Sunday, January 22, 2006

Please, no flash photography!

I am rapidly becoming my mother.

My mother is southern, but she moved to New York when she was eighteen, and quickly adopted the relationship creed of those above the Mason-Dixon line: I only want to know you *this* much.

There is my public mother, and there is my private mother. And never the twain shall meet. A dinner guest in my mother's house NEVER: ascends the stairs to the bedrooms, opens a kitchen cabinet to retrieve a glass, answers the phone. These are things that family members do. What constitutes a family member? If you have to ask, you aren't one.

While I don't know of anyone who ever felt uncomfortable in my mother's house (on the contrary, most people feel pampered and waited upon), I grew up thinking that my own house would be a bit more loose. People could get their own soda out of the fridge. Check. People can answer my phone. Check.

People can wander my house. Uh.... no.

Today, I was reading Miss Manners, the woman who inspired my cheeky blog name, and whose feet I would gladly sit at and listen to any day. While I may not be a etiquette perfectionist, I love the topic. I own Emily Post's book, and I can tell you which fork you need to use (politely, and without making you seem like the caveman I might be thinking you are. Ahem).

Miss Manners' topic today was housewarmings, and when they are and are not appropriate (New house? Yes. Recently moved into your parent's basement? NO). She indicated that a housewarming was really the only appropriate time to show off said house. Said she: "With any luck, that will head off the house tours that tedious hosts insist on giving their guests on other occasions, or that nosy guests may cheekily demand."

I love her.

Don't get me wrong. My close friends had better ask to be pointed in the direction of my new picture/shoes/armoire/paint job/what have you, or risk my assuming they are no longer interested in me. And vice versa. This is what friends do. It's not my best buddies which get me: it's everyone else.

My husband and I throw a lot of parties, some intimate, some larger. Before each, he listens to me rant about having to tidy the basement and the guest room, because I'm never sure if there will be someone who insists on my playing tour guide. I really, strongly, prefer that a guest in my home stay on the same level which accommodates the front door. And when visiting, I never ask to see the 'rest of the house.' I buy decorating magazines by the truckload. This satisfies my desire to see houses. I do not want to gawk over yet another platform bed slept on by someone who does not know my middle name.

My friends and I talk about having 'refrigerator privileges'. When you have fridge privs, you are family. You don't have to wait for a 'tour', because you knew about the new lampshade when it was just a twinkle in my eye, and you march to the appropriate room to view it, knowing you don't need permission. You pour your own wine, and stuff the munchies you brought into the fridge yourself.

For everyone else: please. I am the daughter of a woman who is a third North Carolinian, a third New Yorker, and a third New Jersey resident. There is nowhere in that combination that you should expect I'd want you to see my master bathroom toilet. Have a seat, and are you thirsty?

Grab yourself something to drink. Make a phone call or two. But stay the hell off my stairs. Thanks.

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