Etiquette

My parents had and have many old friends and they both also have a gift for making new friends. And often, growing up, we’d have visits from people. Those visits were often very fun. My mother would make delicious meals, we’d use the China they were gifted for their wedding, and their friends always were (and are) genuinely interesting people.

They were people who spanned the social brackets and who came from literally all over the world. But they all were generally kind, intelligent and…fascinating. Sitting in our living room with my parents drinking coffee and talking with their friends and them was a wonderful education.

But…that doesn’t mean there weren’t the occasional snafus.

Once, one of their female friends who was in her 40’s or 50’s and hoping to find a good husband to settle down with…brought a…colorful companion. He drove a Chrysler Sebring convertible with a 90’s car phone. This was the early 2000’s. And I think…he was rather proud of that car. He also was trying to write a theological book but had no formal training and instead he believed God was directly revealing things to him. When my father, who had a degree from a seminary, tried to discuss the subject of his book with him, this fellow became very condescending and yet had little idea what he was saying, unfortunately for him. Needless to say, my father was not impressed.

And then…he hit on me. Yes. This 50 or 40 something man…who came with my parent’s old friend hit on me – a 19 year old. In front of his girlfriend. “You must have lots of boyfriends.” he said ogling me. (And there were other worse things uttered I don’t wish to even think about) I cannot begin to describe the level of disgust and repulsion I felt.

After that I started to show my open disdain, which, ironically, only made him think I was playing hard to get. Ha! It was…awful. Thankfully I managed to never be alone with him.

And the kicker was when we found out how impressed our dear old friend was with this fake. “He’s related to (insert name of famous old etiquette writer from the US in the 1950’s)!” she said very brightly. (I don’t want to use the lady’s actual name for safety reasons.) “Oh-” he tried in vain to cut her off and started flailing his arms around to silence her. My family was intrigued.

It’s one thing to actually be directly related to people, associated with people or in a family and another to use some distant relation as a cheap way to “class yourself up” a bit. Almost everyone has someone famous or amazing they’re distantly related to.

Now, I have to quickly add that, on occasion, I’ve had some people assume (or pretend to assume) I’m pulling the same trick Mr. Sad-Sebring did when I discuss my family. Some are unaware and some are just arrogant or insecure twats or trolls. Of course, I’m not (as I’ve discussed about a million times at this point).

To his credit he did admit that it was a very distant relation. “It was way, way back that the families were connected.” he said. I believe it was something like his great grandfather’s aunt’s sister-in-law’s brother who was this writer’s great uncle? And I don’t believe I’m exaggerating.

Anyway, looking back at it, I feel a weird mixture of empathy and extreme dislike for that man. If it was my daughter I would have told him to leave and warned my friend not to bring jackasses to my house again who’ll hit on my teen daughter. But, I’m not as good at keeping friends. Ha!

…We never did see him again though.