When I was sixteen, the homeliest, surliest, meanest, most arrogant guy in my sophomore class did something that changed my life forever.

We were all filing out of homeroom one morning and he and I happened to reach the door at the same time. We both stopped. Then he took a step back to let me pass and said, “After you.”

I immediately started daydreaming what our wedding would look like.

That’s when it started. My complete fascination and adoration for all things civilized.

Hold a car door open for me and I’m yours. Write me a note and I’ll name my first baby after you. Give me your seat on the bus and we might as well make a baby right there. Somebody hold my purse.

I don’t read Vanity Fair for their politics or the glossy Annie Leibovitz photos, but because occasionally they feature someone like Carolina Herrera or one of the Vanderbilts, lounging gracefully in their Pre-War apartments, a tea tray of silver on the left, their posture careful and perfect, staring at the camera with a measured gaze, speaking with perfect eloquence and deference. Always respectfully, with grace. True elegance lacks condescension. It elevates, but never separates.

It thrills me and calms me at the same time. I can’t explain it. Maybe I was Emily Post in another life. It helps explain my love for Southern gentility. And Reese Witherspoon.

People nowadays look at proper etiquette as outdated, irrelevant and elitist. It’s such a shame. Teach your little girl to excuse herself as she leaves the table and now she can effortlessly charm a room. A teenage boy who says “sir” and “ma’am”? Please, thank you, God bless you, excuse me, how do you do? I do quite well now that we’re living so graciously.

Whenever I find a blog like Easy and Elegant Life, I start to smile, I tap my fingers together, Mr. Burns-style, and hit “Bookmark”. I just found it today and after sampling an article about being a modern gentleman, I am hooked but good. Is it too soon to start reading these entries to my 1 year old nephew? What is it about simple prose about a simpler time? I feel lulled and comforted. I feel hope for the future.

If you’re like me and a well-worded wedding invitation is enough to get your juices flowing, here are a few of my fav-or-ite things. You know, for when that rude dog bites.

Books: The Classics

Movies: To Sing Along To

Podcasts: Politeness the Way You Want It

Web: The Urban Etiquette Handbook

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5 Responses to Swelligent

  1. Thank you so very much for the kind mention. You write very well; I’m looking forward to spending some time looking through the rest of your posts.

    Keep fighting the good fight. And no, it’s not too early to start with your nephew. As we say in marketing…. get ’em early and you’ve got them for life. One of my readers is starting a journal for her two year old. I think that is a fine idea.

    Best Regards,

  2. Pingback: The Theory of Etiquette Relativity « Creme de la Mode

  3. Kari says:

    Love this. Can we be best friends?

  4. ollieoof says:

    Dude! I just read some of your posts- I think we ARE best friends! Let’s go away to summer camp immediately.

  5. EMama says:

    I immediately went to the library website to request those books. I LOVE this sort of thing, too! My husband still always gets my car door. I don’t think he knows how much it makes me swoon.

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