Category Archives: Friendship

Off with your kit

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Is this going to be the theme of my next dinner party… How to follow the etiquette of nude dining?

For the Huffington Post 18 Mar 2014

by by Ruth Wertzberger Carlson

Once upon a time, etiquette was important: One needed to know which fork to use, which glass to sip from. Those days, my friends, are over. Now, questions of etiquette mainly revolve around how many Instagrams each guest is allowed to take during dinner.

But there remains one corner of the world where table etiquette remains a vexing and important issue: at nude resorts. And it’s a problem for a growing number of people.

“We’re seeing a rise in ‘nakations,’ especially among people in their thirties,'” says Sue Nerud, spokesperson for the American Association for Nude Recreation. Exact statistics are hard to come by, however, since many nudists prefer to remain anonymous. (In fact, several nudists in this article spoke only on the condition their names not be used.) And while Nerud said recent studies show that nakations are great stress relievers, there remain those pesky etiquette issues — which we are about to solve for you!

1. Towel On: “Naked butts at the table are a big no-no,” says travel writer and photographer David Lansing, who likes to take off his press hat (and everything else) at nudist resorts around the world. For reasons of basic health and safety, everyone brings a towel to sit on. More proof that, as fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy know all too well, a towel is “the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker” — or hungry nudist — “can have.”

2. Just Because We’re All Naked Doesn’t Mean We’re All Friends: “You should wait to be invited to a table,” says Lansing. “This isn’t like going on a cruise; even though there may be eight or 10 people at a large table, they usually all know each other, and there will be a very uncomfortable pause in the conversation if you just sit down at a table uninvited. That said, nudists are some of the friendliest people I’ve met and invariably you’ll be asked to join one group or another for lunch or dinner. But do wait to be asked.”

3. Listen to Your Mother — Use a Napkin! “As a matter of etiquette,” says advice columnist April Masini, “covering your private parts with a napkin while at a nudist event is good manners the same way not chewing with your mouth open is. We all know it’s there; we all know what’s happening; we don’t need to see everything at dinner. Just because you take your clothes off doesn’t mean you should strip yourself of manners.”

4. Some Don’t Like It Hot: “Most nudists resorts will hold traditional barbecues, and first-timers need to be careful around the ‘weenie roast,'” says Tom Mulhall, who owns the Terra Cotta Inn in Palm Springs, California, and blogs about nudism on The Huffington Post. Nor is the grill the only danger — the dinner table, too, can be hazardous. “Don’t allow your waiter to serve you a bowl of hot soup. He can spill into your lap,” notes photography instructor Eugene Louie, who visits clothing-optional resorts for self-reflection.

4. Listen to Your Mother, Part 2: “Sit up straight,” says Masini. “Good posture at the dinner table is always a way to show good breeding and good manners, but when you’re nude, slouching and elbows akimbo are not only more noticeable — they create a silhouette that is less attractive than if you have clothes on. Sit up straight!”

5. No One Will Pardon Your Reach: “Don’t reach — even if you think it’s not a reach,” says Masini. “Nude or naturist dining requires a greater margin of coordination and control. Without a bra, and with a well-endowed chest, reaching — even a little — may result in your breasts in the marinara sauce.”

6. There Is Such a Thing as Too Casual. “Casual dining doesn’t mean you can put your ankle across your knee, or your feet up on the coffee table — even if it’s an outdoor barbecue with paper plates,” says Masini. “Reconsider the view others will have while eating.” Of course, if you keep a napkin in your lap, this won’t be an issue.

7. Eyes Up Here, Buddy! “I’d say the most important table etiquette for nudists is no staring,” says Lansing. “It’s not unusual for nudists to just wrap a gauzy sarong around them as they go straight from the pool (or beach) to the table, so you want to try really hard to maintain eye contact.” Instead of discussing people’s bodies, it’s safer to talk about the food.

8. Food Porn, OK. Real Porn, No Way! Go ahead and Instagram your dinner if the resort allows it, says Nerud, but don’t shoot other guests unless they sign a photo release form.

9. Chill Out: If you’re nervous about dining in the buff, don’t be. The resort owners I spoke to all said concerns about being naked usually go away after 15 minutes. Nude dining seems naturally relaxing: You don’t have to think about what to wear (or dry-cleaning bills), and you never have to loosen your belt if you overeat. Although, actually, I can’t think of a better motivation to lose weight than the fact that everyone can see your gut (and everything else).

