IQ-tips timewarp trip: Television

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You guys seemed to appreciate last week's IQ-tips on remote control etiquette so much, it gave me an idea: how about we take a journey through the etiquette of our past, an IQ-tips timewarp trip. Many of you have probably heard of Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette, but have you ever read it?

If only for the laughs, it's worthy of a full week's worth of posts, I thought. So, in place of my usual themes (Tuesday Turnip, Thingamajig Thursday, etc.), I'll be spending the better part of the week dipping into Vanderbilt's classic guide to gracious living, starting today with some tips from her chapter on Home Entertaining, more specifically, the use of television.

Remember now: we've just turned back the clock to Nov 13th, 1950!

The hostess with a television set should never assume that her guests are willing or eager to look at it. It is safer to assume that callers came to talk with their friends, not to enjoy their television. They probably have a set at home they could have turned on.

If unexpected guests arrive during the course of a telecast that the family is obviously enjoying, the hostess may say, "We like this program and look at it each week, so I hate to shut it off, but perhaps you would like to see it? If not, let's go into another room and any of the others who care to may join us."

It is certainly not fair, for example, to drag father away from a championship boxing match, if that's what he's glued to, to help entertain Mr. And Mrs. George, who just dropped in from the next block. What probably happens is that Mrs. George and the hostess retire from the din and the two men have their television.

If the hostess, on the other hand, has television in mind as a means of entertaining expected guests, she should tell them so in advance. If they consider a whole evening of watching television lost, they have an opportunity to refuse the invitation. They wouldn't hesitate to say they don't feel like a movie. They may even be quite frank and say, "We hardly ever turn on our own set, expect for a program or two we occasionally enjoy. Please ask us some other time when you're planning something else."
Guests who do accept a television invitation are ill-mannered, however, if once settled they keep up a continuous chatter that prevents the others from hearing what's going on. Trying to keep up conversation while watching television is impossible they should be still and look and listen or remove themselves thence.

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November 13, 2006 - 5:08am
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