Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Just Plain Tacky

Jan-Jun 2000 Archive


My husband and I decided to go see a movie on Labor Day. We went to a nice theater in a nice part of Dallas for a 5:30 showing. We were sharing a sack of popcorn and I had purchased a large bottle of water. We occupied the first two seats on a row, the next two seats were empty and the next two seats were occupied by another couple. The theater was hardly full.

The rows in this theater were not spaced very far apart so my long legs were not terribly comfortable although it was not a bad as a cheap commercial airline flight. There were drink containers on the back of the theater seats rather than on the arm rests.

Thirty minutes into the movie, a pair of women come into the theater. They were not quiet. They paraded up and down the aisle, trying to find two good seats. There were plenty about halfway forward, but they didn't want to sit that far back. After a minute or two, they asked if the seats next to us were taken. They were not, so they squeezed in, stepping on my feet and knocking down my unopened bottle of expensive theater water. They were noisy about it all, continuing to chatter after sitting. I started to look for the water, but was unable to locate it. The patrons in front of us even looked for it, but it must have rolled far away. I leaned to the woman next to me and said "Your friend knocked off my bottle of water when she came in. It cost $3. Please ask her to reimburse me so I can get another." The woman took it upon herself to reach into her own wallet for the three dollars while her friend was saying "What? What's going on?" I thanked her for the $3 and left to get the water.

At the concession counter, there was no more water. I opted for a $3 soda with ice. When I returned to my seat, the woman next to my seat leaned over, wagging her finger in my face and said "Listen here, b*&%$. You had every right to ask for the money, but you had no right to talk to me that way. Don't you ever talk to me that way. B*&%$!"

Now sitting erect with my mouth totally open, I searched for something to say, but was at a complete loss. There was just nothing to say to that. She then said again, loudly, "B*&%! That's right, I said B*&%$!" My husband was furious. I was in shock. He said "Let's go." I gathered my purse and stood up. Unfortunately, my right hand was shaking so badly that my soda went all over this woman. All over. My husband thinks it's divine intervention.

We got a refund and went home to watch a DVD. It will be a long time before we venture out to a theater in Dallas again.

My husband and I got married this past November. Everything about it was beautiful and we had more fun than we had dared hope. I just learned one little detail that has me grossed out, however: a newlywed couple in the "audience" was making out during our ceremony.    etacky0111-00

Story #1: My future husband was asked to stand up for a childhood friend ("Joe") who was getting married in the town where his parents lived, about a 3-hour drive from where we lived. We were advised that not only would the cost of the tux rental be covered, but Joe's parents (who always try to come off like they are members of the Kennedy clan) had generously offered to cover the cost of our hotel stay for the weekend. So my fiance was fitted for his tux, we got the couple a lovely gift (which we could hardly afford at the time), and headed across the state to attend the wedding, which was all planned by the mother of the groom (I'll call her "Jane").

The wedding was fine but the reception was a different story. When the guests had assembled for dinner precisely at 6pm, Jane asked everyone to please wait until they were called to proceed through the buffet, which was full of the most classy and expensive food imaginable. She announced that the eight people in the bridal party (but NOT their spouses or fiances) would be the first to go through the buffet. The immediate family of the bride and groom followed the bridal party, then family that had come in from out-of-town, then business associates, and finally anyone who didn't fall into one of those categories was free to help themselves. (This in and of itself is tacky enough, but it gets better!)

The reason Jane was so adamant about the proper dining order was soon evident: By the time the business associates had made their way through the buffet line, all the food was gone!! Not even a biscuit was left! It was obvious to everyone that she had tried to save herself some money by ordering a lot less food than she knew was needed to feed everyone they had invited to the reception. So much for "high society"!

To top it all off, his mother informed my future hubby that she was willing to pay for only half our hotel room. (She didn't feel it was fair for her to have to pay for the entire bill since I was not part of the wedding party.)  etacky0308-00

This might be a switch. it is about receiving presents.  I had a wonderful bachelor uncle who gave each of his nieces and nephews really nice wedding presents. My sisers and I both received very costly sets of fine china for our weddings. About two months after I was married, my uncle got married after courting an old maid for years and years. About six months after that, his always-favorite nephew got married and received: a used electric blanket. A very used electric blanket.

That was the best anyone else ever got from the new couple.  The topper: about four years later my new aunt took me aside and said "Why do some people in the family seem to dislike me?"  I told her I didn't have a clue.  etacky0312-00

When my husband proposed to me, we made a trip back home to see our parents in order to celebrate. We didn't have a lot of money, so we didn't have a ring. I wasn't worried about it, and he didn't seem to be either. When we got to his mother's house, she produced an antique engagement ring that her mother had given her, and gave it to us. She had had it cleaned and boxed for this special occasion.  As my husband put it on my finger, she loudly announced,   "Now, when you two get divorced, I get the ring back!"    etacky0329-00

A few years ago, my husband and I were invited to a holiday party. This was an office party, although it was to be held at the hostess' home. What this meant was that the woman could have the party catered, her house decorated, and pre-party and post-party cleaners come in and charge all of this expense to the company.

