Chris Forhan

(1959 - / Seattle, Washington)

A Child's Guide to Etiquette


Never put your personal spoon in the common jelly bowl.
Spread your napkin upon your lap. Do not grasp.
Eat what meat your fork can get to; the rest of the lobster must be given
up for lost.
A girl must lay her silver down while still a trifle hungry.
She must not eat unchaperoned.

A boy does not take a girl’s arm on the street. The street is no place for
devotion.
He must not allow his mother to lug the coal up or sift the ashes.
If he does, he is a cad. A boy is shiftless, a vulgar bounder. He is not
excused.
He wears a dark suit, but not in a theater box. In a box a tuxedo is worn.
In a box a boy keeps his thoughts to himself.
A girl keeps her hat on until she is seated. The theater itself wears no hat.

Snow is a hat worn by mountains, the tallest of which do not remove the
hat in summer.
Sunlight settles like a shawl upon the hills and dewy berry fields.
The sun is not a wag or hail-fellow-well-met. It does not loaf or shirk.
It keeps its face funeral-ready, as you should.
Away you go in the car. Father and Mother. Puff and Baby Sally.
Away you go into the country. Spot and Jane.

Jane is a proper girl. She avoids provincial phrases and slang, as yep and
boy friend.
She says not yes but yes, Mother, and arranges rosettes in the icing.
She wears a high-collared simple dress and tarries amid the lilac, on her
head a crown of stars.
She may stop dancing when she wishes. A boy must dance until the music
ends.
He must scold his bold friend.

A boy is clothed in a purple cloak, is brought up on charges, agrees to
them with the air of one much pleased. He raises his hat to his
father.
A girl, in the presence of her father, removes her breasts.
She removes the washbowl’s plug so the waste water drains completely.
A boy need not detach his hands, but he must not thrust them into his
pockets.
A clothes brush must be packed for the train, and a plain dressing gown.

Away you go. You are on a train. You are speaking with courtesy and
reserve in the dining car.
You are slipping off your shoes. You are leaving them for the porter.
The porter will pocket his tip discreetly.
The porter will polish your shoes in the night.

Submitted: Monday, March 19, 2012

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