Sometimes I like to read books about manners. I think it has to do with my facination with human behavior and the age old dihlema of whether one ought to look out for the one or the many --give into society and its demands or make their own rules. Such thoughts are stuffed full of things to chew on and rich flavors for fiction. So sometimes I read books about manners, wondering how, why, and if any of them are actually followed.
One such book was Judith Martin's Miss Manner's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior. A section of it described in detail the Victorian ritual of having afternoon tea with freinds ("Afternoon Tea" not "High Tea". High Tea was for the poorer classes, served at six to replace lunchen and dinner rather than at four as a social event and snack between those meals.)Ladies of rich houses would choose one or two days a week to be "at home" for tea and their friends would know they could stop by any week during those hours to say hello. Likewise one the days a week they were not "at home" for tea they would visit two or three of their friends who they knew were.
Blogging has always reminded me of this. We browse through our reading list and visit various friends to see how they are doing. Some days we make a lot of visits and some days only a few. We know which ones are likely to be "in" with new posts and have semi scheduals in which others know we will be "in". And we get to chat a little and be social about something "normal" people don't know how to talk to us about.
Another section of Miss Manner's Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior discusses cocktail parties. Miss Manners doesn't like cocktail parties as much as she likes afternoon tea. She feels it is a more rushed, new fangled way to make sure all of one's friends are mingled with from time to time. Everyone is invited all at once inseat of continuously throughout the day. The parties are held once every six months or so instead of every week and not nearly as much qualitiy, leasurely conversations are had because everyone is talking at once.
I'm not sure I share Miss Manner's opinion about coctail parties (partly because I am not of the higher social classes who had tea in the Victorian age and throws cocktail parties in this one) but I notice a similar difference between blogging and twitter.
I'm new to twitter. I'm still trying to figure it out. I haven't decided if I like it yet but what I do notice is that much less is said. More people are reached at a time but the messages must be brief and to the point (you know that student who always got marked down for essays that are too long? That was me). When I get on to check my feed I feel so overwhelmed, like everyone is trying to talk to me at once. Like I'm in a room full of chatter and it's so much harder for me to decide who I am going to visit with today. If I am going to meet new people or stay in the corner with my champaigne and chat with my friends. Or if maybe I would rather have stayed home today and curl up with a book by the fire . . .
I don't think I would do very well at real cocktail parties.
But like I said, I'm still figuring out twitter. I will probably eventually find a plan of attack that works for me.
So what about you folks? Have you ever had afternoon tea? Do you like cocktail parties? Do you prefer twitter to blogging? What are your methods of exploration? should we adhere to the needs of the one or the many?
And now for the reason you really decided to have tea with me this afternoon . . .
The ARC of MONARCH and signed copy of SILVER PHEONIX will be sent to J.
Here is her winning entry:
She sat alone, feet dangling off the edge of the world. The wind tugged at her hair, teasing long strands of spun gold from the braid hanging down her back. She could feel tears trailing down her cheeks, leaving cool wet tracks in their wake, but she made no move to wipe them away. She preferred to embrace her grief.
It would be so easy, she thought. So easy to scoot forward several inches, to keep scooting until she toppled off the precipice and ceased to exist. But that would go against everything he had taught her. She could hear the words as clearly as if he’d been speaking directly into her ear. “The best things in life are the hardest. Fight for what you want most.”
She closed her eyes and inhaled, holding tightly to her most secret desire, visualizing it as if it had come to be. She exhaled, releasing her doubts and inhibitions on a tide of carbon dioxide. Carefully, she scooted backward and stood up. She had some fighting to do.
Congradulations J! Very well done.