pick up food with your hands.
  • The Father is the most important person in the family and the most revered. Men go through doors first before women. 
  • Koreans do not talk much during meals. Pass dishes with the right hand, and you may support your arm with your left hand.
  • Koreans do not form lines. They lightly push and shove in crowds. Be politely aggressive or you will never get anywhere.
  • As reserved as the Korean society is, it is surprising, but Koreans do ask personal questions. This shows an honest interest in your life.
  • Remove your sunglasses when speaking to or meeting someone. 
  • If you have blond or red hair, expect people to stare at you and touch your hair.
  • Declining a compliment shows humility, so don't say "Thank You." 
Magic Words:
  • YES = Ye or Ne
  • NO = Anio ('Ah-nee-yo')
  • THANK YOU = Kamsa Hamnida
  • PLEASE = Chebal
  • HOW ARE YOU = Annoying Hasimnika 
  • GOODBYE = Annyonghi Kasipsiyo
Traveling is the best thing we can do for ourselves. It broadens our perspectives on life, human nature, and civilization. Relaxing resets the soul. Vacating one's life, if only just for a little while, does wonders for one's stress.

But traveling can be exhausting, frustrating, and potentially dangerous. Don't rush. Do not over schedule yourself. Take your time. Hard to do it all. Always take care to pay attention to where you are, your surroundings, people around you, and where you are going next. 

Enjoy your vacation. Enjoy local foods and culture. Remember to relax and enjoy. 

Monday, June 11, 2018

What Type of Handshake Do You Have? Is it the Proper Continental Grip?

What does your handshake say about you? Is it strong like an ox or limp like a fish, or that of a Diplomat?

A proper handshake should connect in the 'V" between one's thumb and forefinger. Not too strong, and not too weak. Just the right connection, referred to as the Continental Grip.

Here are a few other tips on types of handshakes:

  • The Bone Crusher, or I'm angry. I once had a gentleman shorter than me crush my hand so hard, he broke my antique white gold ring. The shank was thin, and it snapped into my finger & blood spurted everywhere. Guys, DON'T shake the hand of a lady quite this hard. No reason for that! 
  • The Glove Handshake, or over-confident. Politicians are famous for this type. They also sometimes then put the left hand on their right elbow. Men of a "certain age" are also famous for this handshake with women. Don't do this type of handshake with women. There is no need. 
  • The Finger Tip Holder, or the early grab. At first this type of handshake may seem as if the person did not get a good enough grip on you. Some "Luncheon Ladies" of a "certain age" were taught to shake hands like this back in the day by their Victorian age Grand Mothers. 
After 2 shakes, loosen your grip, and then down. Don't ever yank your hand away. This gesture would signify disdain. 2 shakes and down. You're done! 

Yes, First Impressions Take 5 Seconds.

"A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ever heard it takes 5 seconds to make an impression? It does. Why? It is a visual impression and an impression of one's comportment. How one walks into a room. How one stands. The demeanor of the body language. One's aura. Is it that of a King, a grand lady or a bum who doesn't care?

It takes 21 days to start a pattern. Practice makes perfect.

It takes 100 days for the pattern to become automatic. A "habit."

It takes 30 days to forget a message. This is why you must practice, practice, practice.

66% of a message is forgotten within 24 hours. Only 34% is retained.

It takes 8 days of consistent reminding for 90% to be retained in 30 days. This is why it is important to practice, practice, practice your new skill, knowledge or behavior.

Practice does make perfect!  

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Melodious Singapore and its Old European Manners. Menikmati!

Tropical Melodious Singapore. A heavily populated Country about the size of Chicago with just over 3 million people, and old European manners. So here are a few tips:

  • Don't point. Don't point at anyone with your chopsticks either. It's considered rude.
  • Don't stare. Staring is used for punishment by Mothers when children are bad. When sitting, don't swing or point your shoe at anyone. The sole of the shoe is considered unclean and is an insult. If you must, when sitting, cross your legs at the ankles, but best to try & keep both feet squarely planted on the ground.
  • Smiling or laughing is used often as a cover for embarrassment. 
  • Don't touch your head. The head is sacred.
  • Don't walk around in public with your hands in your pockets. Placing your hands in your pockets is VERY casual. Not formal at all, and not used in formal business meetings, unless one is done with business. A man with his hand in his pocket for a prolonged period of time looks like...well, I'll leave it up to y'all to conclude. 
  • Dress is smart casual chic. Men wear trousers always. No shorts. Collared shirts. Ladies dress modestly. Conservatively. Only the stereotypical "Ugly American" tacky tourists wear shorts and have pieces and parts hanging out. 
  • Speak softly. The world is not your college campus. Don't be the stereotypical loud "Ugly American." 
  • Don't make hand gestures. Don't pound your palm on a table, as this gesture is considered obscene. Better to stay away from all hand and finger gestures all together. 
  • Learn a few "magic words." Hello, please, thank you, good morning, etc. Malay is the official language. Selamat ('suh-lah-mat') = Hello. Selamat pagi ('pag-ee') = Good Afternoon. Selamat Petang ('puh-tong') = Good Evening. Sila = please. Terima Kasih = Thank you. 
  • Singaporean society is steeped in Confucian traditions. Disciplined. Loyal. Respectful. Religions break down as follows: 30% Taoist, 30% Buddhist, 20% Muslim, 10% Christian, 4% Hindu.
  • Compliments are sometimes declines as humility is important.
  • To get the attention of a waiter, raise your hand, not finger.
  • Always wash your hands before eating. This act is considered polite.
  • When eating out, allow your Host to order. The Host starts the meal first.
  • Dishes are all placed on the table at once and shared "family style" by all.
  • Sometimes a spoon is used to eat along with your fingers from your right hand to eat. NEVER use your left hand to eat. The left hand is used for the toilet. The left hand is considered an insult.
  • Even numbers signify good fortune.
  • Never give a gift of odd numbers & especially not the number 13. Bad luck.
  • Use BOTH hands to give someone else a business card, or gift, and accept a business card, and gift, with both hands. Do NOT then put the business card in your back pocket. Yup. the pocket again. Stay away from pockets!
  • Never give a government official a gift. This act is considered a bribe.
  • Wrap gifts elegantly, but never in black, blue or white. White is a funeral color. Red is a great color. Red signifies happiness and prosperity. High quality gifts are preferred, and in even numbers. Never give white flowers, or flowers in an odd number. Do not give chrysanthemums as they are the traditional funeral flower. Acceptable gifts are candy, cakes, scotch, brandy, perfume or something from your home Country or region (i.e. Virginia peanuts). Do not give beef, pork or knives.
  • Carry your prescriptions for any medications with you. There are strict laws regarding drugs and prescriptions. 
  • Don't litter, jaywalk or spit on the sidewalk or chew gum in public.
Basically, use your best manners, be quietly observant and take in your experiences. Eat local delicacies and enjoy! Menikmati!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Salty Master Salt

Ever heard the expression: "To sit above the salt?"

Back in the day, sitting "above the salt" meant you were sitting in an honored position between the host and the master salt.

This most important container, as salt was hard to obtain and very expensive, was placed in the center of the long dining table. Some "Master Salt" containers were, in very fancy households, sterling silver  outside with a cobalt bowl, and sterling silver feet like a bathtub. Salt is corrosive to silver, so explains the cobalt bowl.

The Host as the head of the table and family, always sat at the head of the table. As per tradition, the Guest of Honor was always placed to the right of the host.

So, if you were between the host at the head of the table and the master salt in the center of the table, you were "above the salt!"