When we arrived at the party we saw a number of people we knew, and began circulating. The bar had been set up in the kitchen and several of us went to get a drink. The hostess had been carrying a champagne flute, so I asked the bartender for a glass of champagne. He looked a little uncomfortable and said, "The champagne is only for the hosts and their 'most special guests.'" (i.e., the bigwigs.) Can you imagine?!? A friend went up to the bartender almost immediately afterward and asked for champagne, and he told her they were out. She said, "No, there's a bottle on the table right behind you.  I'll have two glasses, please." --- and gave one to me.

In another room, there was a palm reader. My husband and I went in to have our palms read which, to the hostess' credit, was a very popular attraction at the party. The palm reader spent probably twenty-five minutes with us. After this, I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water. The hostess was in the kitchen, and asked me if I had had my palm read yet. I told her I had, and that the palm reader was a lot of fun. She said, "Yes, but he's very verbose." Then, in a very condescending tone, she looked down her nose at me and said, "That means he talks a lot."

I was so stunned and furious that I was rendered completely speechless. I went and told my husband what she had said to me, and he burst out laughing. He gave me the perfect response (which of course, I didn't have when I needed it) to her rudeness -- "Patronizing....that means you're a b%#$@."     etacky0418-00

My family is constantly invited to attend and spend at a 'onetime' friends parties. The last party we attended was a Christmas party.  After having experienced problems in regards to being asked to pay for our food, party decor, & attendance, we felt that we would be safe from incurring billing if we arrived at her house last, and a bit later. I RSVP'd this fact to the hostess and followed up with a confirming phone call.

True to form our dear lady friend had attending members of her church choir wait for our arrival, then they sprang into a song of Christmasy welcome. Three carols later, the hostess sits next to me and informs me that she will need a check for $80 as a donation to her church for the choir's services! We didn't eat, so didn't pay: didn't drink, so didn't tip; but we couldn't do anything about our ears, so we had to pay up-she'd gotten us fair and square.

I have received 3 invitations per year for the last several years from this wonderful person with the tacky taste. Needless to say, they are as always photocopies, signature and all. We do not encourage them, they just arrive, and we never go, it just plain costs too much!    etacky0418(a)-00

Your website is hysterical - I just had to add a story about my cousin's wedding. The entire wedding was so vulgar - don't know where to begin!!!

My cousin's wedding (ceremony and reception) was held in the meeting room of a local apartment complex. The small ceremony (officiated by the county judge) was scheduled to begin at 6 o'clock. Being that the young couple did not have alot of money for an expensive reception, guests were asked to bring their own food (served buffet style). Therefore, no appetizers or cocktails were provided. The guests were left waiting for 2 hours with no food or beverage because the bride and her mother did not arrive until 8 o'clock. We later found out that the store where the mother of the bride had purchased her dress had accidentally left the "ink tag" on the dress. Therefore, on the night of the wedding, the mother of the bride and the daughter stopped at the local Fashion Bug store so that the tag could be removed.

The bride finally arrived. Due to the low budget of the wedding, there was no music to accompany the bride as she walked into the meeting room. Therefore, the bride walked into a room of people whistling and doing Jerry Springer style hoots and hollers. When it came time for the exchange of rings, the best man decided to ham it up and pretended that he had lost the rings. Instead of being offended by this un-funny prank, the entire room began laughing and hollering about this - right in the middle of the ceremony!!!

When it finally came time for the groom to kiss the bride, they started a hot and steamy make out session (which was also applauded by everyone) - his hands were going under her dress and I could see their tongues from across the room!!! After the ceremony, the best man bragged to everyone that he already known the officiant - because he had been arrested and the officiant (a judge) had presided at his trial!!!!

It was finally time to sit down for dinner. There were no place cards and the seating chart consisted of a piece of construction paper taped to the wall - with nearly every guest's name spelled wrong! Due to the fact that each guest brought a dish to serve and there was no coordination among guests about what was brought - there were about 11 different kinds of potato salad - but only 2 main dishes (not enough for everyone)!!

The music for the evening consisted of a woman operating a karaoke machine! During dinner, everyone got extremely drunk and began dirty dancing. The bride and groom's first dance was basically them in the middle of the room making out (they didn't even pretend to try to dance) while we all had to watch. The mother of the groom began dirty dancing with her sons. All the men took their shirts off and began dancing on the tables (where the food was still being served). One guy lost his footing and the table he was dancing on collapsed - causing half of the food and the wedding cake to come crashing on the ground. At the end of the evening, the guests were expected to clean up after themselves (i.e. throw away their paper plates and cans of beer).  etacky0515-00

Dear Jeanne,

My brother and I have always wondered whether the wrong baby was given to my parents when out little sister was brought home. From day one she was selfish and greedy and has always displayed an embarrassing knack for wearing "slut clothes". Brother and I were willing to take the attitude that "as long as she's happy, who cares".   Until our Mom died.