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Hubba bubba – chew on that!

gum

My new man chews gum. He does it, so he says, as the means to stay off cigarettes. Cute… but he quit five years ago!

It doesn’t bother me in the slightest, as he is polite and thoughtful, and rarely chews in my presence.

But, it got me wondering, what is the right etiquette for chewing gum?

I do it rarely. I find that my favourite gum loses it’s flavour within minutes. It also makes my lips dry… I don’t know why that is! But most of all, if I chew for too long, I burp (very un-etqt of me), and get a stomach ache with hunger pangs. If I chew too long, I end up with a headache too. Really, what’s the advantage for me?

I’ve never met anyone else with the same complaints.

I did try to use it as a breath freshener and way of keeping my teeth cleaner during the course of the day, just as the advertising said, but I’d be so hungry after 20 or 30 minutes that I’d end up eating something, and my teeth wouldn’t be clean anymore.

So, when is it ok to chew, and more importantly how?

Definitely, keep your mouth shut when you chew. I recall at 13 year’s old, I was on my way home from the local beach on the bus, and a bunch of girls walked past me, and one turned to me and said, “you chew like a cow”. I was mortified. Lucky it stayed with me, and I never chewed gum with my mouth opened again.

Blowing bubbles with bubble gum is for kids. So, if you’re older than 10, no more bubbles.

Make sure to get rid of your gum in the most discrete and hygienic way by wrapping in some kind of paper and putting in the rubbish ASAP. Do not swallow your gum. There are reports that children have had to have surgery to remove globs of collected gum in their bellies due to swallowing up to nine pieces of gum a day.

You should never chew gum when you’re going for job interview (even if you think the company is modern and chilled out), or when you’re eating (imagine all the mishaps that could happen?), and definitely when you’re about to get cosy with your partner (I can’t imagine how awful it would be to kiss someone with gum in his mouth).

If you’re going to chew, keep your mouth closed (as much as you can) and keep quiet.

A FEW FUN FACTS ABOUT GUM:

There are places where gum is banned. Singapore for one.. yes, a whole country. From 1992 till 2002. It was reinstated in 2002, but only with a prescription from a doctor. And only sugarless gum at that! You could get a hefty $6,000 fine if you’re caught without your prescription!

Some theme parks and other gardens around the world have banned it too, to keep the grounds clean. Gum is made of polymers, and bonds with other man-made materials.

Chewing gum burns about 11 calories per hour. But an hour of chewing would probably make your jaw sore! Just like a workout at the gym!

Chewing gum on an airplane will keep your ears from popping. Chewing gum makes your salivary glands produce 250% more saliva than normally, so you swallow more. This helps balance the pressure in your head.

Back in the 1920’s, prohibition increased gum sales because people needed to mask the alcohol on their breath. When prohibition was enacted, Adam’s Clove gum hit the market with the slogan: “It takes your breath away!”  – NICE ONE!

Well, I’m just thankful that chewing tobacco has lost it’s appeal… though, a few years ago I sat next to a man on a long-haul flight who kept smacking his lips, and after a while of chatting, he explained that he was chewing tobacco. I was gobsmacked. He didn’t try to excuse it, and declared it as bad a vice as smoking, but was hooked. He did tell me that there are now so many “flavours” of tobacco that you can actually have minty flavoured chew! The countless times he wiped his mouth with a tissue to rid it of the nicotine spit just made me want to wretch! But I just smiled and kept my mouth shut, just like a good etqt lady… but seriously….YUCH!!!!! I can’t even write the article on tobacco chewing etiquette. I’ll leave that to my American southern belle counterparts.

