May I Kiss the Ring

ES yelling(click for bigger scream)

Have you ever been introduced to someone that seems utterly annoyed by the minimal effort it will take to say “Hello. Nice to see you”? They hold out a limp wristed hand and grasp your fingers as though they might be risking some bodily fluid contamination.  Then the charmer gives you a look as if some odious fragance is wafting by them, and you, my dear are the culprit.  I  had such an unpleasant and frankly confusing moment recently. 

I admit that I have my own challenges with social introductions.  I think most of us do.  When I meet new people I immediately forget their names and must ask them again, but I try to smile cheerfuly and give them a firm handshake with the ritual greeting, “Nice to meet you” or “Lovely to see you”.   Some well-meaning men that I have met, will crush my fingers  into my ring and I believe the pulsing pain is to blame for my absent mindedly forgetting who they are.  When I catch my breath, I ask for their name, again.  

So this is the situation. At a recent gathering, a friend met me and my husband with a sweet “Hey. How-you?” and then with gandioise sweep of hand toward her friend , “I am sure ya’ll have met Mitzey. Ya’ll know Mitzey Smith?” To whom, I offered smile and outstretched hand.  “I am sure we have met at some party.  So good to see you. “  Then whammm. Let the snobbery begin. She gave me a look-down-her-nose aloof, pompous expression paired with the floppy, limp handshake. “Good to see you,” was forced from a sneer. She promptly turned on her heel and walked away. Later, I actually asked my husband if he had been shown the same lifeless, hauty greeting.  I wondered outloud if it was at all possible if we could have done something to offend this person.  He felt that our offense was merely taking up some of her airspace and occupying the same patch of carpet as she.  Maybe a larger person would not have been bothered. I can’t do it.  I would be fake and insincere to say I wasn’t angry. Honey, I was madder than a bee in a bonnet.  Plus I know I would have had a different experience had I genuflected more effectively. “Smith?  Is that The Smith’s of Savannah Canned Peach fame?  Oh my gracious!  It is so nice to finally meet you!  May I please kiss your ring?”

In Letitia Baldrige’s Complete Guide to a Great Social Life, the author plainly advises, “Be nice to everyone you meet, not just people you have heard described as important.” It is the wise thing to do.  However Vanity Fair author William Makepeace Thackeray admitted that “It is impossible, in our conditon of Society, not to be sometimes a Snob. “  I agree with both points.  I have the ability to be a snoot, but during a common introduction and unprovoked,  I hope not. The “Be nice/Play nice” edict that millions of mothers have taught their children to apply in the playground is pretty easy to use.  

I can imagine someting like this.  Some poor soul introduces her friend to me at a party.  “Erica, let me introduce you to Crystalle.  Crystalle is my third husband’s baby mama.  She and the baby been staying with me ever since her boyfriend got busted at a meth lab that was in the trailer next door. You know that sorry ex of mine don’t give her no money for the baby, so she’s working night shift at the Circle K.   Crystalle ’s helping me pay for that flat screen I just got at Bes’ Buy.”   

Would I turn up my nose in horror?  No. I’d probably say something like this. “Crystalle,  I am so glad to meet you.  Sounds like you’re having quite a time. Honey, if you need a good attorney, I bet I could find one to help you get some child support.  Do you work at that Circle K on White Bluff?  They got the best Blue Raspberry Icee in town. Oh, and I am curious. Which do you like better, plasma or high-def?”

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