Brother and I dressed in appropriately modest outfits. When Sister came out to join us, she had on a black strapless cocktail dress that was short enough to show half of her hiney. She looked at us and asked how come we hadn't gotten dressed up! We suggested that she wear a jacket or something over the dress, she was upset! But she went up and got a jacket anyway. She'd have been better off without the jacket - we were horrified to see that it was black glitter and sequins and tassles!

Wait, it gets better! We had asked Sister to stop and pick up the food trays we had ordered for those who were coming by Mom's house to visit after the funeral. My cousin drove her to the store. We found out months later that Sister not only asked my cousin to pay for all the food (pocketing the money we had given her), she had also made a pass at my cousin!!!

It was no surprise that Sister tried to rush the guests out so she could begin to paw through Mom's things to get first dibs on the good stuff.

Love your site!!!          etacky0520-00

Thanks for an informative and socially responsible site. I'm a few weeks from my wedding and madly checking everything over to make sure I won't commit any etiquette faux pas.

I was once invited to a wedding with my then-boyfriend. He was very close friends with the groom, and we had often gone out with the couple. The couple had met in architecture school and had spent the summer after they graduated living in the groom's family's house on an island off of Maine, so that was a very romantic spot for them. In order to attend the morning wedding, guests had to stay on the mainland the night before and take a ferry at 8:30 am to the island, where we were all transported by school bus to the wedding site.

First, the wedding -- in formal attire -- was held in a clearing with no chairs. We all stood in a circle. After the ceremony we walked up to the house on a hill, where beer, soft drinks, and kirs were offered -- lovely, and relatively inexpensive -- except we all stood there for 2 hours while the bride and groom had photos taken. It was early September and cool and drizzly, so the groom's father kept running inside to get sweaters and jackets to lend the guests. The guests were not invited into the house to use the restrooms -- instead port-a-potties were installed behind the house.

Finally, the reception began, under a tent. The floor was precariously sloped. The buffet was at one end. After another hour or two, the guests were told to board the buses back to the ferry -- and it was the last ferry of the day. Except, then we found out that virtually all of the other friends of the couple had been invited to stay and continue to celebrate and spend the night. Having come so far for their wedding, we were quite hurt to learn we hadn't made the "cut."

We sent a gift of a museum membership and had to call to ask whether they had gotten it, because we hadn't received a thank you note. I don't believe I ever saw them again.     etacky0522-00

I don't throw parties much anymore, because of this one:

Years ago, my roommate and I were asked by a couple of friends if we'd host a birthday party for a mutual friend. We said we'd be happy to. They said they'd handle the invitations and bring refreshments, so all we needed to do was provide the space.

The day of the party, my roommate's girlfriend had a crisis at school and he went to help her with it. We figured it would be no problem since I was home. However, shortly after he left, I started to run a fever, and by the time the 'hosts' arrived, I was horribly sick. I trusted them to take care of things, so I went into my room with a pitcher of water and crawled into bed.

I dozed off, and was woken by a knock on my door. It was one of the guests, who had brought some guy with her and wanted to know if I'd vacate my bed for a while so she could have sex with him. I was far more polite than she deserved in my refusal. She got huffy with me, as though I were being horribly unreasonable.

I was awakened again an hour or so later when the 'hosts' knocked and told me things weren't really going the way they'd envisioned so they were leaving. I was pretty much delirious with fever at that point and didn't realize the implications, so I just mumbled something and they left. I figured I could trust our friends to behave themselves. I'll never be *that* stupid again.

Around one in the morning, my roommate got back. I heard a lot of yelling and banging around for a while, and then things got quiet. The roomie woke me up to tell me how things had played out. It seems that after the 'hosts' left, some people had decided to get the birthday girl really drunk. The party had wound up in my roommate's waterbed, where the guest of honor had vomited copiously some time after having sex with an unknown number of the other guests. It was not clear afterward whether she'd been entirely aware of events at the time, but she seemed remarkably unconcerned when we told her about it the next morning.

We never did figure out who managed to clog the toilet so thoroughly, or with what.

The absentee 'hosts' later apologized profusely. The guest who'd tried to borrow my bed later borrowed my boyfriend. The guy who decided to get the birthday girl drunk is in prison for trying to kidnap his own girlfriend. And I'm still looking for that 'better class of people' I ought to be hanging around with. I'm sure they must exist somewhere.    etacky0523-00