The Coast News Group
ColumnsSmall Talk

Small Talk: What’s a polite lady to do now?

If anyone is still looking for a sign of the apocalypse, it has most certainly arrived. The Southwest Blue Book is going out of print.

Granted, it is not the East Coast Blue Book, but I’m certain it must have kept track, for the last 115 years, of just who has the biggest ranchero in these parts. I mean, one simply has to know, doesn’t one? The British still rely on Burke’s Peerage, after all. Well, some of them might.

I know you are as aghast as I, and are near delirious with wonder about how on earth you will know whom to snub at the next charity gala. The social register, or Blue Book, was the go-to guide to polite society. Now everyone thinks just being polite is enough. Really. 

Just as in the 1880s when the first Blue Book was established, it has been dreadfully important for clues about proper behavior. How will one know when we might, or had best not, call on an acquaintance? Well, yes, the invention of the telephone did make that a bit more manageable. And of course, if you have succumbed to all the modern technological kerfuffle, you can even text or Instagram, and whatnot. But that is just so frightfully casual, now, isn’t it?

When one is in the workplace things get even dicier. It seems we are now required to get on with even the lowest-ranking member of the staff. This is especially important when you are that lowest-ranking member of said staff. But never mind that.

We still know that being in The Book makes all the difference in one’s life. Isn’t it the first thing you are asked at any job interview? What? That’s illegal now? Well, there you go — a perfect example of the crumbling of proper behavior.

As we descend into chaos, there is the ever-reliable method of identifying the tasteless of the world by simply checking their shoes the day after Labor Day. If they are still shod in white, well then, you have your answer. But if they are wearing flip-flops and have a decent manicure, your guess is as good as mine.

I believe I will retire to my chaise lounge. I have a case of the vapors.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer wondering where to turn to find someone to feel superior to. Contact her at [email protected].