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Sexting….so so naughty

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I awoke to a glorious Sunday morning with Sydney sun streaming through my window. My pet pooch was stretched out in the sun. My Sunday begins perfectly.
Then a ‘ping’ on my phone. So I sleepily reach over with barely one eye open, and to my shock and discomfort, I have received my first sextext.
A friend, details to come, had sent me a picture of his naked body, all but covering his privates with one hand. The text accompanying the picture read “Do you want me to remove my hand ?”
Goodness me, was I quickly wide awake. Never had I had a sex text pic.
Now, this fellow, let’s call him Randy, has been communicating with me, on and off, for over a year. We’ve had coffee once, and met up for a drink once. I recall a goodnight kiss….but that was 7 months ago. Recently, about 3 weeks ago, we started communicating, purely by text, and maybe one or two text a week. Saying that it would be fun to catch up again, working the logistics, and some regular non-plussed banter. I think a week has transpired since our last communique….until this morning.
So, I tried to think lightly of it… I was deciding if I should goad him to remove the hand, as requested? Or should I feign shock and discomfort, or should I tease him.
As I’m trying to work out what to do, I realise that he’s sent the iMessage as a group message!!!!! I was now gobsmacked…. What a hussy!!!

Oh my goodness, what on earth has this world come to? That men are “hooking” up with several women at any given time seems quite common place…. But that should be discreetly done, non? And more importantly sharing their wares to several of us, just because he’s too lazy to send individual texts.
Then I thought that he may be useless on his phone and made a right old mess sending this to two women, and now needs to back peddle as fast as possible.

Unfortunately for him, I’m a tech nerd, and realised quick smart that he’d made the mistake and have told him that due to his lack of humility, I wouldn’t be communicating again.

To think, he’s 50 and behaving this way. What on earth are our teens doing? I feel the next article may write itself.

I don’t think I’m a prude. But I do think that if you’re going to take photos to send out, they better be cropped (all distinguishing marks deleted) and sent if you’re proud of the image.

(The photo accompanying this article is not the picture I received… I lack the gall of Randy…. Sorry ladies).

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Hey! Are you talking to me?

on the phone marilyn

So, earlier today, I was chatting on the phone with one of my dear friends Sarah H-W. Sarah and I were engrossed in interesting and poignant topics, the likes of which women get drawn to when they should be busy doing something else, but can’t resist stealing some time to get some “girlfriend chatter” into the day. This can be as simple as a ten minute catch up, to swap advice and stories and make practical plans for forthcoming events, or it can develop into an altogether lengthier conversation, that requires a cup of tea, planting yourself in your favourite chair, and solving all life’s mysteries…

Mid-way through our conversation together, Sarah and I found ourselves addressing a nasty habit that we would (naturally) never do to another. It starts off innocently enough, of course. You’re on the phone with a friend, or anyone for that matter, and you’re both entirely focused and engaged in conversation……or so you think. Then all of a sudden, you can hear through your earpiece the click clack of a keyboard being used. Sarah and I agree…. this is very very rude. How can it not be rude? It sends a clear message that the other person is multitasking, and not giving you the undivided attention expected when making phone calls.

Where things got more complicated however, was our discussion around what might be the appropriate way to deal with this situation. Should you call them on it immediately by saying “hello, I can hear you typing…”?! Or would this seem a strange admonishment to one who thinks it perfectly acceptable to type and speak at the same time. Are these sorts of people  a different species, or have they simply not yet read “etqt-modern etiquette” to realise that others might disagree with their behaviour?

It got us thinking, then: just what type of multi-tasking is acceptable?

We came up with a very short list: when kids are involved, it’s important to keep children’s safety as a top priority, but that does not include allowing your child to interrupt you during a phone conversation just to tell you they want you to make them a sandwich.

Perhaps also acceptable is to proffer a caveat before starting a conversation: as a chef, I’m often baking when my phone rings. I may be putting cakes in the oven, or watching chocolate temper… If I see that a friend is calling, then I’m happy to chat, but will preface the conversation that I might be a tad distracted due to the cooking.

But what about the phone call from the car phone? I still haven’t decided if it’s rude, or just practical, to take, or make, calls from my car phone. It does offer a bit of “quiet time” when my day can be so filled with other distractions at work or at home. But on the other hand, it also sends a message that because I couldn’t fit you into busy day, so I’m just cramming you in whilst I’ve got nothing better to do. Rarely do I have long phone calls with friends when I’m driving, but I am definitely a culprit in calling my parents to work out family logistics, and absolutely use car phone to make most of my life’s appointments, including hair salons and doctors visits.

So, how do these differ from the phone call when you absolutely know that the person is doing something completely distracting… Is the message they are sending you that they don’t care enough about you to show the right etiquette? Or are they just believing that the modern world is full of multi-taskers like them and that there is nothing impolite, inconsiderate or discourteous about such behaviour? Or maybe, they actually believe that you can’t actually hear them typing anyway?

