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#81 - Being Aghast

#81 - Being Aghast

Being Aghast
Price: Insufferable Indignation

Everyone knows that the world is full of tidbits that are surprising and unusual. Most of these fall under the category of things that you would never do; these include wearing a t-shirt to a job interview emblazoned with the slogan “You don’t buy beer, you rent it”, streaking and tattooing one’s face. When an average person is told that this happened, they will respond by looking up from their laptop long enough to lazily say “sounds like an idiot” or “what a douche bag”. Such a reaction is not enough for the rich. They are bound by a secret oath to become incensed at the indignity of such acts, cover their mouth, open their eyes wide and proclaim “well I never”. When you see this reaction, you will recognize it as a rich person being aghast

This melodramatic reaction dates back to the 13th century and literally means to be struck with terror, amazement or horror. While the rich typically suppress all emotions, being aghast is a special exception to the status quo and is closely aligned with getting insanely angry when their chef overcooks their egg yolk. As rich people “know better” than the common man and woman, they will use this display of astonishment to convey the seriousness of the cultural digression they have witnessed. Certain situations may call for the addition of a full gasp but typically the rich believe that quiet disapproval alone sends a subtle yet poignant message to the offending party thereby changing them for the better. Unfortunately, regular people never notice such passive displays because the way that they deal with something offensive includes speaking up or starting a fistfight…sometimes both!

Despite the surprising ineffectiveness of changing the world by appearing shocked, the power of being aghast is significant. Should you succeed in mastering the art of conveying indignation towards everyday occurrences you will surely succeed in making friends with the “other half”. While appearing surprised may seem easy, knowing what should astonish is the true talent. Peruse this short list; unjust war, wearing gloves lined with baby seal pelt, buying day-old roses and American states with no minimum wage laws. If you were aghast at buying day-old roses, you are a natural. The rest make for interesting small talk but will not raise eyebrows among the upper crust. For a top shelf display of this art, visit a rare book dealer and tell them that you ran over a puppy on the way to their store. Now tell them you know of a first-run Tennyson stored at 73°F and see which illicit a stronger reaction.  Am I mad, that I should cherish that which bears but bitter fruit?

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Hand Kissing

#21 - Hand Kissing

Hand Kissing
Priceless

Rich people love uncommon greetings. Hand kissing is a rare gesture among uncouth, lower classes and a distinguishing trademark of the wealthy. The simple gesture of bowing to a downward facing hand speaks volumes about one’s stature and while the upper crust will rarely actually kiss the hand, there are certainly situations where lips will grace the skin. To integrate fully with the rich, comfort with hand kissing is essential.

Most associate hand kissing with The Godfather, religious figures and romance but for the rich it is a gesture of chivalry although charm does play a role. Important figures make hand kissing a calling card of sorts. Jacques Chirac, former president of France, was well known as a hand kisser. In England, a newly minted prime minister will kiss the Queen’s hand as an expression of the monarch’s trust in her subject. This gesture of course is not reserved for high-ranking political figures; it abounds in social circles.

Like the air kiss, a hand kiss is an excellent vehicle to express your class and charm but bestows an air of individuality within your social circle. While I wouldn’t recommend pulling this out of the toolkit in business circles, kissing the hand of a new acquaintance at the amfAR New York Gala, as an example, is fitting. A well-placed hand kiss can appear as opulent and as high brow as arriving in a Rolls Royce Phantom. Despite your elevated stature among elegant women, expect a healthy dose of mocking from the gentlemen in your next foursome at Sebonack but if it is good enough for the King of Spain it is good enough for you.

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#18 - Air Kiss

#18 - Air Kiss

Air Kisses
Priceless

Rich people love to greet each other with air kisses. While regular people are satisfied with a firm handshake, a fist pump or a high five, these are beneath the upper class. To ensure that you comfortably fit with your new social group, follow a few guidelines and you will never find yourself the object of social scorn.

For those that did not grow up around young men kissing octogenarians, take note. The first time someone swoops in to greet you with an air kiss it may seem as though you are back in grade 2 when Cindy made her move by the bike racks. You may feel an overwhelming sense of panic and discomfort…fight through it. While your instincts tell you that an awkward social moment is brewing, a simple touch of the cheeks, pursing of the lips and it will all be over. That is, unless you manage to head butt your host and give her reason to visit Dr. Weinberg for more rhinoplasty.

Master the proper technique and you will never feel at odds. First, feign enthusiasm over seeing your acquaintance. Cup her hand with both of your hands say “My god, how long has it been?” Next, smile brightly and lean in as though you are about to kiss. Finally, tactfully dodge her lips, touch cheeks and make either a kissing sound with your lips or say “mwah”. Heed the volume of your kiss as your lips will be next to your host’s ear and you risk an enormous faux pas if you deafen your companion. Like shampooing, repeat as necessary. You will likely be expected to touch your right cheek and then left before carrying on about the fabulous weekend that you had in Paris, London, The Hamptons, Geneva, Zurich, Madrid or the Seychelles.

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