Newport Manners & Etiquette: Sex Etiquette for Seniors + More
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Never too old for safe sex
Through friends at church I've joined what in fact is a singles group for energetic seniors who meet weekly to play in a racquet ball clinic at a local club. Competing like that raises our adrenalin and testosterone, often leading to very convivial post-game dinners fueled by celebratory drinks. Should the occasion arise, before leading him on would I ask about STDs? Or do we assume the gentleman is savvy enough to be prepared and/or disease free? Clueless in 2014. H.J., Middletown
When the subject of sex arises, suggest to your gentleman fellow player privately that you make a date to stop by a local walk-in medical clinic outside your home town to be tested anonymously for sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS. You can make appointments for you both under false names. You'll most likely each be given a patient ID number to use when you telephone in a few days later (before the next game) to get your results, or be asked to appear in person to receive your disease free stamp of approval. Until then, abstain or use protection such as a condom or diaphragm. ~Didi
When in-laws don't attend the funeral
My dear mother passed away recently, and the funeral was yesterday. My husband and I are stunned and deeply hurt that we haven't heard a word from any of his family members, all of whom were notified immediately of her passing, and of the funeral arrangements. We have attended the wakes and funerals of every one of his siblings' in-laws who have died in our 25 years of marriage. We can't understand why they would not reciprocate this expression of sympathy. They all attend other wakes and funerals. We even learned that his sister and her family from out-of town were here for the weekend (yesterday and today) to visit friends. How can we let them know how hurt we feel? G.H.
Why would you want to pass on your pain and try to hurt them? Guilt tripping doesn't work. It is odd that nobody from your husband's family attended your mother's wake and/or funeral or sent their condolences. I'm sorry for your loss. You're in a lot of pain and you don't want to pass it on by saying something you'll be sorry for in retrospect.
We all deal with death in our own way and in our own time. You will hear from some of these in-laws when they're ready to express their sympathy. Give them the benefit of the doubt and don't do anything. Watch, wait and you'll hear from a few of them. Aside from posting a photo of your mother on Facebook announcing her death, there isn't anything you can do but be thankful when you do hear from them. ~Didi
Groomsmen dress code + etiquette
I received a wedding invitation from the bride and I know the groom. I may in fact be a groomsman awaiting instructions on dress, whether it's a dark colored suit, stylish, yet conservative or a tux rental. I'll know soon. But as far as being an invited guest what's the best approach to dress for an evening wedding held at private club. Any key highlights or suggestions are welcomed. The wedding takes place at six thirty on February 22 in Greater Cincinnati. Please advise, thank you. E.W., Cincinnati, OH
Follow the dress code. If the wedding invitation doesn't specify Black Tie or Formal Attire, you can assume the dress code is Suits & Dresses, meaning you would wear your best (and darkest) business suit, a white collared shirt, handsome tie, black socks and leather shoes and belt, if you don't wear braces (suspenders). If you are an usher (groomsman), you will be given a button-hole (boutonniere) of a single flower to show you are a go-to person for information and assistance.
It sounds as though the ceremony is at the club followed by the reception. You would arrive at least 15 minutes early and ask the groom or best man what you can do to help: It may mean handing out service sheets and greeting and guiding guests to a seat. (Sometimes there is a seating plan.) All unaccompanied women are escorted by an usher; standing to the female guest's left, offer her your right arm as you guide her up the aisle to an empty seat. When ushering two women who are sitting together, offer an arm to each woman as you stand in the middle, between them.
Traditionally, the bride's guests sit on the left and grooms' to the right of the nave. However, if the sides are signifcanily lopsided, throw that etiquette to the wind and even out the sides when seating guests for the ceremony. The front pews/rows are designated for family and the best man, who returns to his seat on the right side.
During the recessional (going back down the aisle), you would offer your right arm to one of the bridemaids or, say, to a solo older woman and lead her down the aisle. If cars are waiting for the wedding party, you would help women into the waiting cars, or in this case help to direct guests to the reception hall.
As the wedding is being held in the evening at a private club, there will most likely be planned seating, so look for a seating chart or table card with the number of your table. When the signal is given to be seated, don't dawdle because the other men at your table won't seat themselves until everyone has arrived at your table. Don't keep other guests waiting. Your dinner partner is on your right, so dance with her first, then with the person on your left. The same with conversation, switch to talk to the other when the courses change (if not before). At some point, try to dance with the bride and then her mother, the groom's mother, and other family members or friends of the bride's whom you know or would like to know. You wouldn't leave the club until the bride and groom have cut the cake, or better yet, not until after the bride has tossed her bouquet.
More and more wedding couples control the social media by not allowing cellphones and photographs that are not preauthorized. Likewise, you wouldn't randomly get up and make a toast to the bride without the go-a-head from the best man.
There may or may not have been a receiving line as you entered the reception. If so, you would have introduced yourself to anyone in the line whom you didn't know or say your name to help them remember it. If you haven't thanked the bride's mother (or the bride and groom if the parents are not hosting) in the receiving line, you would find them before leaving to thank them for inviting you to such a lovely wedding. Followup with a thank-you note within the month and by sending a wedding present from their bridal registry before the year is out. ~Didi
Addressing Miss, Ms., Mrs. or Mary
I am having an informal ladies luncheon but sending out invites. Do I address them as Mrs. John Smith or Mrs. Bessie Smith? Allison, Newport
If it is a wedding-luncheon, such as a bridesmaids' luncheon, then you would use titles for the women: Ms., Miss, and Mrs. Otherwise, go with their age and how well you know them. A woman under the age of eighteen is considered a Miss. So, if it is your Aunt Bessie, even though she is familiar, if she is of a generation who likes to be addressed as Mrs. John W. Smith, then honor that. If she's your tennis partner and neighbor, use Bessie Smith without any title.
Thinking about the woman and how you can individualize the envelope is all about being a great hostess. If Bessie Smith is a career woman, why not use Ms. Bessie Smith. If she's your daughter's mother-in-law and she doesn't have a career, she may prefer to be addressed as Mrs. John Smith. Although, if divorced, Mrs. Bessie Smith. Personalize by being sensitive and address a woman as you think she would wish to be addressed. Which, obviously, is why you're asking. ~Didi
Do you have a question for Didi? Visit her at NewportManners.com. We can withhold your name and location. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Previous weekly GoLocalProv.com columns can be found by typing in Didi Lorillard in the above lefthand search. The slideshow below is not endorsed by Didi Lorillard.
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