As with so many etiquette conundrums, it seems, there is no absolute consensus of opinion around multitasking. However, after some research (and discounting the obvious solution – to buy a silent keyboard  which merely makes the culprit more clever but no less devoid of etiquette!) I discovered the following “Do’s and Don’ts” from Good Phone Etiquette in the Home Office

When the telephone is your business lifeline, good phone manners count.

By Laureen Miles Brunelli, About.com Guide

  • Don’t read texts, email or instant messages while talking on the phone. If necessary close these programs or turn off your monitor, so you aren’t tempted to read.
  • Don’t type while on the phone. Your caller may be able to hear you typing.
  • Don’t multitask excessively when talking on the phone. This would include surfing the web while talking. You may be able to do some simple tasks that don’t involve reading or writing, but it’s better not to.
  • Do try to keep the caller on the subject at hand. Your attention is more likely to wander when your caller goes off on a tangent. Tactfully guide the subject back and/orend the call professionally.
  • Don’t allow others to interrupt you while you are on the phone. Other members of the household should know your ground rules regarding interruptions. Put the caller on hold briefly (and only one time) until you can give him or her your full attention.
  • Do ask to speak to the caller at a later time, setting a time for when you or the caller will phone again.

Today’s article is co-written by Sarah H-W and Ursula Z.

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All’s fair in love… except when you’re fighting!

fight fair

 

My boyfriend and I had our first fight. It doesn’t really matter what it was about, though, my happy readers, you will support me when I say that I was right, and he was very, very wrong. But this doesn’t actually matter for the sake of this article… what’s important is fighting fair, and with, of course, the right etiquette.

Romantic arguments are different to regular arguments with friends, colleagues and/or family. Romantic arguments tend to be loaded with expectations, and more precisely, not meeting expectations of each other and what we want, and need, in the most significant person in our lives. The person we want to trust with our deepest and darkest secrets and fears, and know that they will not use this knowledge to hurt us… but along the way there can be arguments that are much less weighty, and yet, can trigger painful emotions to surface, and depending on how you deal with that pain, it can, and often does, cause you to overreact and possibly lead to the break down of the relationship.

When people fight fair, then they can take emotion out, and realise that the cause of the argument rarely is the core of the problem.

Arguments, in themselves, are negative energy. That energy is triggered by many things, like fatigue, anxiety, being overwhelmed, dissatisfaction, loss, etc. The one thing they have in common, is that they are unhappy emotions, ie, not joyful. So, if your partner then behaves in a way that exacerbates your already weakened state, then it can only make things worse.

I’m sure you can think of many times your partner has said or done something that you thought was funny. But if you’re in a negative state, then you rarely find the humour in it.

So, how to fight fair in love? Well, the best thing to do is to try, yes, try, to present your argument as a discussion, not an assault. Present how the behaviour hurt you. It’s often that men, as is the case with my boyfriend, have no clue that they are being hurtful. I don’t really know how that happens, but I’ve heard it from so many of my girlfriends reporting that their partners are oblivious to their behaviour, that now I just consider it plausible.

Also, do try to take the emotion out of it. It’s difficult sometimes, yes, most of the time, but given that they are oblivious, then being rational and explaining the triggers and the effects tend to be enough. Going on and on about it normally makes them become cranky. So now they’re in the negative state.

It does seem that men only want to be told these things once… going over the same thing tends to make them deaf (another confirmation from my girlfriends), though, weirdly, it’s precisely because men continue to behave the same way that we actually do need to repeat ourselves… but therein lies the answer… they are deaf. Oh, dear.

Humour aside, Psych 101 clearly states that the only time to communicate so that you are really being heard is outside of an argument…. during quiet and relaxed moments.

So, etqt declares that the only real way to fight fair, is when you’re not fighting at all. So, what’s the point.

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To tag, or not to tag?

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At a fun dinner party last night, the topic of Facebook was raised. My friend, who must remain nameless, was recounting how she had been photographed in an unflattering pose during a recent holiday with close friends.

She is an avid horse rider, and after a long ride, she was resting on a log, with her legs relaxed, but slightly laid apart, and her hair, though clean, had helmet head, her friends decided to take some photos, as souvenirs.

