Crappy Old Book of the Month was Miss Manners’® Guide to Rearing Perfect Children: A Primer for Everyone Worried about the Future of Civilization (Judith Martin, Atheneum, New York 1984). Unfortunately, this month slipped away from me and I only posted two measly posts about this delightful– and truly funny–book.
I am a fan of Miss Manners. In fact, Missy is named after Miss Manners! When I brought Missy (who’d been given the name, Aubrey, at the shelter) she had no manners whatsoever. None. I thought a fine way to begin her training was to give her a name to live up to.
Miss Manners’ popular books were written in the ’80s– radically changing times for someone so interested in manners and etiquette. But Miss Manners was up to the challenge! Take this for example from the introduction to her Guide to Rearing Perfect Children:
On the subject of manners for children, many adults believe that the opposite of “polite” is “creative.” Poor little mannerly children, they think– how suppressed and inhibited they must be. Actually, the opposite of “polite” is “rude.” If you think that rude children are better off emotionally than well-behaved ones, you are in luck, because there are so many of them around. What an increasingly joyful world it is getting to be as they all grow up and take charge.p. xiii
How can you not laugh at that? Especially 30 some years on!
In the first chapter, Theory and Skills, under the subhead, “For the Enrolled” (parents of all stripes) she discusses The Perfectly Appointed House.
To keep a house in which every object, down to the smallest bibelot, is in perfect taste is in shocking taste. No house can truly be elegant unless it contains at least a half dozen atrocities of varying sizes and uses. This must not include residents, though.
Such an apparent attack if madness on the part of Miss Manners is not to be confused with the unfortunate notion that a house should have the look of being “lived in,” or as Miss Manners terms it, “slovenly.” If disorder were indeed sweet, we could solve the teenage summer employment problem by leasing adolescents out as decorating consultants.p. 47
One more from the
Crappy Old Book of February. Replying to a Gentle Reader’s letter inquiring about baby / wedding gift-giving to a poor young couple whose first child will arrive before the wedding date, Miss Manners says,
The fun has really gone out of that traditional pastime of counting the months between the wedding and the baby’s birth.p. 104
If you are wondering, the solution is to treat the two events as separate, “no matter how closely they turn out to be related… . Why don’t you send them a photograph album with a card saying, ‘With best wishes for your happiness,’ and let them figure out whether it’s a wedding present or a baby present?”
Search Worldcat.org to find Miss Manners’ Guide to Rearing Perfect Children: A Primer for Everyone Worried about the Future of Civilization at a library near you. Or get it at Amazon.