Continuing Education

Cruising the Web for the latest on etiquette

Are you of boorish ilk? Despite friends' protestations of your vast appeal, do you drool down your chin to avoid conversation with strangers? Are you terrified of overly attractive, gregarious persons? Are you the antithesis of couth? If you actually answered any of the preceding questions, you are as badly in need of guidance as we are. So while our thanks go to Kino for its undergraduate curriculum in adult comportment, the work of personal improvement is never done, so we decided to push beyond the source. In our quest for more wisdom and a flakier pie crust, we stumbled upon some further extracurricular material we hope that readers find helpful.

For some, cocktail parties are mystifying gatherings that resemble waddles of polite penguins looming around a shrimp cocktail buffet. What do penguins discuss over spritzers? Don't despair. We too can work the room with some help from the contributors at Associated Content, who give us "How to Chat About Art at a Cocktail Party – With Conviction" (www.associatedcontent.com). In the same vein, but perhaps more practical for the generally stymied, comes the dual-titled "10 Airport/Airplane Conversation Starters", aka "How to Strike Up a Conversation With a Total Stranger." We found the following instructive in that context: "If you're not looking for some 'ack-shun,' don't get too personal with a member of the opposite sex," and "If you're a straight guy, you might not want to get into a discussion about Brokeback Mountain with the guy at the next urinal." Edifying, all.

Meanwhile, Aunty Soph's MySpace blog may be humble, but her four tips for "young ladies and underage sluzzas alike" speak volumes with axioms such as "for God's sake do not bring your voddy tonic in the cubicle with you." We would find drinking on the job sufficiently scandalous, but that is apparently a different cubicle (blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=477512718&blogId=501560396).

Newlyweds, for whom the first year of marriage cultivates the ability to listen to unsolicited advice, benefit from the inimitable Dump Your Wife Now, a site sponsored by the service BrutalDivorceTactics.com. Dump Your Wife's "13 Ways a Wife Can Please Her Husband" explains that in one's choice of breakfast juices, "only whores use frozen." Jot that down. (www.dumpyourwifenow.com).

The previous material may have cultivated the social swan that's been struggling to get out of (read: get away from) us, but our mothers know that our handling of domestic affairs says at least as much about us. Home Ec 101 – a website that also describes itself as "What You Wish Your Mama Taught You" – comes through every time with recipes for homemade Play-Doh as well as seriously useful sections like an indexed cleaning how-to. Bookmark that one, Laura Petrie (www.home-ec101.com). Speaking of Mrs. Petrie, everyone knows that her impromptu dinners for Rob and the gang were always a hit and invariably ended with her dancing around the living room in her capri pants. We may not have her talent for the twist, but to approximate what came out of her New Rochelle kitchen, we can dial up Texas Cooking for Helen Corbitt's poppyseed dressing recipe (www.texascooking.com). In any case, be sure to spend some time you can't get back at Recovered Recipes for authentic, pencilled grandma-scrawl (www.recoveredrecipes.com). And good luck! With this advice, you'll need it.

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