All of this did not bother my friend in the least, but what did bother her, is that on returning home from her weekend away, she switched on her computer and decided to see how the rest of her world was faring on Facebook, only to find this less than elegant photo of her, and her friends declaring how fantastic a weekend they had had.

Though my friend has a very relaxed nature, she was taken aback that such a photo could so easily be published, without her approval, let alone without her acknowledgement.

Her name had been tagged, so she did have the option to untag herself, but that left her wondering how many photos there were of herself that she didn’t even know about. And also why a friend of her would publish photos that were not attractive.

This got me thinking about how people do easily publish photos of friends, or family, without their consent, and even if we do tag them, we feel we have ownership of those photos, so have every right to do whatever we please with them.

I’m definitely a culprit of this behaviour. I’m always taking snaps with my iPhone whenever I want a souvenir. I also use Facebook as a means of sharing my life’s activities with my friends, family and their extended friends. I’ve set up the privacy controls to limit strangers from accessing my page and photos, but, to be honest, I don’t really know if the privacy extends to those who I tag in my photos.

So, I decided, that I’d better check the correct etiquette when it comes to publishing photos and tagging on my social networks like Facebook, tumblr, Twitter,  instagram, etc.

On doing research about Facebook, and how it differs to other social media, is that we consider Facebook profiles our portrayal of ourselves. We upload status’s and photos in the hope to define ourselves to others. We choose how much, or how little, we want to share. Some people like to share their social experiences, whereas, some don’t. Some, like me, have many friends in distant countries, and who like to publicise to their friends what’s going on, in a way to keep the geographical distance seem less distant. And the level of privacy varies amongst individuals just as much as any other factor with communication in our lives.

Having said that, it’s still considered bad form to tag friends in photos without their prior consent. If the circle of communication were closed, it might be more tolerable, but given that it’s impossible to contain the reach of anything on the internet, it is just considerate, thoughtful and yes, the right etiquette, to leave all parties untagged until they do so themselves.

I have just checked my daughters Facebook page, and it’s not surprising, but still disconcerting, to see how many of her friends (of which I have met about 25%), have tagged her in photos. Thankfully, I do know where she is at any given time (she’s 13 years old), so I’m never surprised by the parties, but I am surprised by the number of tags to other teenagers Facebook pages.

Tumblr and instagram posts seem to be driven by the account holder. Yes, comments can always be made that may upset you, but typically you are the one to instigate the conversation, so you have the control of what people see about yourself.

Twitter is more like a news feed, and also typically driven by you, the author. It does seem to be more about getting information about others, or just sharing snippets of information about yourself. Less weighty than it’s cousin Facebook.

Maybe it’s generational, and maybe there are variations to this issue that I need to consider. I’m sure that in a year of two, there will be media coverage of some famous person who’s privacy is invaded to such a degree that laws will be implemented to protect the rest of us.

Till then, keep discreet, stay considerate, and keep tuned in here. Above all, if your friend is in your photo, let them know, and let them tag themselves if they feel inclined.

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“He loves me… He loves me not.”

he loves me he loves me not

I love flowers. And receiving them even more. They are a simple way of making the recipient feel special, whether for a special occasion or just because you can.

You will never offend anyone by sending flowers.

I recently celebrated a birthday. My daughter raced to the florist in the morning, and brought home a bunch of magnificent white lilies. I don’t care how many people say that they expect receiving them, it still makes you feel happy.

Today, Valentine’s Day, is collectively the one day where flowers outdo any other festive gift. It surpasses even the chocolate of Easter.

So, I thought it just apt to write about flowers, and what type of flower suits what type of occasion.

Roses, red roses in particular, are the flower of love. Though all roses denote love, the red rose symbolises romantic love.

Yellow roses are to be sent to friends or co-workers. Pink roses are more about a secret love. White roses are for an innocent love, for family or family occasions, or even for funerals.

I discovered that carnations are for young love, though I’d say that it’s far less common nowadays than in the eighties, when carnations were at the height of their popularity.

Daisies are for loyal love and ideal for Mother’s Day. And giving your daughter lilies seems to denote purity and sweetness. And chrysanthemums are for the bonding of friendship, though probably not ideal for romantic loves.

