I’d like to think that my invitation to the garden party is still in the mail. Most likely, one look at the mustard stain on my t-shirt was enough to convince the Rockefellers to cut me from the guest list.
As a change from our usual lunch out, my friend and I decided to go to a tea room. Not wanting to stand out like Jerry Falwell at a gay pride parade, we went online to look up the proper etiquette for high tea. We found the British royal family’s site, which gave extensive and snooty mannerly advice.
Without it, I would have looked like a plebian weenie, sloshing my sugar around in my cup; leaving my napkin on the chair when I went to the loo; and forgetting to extend my pinkie while sipping. Unfortunately, we went for onesies, and they closed at eleven thirties. Obviously, the tea room was not up on their royal etiquette. Damn! I had put on make-up and everything.
Years ago I had the opportunity to take tea at Clairidges Hotel in London. My daughter got up to go to the loo and (gasp) left her napkin on her chair. As she went to wash her hands, a lady jumped in front of her at the sink. Bekki was all set to be annoyed, when the woman redeemed herself by filling the basin and stepping aside for her. When she returned to the table, I had to explain the concept of bathroom attendants. Since I had always assumed that they were an urban myth, I rushed into the bathroom to see the woman for myself. I left my napkin on my chair, but at least I wasn’t crass enough to ask her to pose for a picture.
I would like to host a tea party of my own, but if you come to my house, you will get a chance to see up close why I should never be allowed to entertain guests. When my parents recently came to visit, my dog barked at them for the first two days, and the cat peed on the sofa out of agitation. Where would people sit? My dining room chairs were put together with an allen wrench and prayer back in the seventies. They are suitable only for anorexic super models with exemplary balance and grace.
I totally blame my mother for my etiquette ignorance. She taught me that thank you cards are only for wedding presents and RSVP’s are for losers. Just the same, I hope you’ll accept an invitation for tea at my house. Prepare to drink it out of chipped coffee mugs. You’ll get a 100 calorie pack of shortbread cookies and a paper napkin. I’ll probably clean the loo before the party. All I ask in return is that you don’t leave your napkin on your chair, and don’t wear the t-shirt with the mustard stain.