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Party etiquette

I am no Miss Manners, but I flinch and wince when I see poor etiquette.

When introducing a man and a woman, I would speak to the woman first, "Martha, this is James," and afterwards introduce the woman to the man.

When introducing an older person and a younger person in which there is obviously a generation gap, I would speak to the older person first: "Mr Chang, this is Martha."

When a man gets introduced to a woman, he should stand up. But it's not necessary for a woman to stand up. Similarly, a much older person can remain seated.

Today I was quite incensed to witness a man who remain seated while a lady was being introduced to the seated guests.

I was even more irritated to see this man walk between two people leaning towards each other, deep in conversation so that he could get to the food table. He should have tried a different route, or if none available, ask to excuse himself.

Later the same man touched my shoulder to interrupt my conversation with the lady who was earlier introduced to him. She and I were both aghast that he didn't apologise. Was he unaware, ignorant, or inconsiderate? Perhaps his behaviour was considered normal in his country.

And of course when I mentioned that we shouldn't eat all the hot dumplings, he immediately threw back the one he just picked up - back into the common tray. Now who would want to touch his kuties?

Is it no wonder that I'm no longer in touch with my friend who instinctively put her dirty feet on the living room table when she came to see me? Or threw her worn tissues on the side of the bed she slept on, eventually piling up the germs? And how many times had she come to my dinner events empty-handed and not even offer to help in the kitchen? I don't understand whether it's me being too picky or that some people just never learned how to behave.

The English, in general, are very well-behaved when it comes to accepting invitation and thanking their hosts. I'm always relieved to receive a thank you card after a party I've hosted. These are the ones that will remain on my guest list for the next party.

3 August 2002 Saturday - unsettled

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