In the British Debrett’s Guide for the Modern Gentleman, 2009, reprinted 2012:

Flowers are the perfect impromptu present, but follow these basic guidelines to ensure that you get it right;

MIXED BOUQUETS can look cheap if they aren’t of a decent size and well-styled. Instead, buy just one type of bloom, or go for just one colour.

GREENERY is also important – it’s there to bulk up the bouquet and complement the flowers.

DON’T PANIC and just pick the first blooms you recognise. Consider her tastes and style. Classic or contemporary? Minimalist or vintage? Talk to the florist. Explain the style you’re after and the occasion.

BE PREPARED to spend – you can never economise on flowers.

BUY HER FLOWERS on her birthday, on Valentine’s Day on your anniversary and on no particular occasion.

USE THE CARD that accompanies the bouquet to its full potential. For example, include details of a surprise date: “See you in the bar of the ABC Hotel at 7pm”; tell her something you find hard to say: “Thank you for being there for me’; state the obvious: “I love you”/

NEVER ORDER cheap arrangements online; never buy bunches from the supermarket or the garage; never buy carnations or chrysanthemums (the kiss of death); never send flowers as an apology without some verbal backup.

If you want to offer flowers to the host of a dinner or party, it’s best to have the florist deliver them earlier in the day of the event, so that the host has time to arrange them, so as not to be distracted when her guests are arriving. As to the arrangement, it is ideal to ask the florist what is appropriate. They will arrange something either by colour and/or by what is available for that season. Of course your budget also is a big factor, but these days to send a lovely bouquet of flowers, you would be spending about $100 (Australia dollars, or USD). It’s very easy to spend more than this. You can check if the florist has pre-prepared arrangements, as they will tend to be a easier for the florist to pack, rather than arrange on site, and may have a reduced price by the end of the work day.

Online sites for flowers are also becoming very popular and easy to use, and terrific for ordering flowers as gifts for long-distance or international deliveries.

Or going to the local flower markets is always fun, and something of a novelty if you get up early to see the action.

I once picked lavender in a field and was heady from the scents and had to mind all the bees swarming around the pollen. It was lovely to make my own lavender pouches for my dresser drawers.

If my partner came over with a bunch of flowers he picked himself, either from the flower market, or even just as he was walking home by the side of the road, I would be tickled pink… or red. But really, any colour would be wonderful.

Happy Valentine’s Day from the romantics at ETQT.

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Hey kids, what’s with the middle finger!!!

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I have a thirteen year old. She is a contemporary. She has diverse interests, and also mainstream addictions with her mobile phone and apps like Instagram and Facebook, and lots I can’t recall. Last night she hosted her first party. Yes, she’s had lots of birthday parties, but most of them included lots of parents, lots of entertainment in the form of clowns, pets, rides or bouncy castles. This was her first party where none of these would factor. We did hire a great DJ, but otherwise it was all very simple.

They had a fantastic time. She invited 70 boys and girls, who stood around sheepishly in their respective gender corners for about an hour, and then miraculously merged into a sea of dancing bodies for another two and a half hours. There was lots of soft drinks, pizzas and junk food. Perfect combination for sugar zealots. Parents were not asked to join in, but to stay a safe distance in the front of the house.

She melted into her bed afterwards with a smile stamped on her face. This mum was pleased.

This morning we perused her photos. There were over 800 taken (phew!). Most of the photos were of happy faces. Young teens enjoying themselves without a care in the world. 450 of these photos made their way to a Facebook album.

But why, oh why, do these kids need to stick their middle finger up for the photos?

I just don’t get it!

I know these kids. I see them every day. Not once have I seen them strike these gestures out in the street. Nor when they meet each other, nor when they speak with anyone for that matter. I didn’t see them use this gesture amongst themselves during the party. And yet, one in every four photos included that dreaded middle finger. Most often it was the boys doing so, and yet, there were a few girls who repeatedly offered it up too.

I got to thinking what is it that makes people, including kids, behave like this. The correct etiquette is obvious… but just in case, it should never, under any circumstance be done. Or should it? On further research, I started looking at various hand gestures, and which ones are acceptable, which one’s aren’t. As with most rules of etiquette, it really depends on culture and geography.

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It’s quite amazing how many gestures have more than one meaning. Above image taken from a past issue of Conde Naste Traveller’s magazine.

