Etiquette Über Alles
Surviving college is primarily a question of good manners
By Mike Calahan
As I was going through a musty steamer trunk that had been salvaged from the attic (just before the family estate was sold off to pay years of back taxes, multiple paternity suits and assorted gambling debts), an early edition of Great-Grandmama Pearl Calahan's Etiquette for College Students found its way to light. Although some of the references may not seem familiar to the majority of UCSC's new and returning student body, the overall advice remains every bit as timely today as it was when it was published in 1933.
IN ANY GREAT society, whether it be Western, European, Asian or even one of those heathen fascist countries, there are those that are looked upon as civilized, cultured, respectable ... and those that are not. By remembering a few simple rules of etiquette, you will be on your way as one of the former.
Although it may not seem as vital to your everyday lives as finding that perfect retro shirt at Moon Zoom or planning ahead for the inevitable downtown Halloween stabbings, good manners are as important today as ever. And so, reprinted here are excerpts from Etiquette for College Students, each followed by modern-day scenarios that further illustrate their themes.
NOW, IT MIGHT surprise many of you that the young men of today are concerned with more than just Heinie Manush's current RBI or the outcome of the latest Tarzan serial. Many of today's young men are deeply concerned about attending a co-ed university. They want to fit in at school, to not be a "wet sock." These young men were no "half portions" when it came to knowing how to win the affection of the opposite (dare I say ...) sex.
Let's put this into context. Say, for example, you are in line at the Hungry Slug cafe when a Goddess walks past in all her Mother Earthliness and inadvertently drops one of her crystals. Foregoing your place in line, you should pick up the crystal, hurry ahead of the young woman (but on no account nudge her), offer the crystal to her and say, "I think you dropped your energy." The lady will no doubt reply (in a strangely slow manner of speaking), "Heyyy, that's sooo cool. You're so positive."
It is at this moment that you lift your hemp hat cordially and turn away.
BY PROOF OF such box office draws as John Barrymore and William Powell, most young ladies wish to meet a gentleman. (I say 'most' only because there does exist that percentage of girls that will forever swoon at the danger of the type such as Valentino was ... God rest his soul.) Any young man of even the most moderate breeding can become comfortable in a top hat.
One UCSC junior told of an incident where good manners took the reins. It was during a rally at the Clock Tower downtown, protesting the government's use of secret chemtrails on an unsuspecting Santa Cruz populace. "Please," the young activist said upon noticing a crestfallen fellow activist whose own placard had been lost, "take my sign."
Oh, sure, the government may have begun surveillance on yet another group of subversive peaceniks that day, but if they did, they would also have noticed among the outpouring of dissidence this small yet laudable act of chivalry.
A BASIC RULE for behavior in society is: 'Try to do and say those things only which will be agreeable to others.' Yet how many people go night after night to dinner parties and absent-mindedly prate about this or that without ever taking the trouble to think what they are saying and to whom they are saying it?! The answer? Far too many, my young learners. Far, far too many.
Many young women I met this summer asked (besides the common "Are you gonna leave us alone or are we gonna have to call the cops?") about tips on how to be more debutantelike. Well, one of the first things for any young lady to learn is the art of decorum. Your Gamma Phi Beta sisters are throwing a party at their house along the Loop when, in the middle of discussing how fat Nicole Richie is, you see a new face standing near the front door, just below the collection of Smirnoff ads that act as your house's wallpaper accent. You notice her fashion to be a few weeks out of style (the $120 made-to-look-used pair of jeans are boot cut, not tapered) and comment accordingly to the girl next to you, "Who brought the sale rack from Pacific Trading Company?"
The girl next to you, noticing to whom you are referring, puts a hand to her hip, juts her chin out just ever so slightly and says, "That happens to be my sister, you cold-sored skank."
NEXT TO their starched collars and white spats, people of society are most easily recognized by their good grammar.
Next to being able to think up new ways to avoid the parking fees doled out by the Stormtroopers of TAPS, proper English is one of the most important ingredients in any UCSC student's day-to-day life. For example, when purchasing previously owned term papers from one of the alumni haunting the darkened recesses of the Metro bus station (their jaundiced skin is adorably reminiscent of Sammy the Slug, an act of perpetual school pride), always begin your transaction with "I beg your pardon, but were you an economics major?" and end with "Here is $5 and my leftovers from Taqueria Vallarta. Good day."
Let's take another example. Say you are with one of your friends at Club Caution or The Red and an attractive individual passes by. Don't say, "Man, I'd love to nail that [chick/dude]." The proper thing to say would be, "You know something, preferred companion? That is a young person whose company I would very much enjoy sharing."
Grammar is something to keep in mind in all scenarios. Never say, "Bush lied to us!" The correct phrasing would be, "It seems there is some question to the validity of the president's claim, but I do not wish to judge."
KNOWING HOW to act in a given situation is one of the markers of a person of society. President Zachary Taylor might still be with us if he had known that cherries and dairy products are not to be eaten on a hot July day.
For those of you attending UCSC for the first time, there are some basic rules that should be remembered in order to survive among your peers and aid in your ascension to the ranks of Santa Cruz society.
- —Try to avoid any childish giggling at the mention of the Lick Observatory
- —Don't sign up for the GLBT dorm with the assumption that you will be living in the Good Looking Blonde Teens floor.
- —Never ask your new roommate, "Mind if I hang up some of my guns?"
AS SCHOOL begins, young leaders of tomorrow, know that if you can keep these attributes and strive for perfect taste in living and thinking, we need not dwell on the Golden Age that is past, but believe in the Golden Age that is sure to be.
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