IT'S NOT that Miss Manners always speaks kindly of others, heaven knows. She enjoys riveting everyone's attention at the dinner table as well as the next person. However, Miss Manners can find better things to sneer at than evidence of compassion in others.
For example, Miss Manners loves to sneer at people who believe that the only valid human emotions are 1) guilt and 2) the desire for publicity; and that therefore an expression of any other feelings must be a fraud.Especially if the feelings are expressed by a person wearing a fur coat.
So would everyone please stop being rude to Eartha Kitt.
It seems that every time she comes to Washington, Eartha Kitt is jeered at by inmates of such institutions as the White House and Lorton Reformatory and society at large, because she expresses concern for others.
When she was invited to the White House by First Lady Lady Bird Johnson and asked to discuss problems in America, she was called offensive for using the opportunity to discuss problems of America. When she was invited to Lorton Reformatory last weekend and told instances of prison abuse, she was considered offensive for responding with sympathetic tears.
Miss Manners fails to see why everyone assumes such behavior is hypocritical. Perhaps it is because First Ladies and prisoners don't see anything wrong with their institutions and are offended if others do. In that cases, they should plan their social events differently. As for the other critics, they seem to feel cheated that she does not live up to her stage character. Now, Eartha Kitt's stage persona - selfish, greedy, luxury-loving, heartless - is something everyone seems to be able to trust. MISS MANNERS RESPONDS
Q: What is the most efficient way of eating an artichoke?
A: For thse who want to eat efficiently, God made the banana, complete with its own color-coordinated carrying case. The artichoke is a miracle of sensuality, and one should try to prolong such treats, rather than dispatch them speedily.
An important part of sensuality is constrasts. First pull off a leaf with a cruel, quick flick of the wrist, dip it in the sauce and then slowly and lovingly pull the leaf through the teeth, with the chin tilted heavenward and the eyes half closed in ecstasy.If the sauce drips, a long tongue, if you have one, may be sent out and down to get it. When the leaves are gone, the true subtlety of the artichoke reveals itself: a tender heart, covered with nasty bristles. To contrast with the fingering, there should be a sudden switch to cool formality. The fuzzy choke should be removed with dignified precision and a knife and fork, so that the heart may then be consumed in ceremonial pleasure.
Q: May I wear a long dress to an afternoon wedding?
A: Certainly, and best wishes to you my dear for future happiness. (Miss Manners assumed you are the bride. A wedding guest would of course not dream of wearing a long dress in the afternoon).
Q: Why must married people be separated at dinner parties? I enjoy sitting next to my wife.
A: Oh, good for you. Perhaps you can put your dining room table against the wall and sit together in the privacy of your home, if you both consent. At dinner parties, married couples must be separated because they tell the same stories, and they tell them differently.
Q: At a formal embassy dinner, I was gesturing to make a point, and accidentally knocked the meat tray from the waiter's hand, splattering an entire line of guests, including my dinner partner, who was wearing white. I feel terrible. Is there anything I can do to make amends?
A: Yes, Renounce your social ambitions, and lead a life of humility and charity. You might just as well, under the circumstances.
Feeling incorrect? Address your etiquette questions (in black or blue-black ink on white or cream letter paper) to Miss Manners, Style Section, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.