I’ve discussed this with my children at length. I’ve explained to them that gestures like these are disrespectful. It is likely that most people make these gestures after being provoked. But, nevertheless, it’s much more appropriate to remain silent. Silence has much more impact. It also gives you time to gather your wits, and if necessary speak more specific and deliberate words.

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Friends with an Ex

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Yesterday, I attended the memorial service of a very famous sports icon. It was a moving event and heart-breaking watching his young children speak of him with such dignity and grace.

I had done the research on the appropriate etiquette, so participated with a silent and sombre air.

During the service, I sat, unbeknownst to me, next to the divorcee of a very well-known Australian entrepreneur. She waved to many people, and at one point giggled how one particularly famous man she waved to had physically gotten out of shape since their relationship over fifteen years prior. She was a bit disturbed that he waved to her, and declared that she would prefer that they both pretend that they didn’t know each other. She then asked me if I thought it was possible to remain friends with an ex… an ex-husband or an ex-boyfriend?

I have been very fortunate that I have remained on exceptionally good terms with my ex-husband. It seems we actually have put our children first, and been able to let go of our ego’s and get on with our respective lives; it would seem that we are the poster-children for The Modern Family!

I seem also to be happy to continue building, and not dissolving, relationships with ex-boyfriends. Don’t get me wrong, there are some who have been banished from the face of my world. They seem to be the ones who have too much ego, and lack kindness. Does make you wonder why I dated them at all.

Back on track… I figure that just because I can’t have a romantic relationship (meaning with all the loaded expectations and tiptoeing of beginnings, and negotiations of disappointments, etc.. you get the picture, ie a monogamous, committed relationship), doesn’t mean that I don’t like and enjoy facets of our friendship and connection.

I have one friend in particular that I dated about three years ago. Yes, after our break up (if you can call it that – we had only been dating a short while), we did have a cooling off period. There does seem to be a quieting of the senses for a while, akin to recovery, or maybe a little postmortem mourning that’s necessary. But once that was over, it seemed such a shame to lose all contact with him when we had so many things we liked to do together or discuss. We started going to the theatre together, or attending functions when we didn’t have a date. We didn’t talk about other dates. I think that was more out of respect for each others feelings than for any hope that we might rekindle our romance. But I’m thrilled that I have such a good male friend.

But when is it impossible to keep a platonic friendship with an ex? It seems that if there is residual resentment, it’s unwise to try to continue any connection or friendship. And if either party still fancies the other, then it’s probably hurtful to that person. Sometimes the kindest way to end things, is just to end them completely.

But back to the gorgeous woman I met yesterday. She insisted that it’s impossible to have a real friendship with an ex. I discovered that she is one of the most prominent, and successful, divorce lawyers in Australia. I imagine that her career, as well as her much publicised romances, and divorce, must have led her to only keeping girl friends.

Well, then there’s always Taylor Swift…. I wonder how many of her ex-boyfriends want to remain friends after she writes songs about them?

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Keeping your own secret garden

secret garden

In France young ladies are taught by their mothers and grandmothers about decorum. We learn about seduction by watching other women behave. We watch how they tilt their head a certain way, how they sit with their legs crossed at an angle, and how poised they are, when engaging in the art of flirtation. This may seem old world, but if you observe the interaction between men and women in France, or most European countries, you will notice the seduction plays out before your eyes.

One thing that does not happen, and will never happen, is to share everything with your mate. Even if a woman is with her partner for life, she will keep some secrets, le jardin secret (fr), from her mate. These things will include things like farting, shaving, plucking hairs from unfortunate places. These secrets do not limit themselves to physical things either. They can include past secrets, yes, the obvious past lovers, where such history could directly interfere with the success of your current relationship. It can also be some things about herself that she shares with no-one at all, a book of poems that she needs to keep private, a talent that she doesn’t want to share.

Some of these can be embarassing, or humiliating, or if divulged could affect the outcome in the new relationship.

One of the most wondrous experiences a couple can share is to know without a doubt that the bond of the affection is solid, and yet that they each have secrets that neither need to know, as it won’t affect their love and it actually makes you feel strong.

Mystery is powerfully attractive. Sometimes knowing someone too well also breeds over-confidence and, sadly, complacency in your relationship.
It’s a fine line to have the confidence of a solid romantic relationship, without knowing absolutely everything about them.

Leave some mystery.

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