Friday, December 17, 2010

Miss Proper and Conversation

Miss Proper has been most shocked and offended by what passes as conversation these days. She used to live under the evident delusion that conversation was invented for pleasantries and communication, not for the purpose of tearing others down. She has found herself most mistaken.

In the olden days - ones that Miss Proper would have found herself better adapted too - conversation followed time honored lines, and it was considered most indiscreet and impolite to discuss, at least without mutual consent (known as gossip to the lower class):
Other people's divorces
How annoying the other person was at the party last night.
The obvious fact that the other person's hairstyle is far from flattering.
Pekingese dogs ( This assumes that the other person is uninterested in them - if they are, that is another story.)

Evidently Miss Proper is old-school, but Miss Proper is far from sure she cares. She finds that keeping to such rules of etiquette prevent such occurrences as this dreadful one that occurred to her the other day.

Miss Proper was having a pleasant discussion with an older lady of her acquaintance when the subject of conversation turned to doctors. After listening to the other women volubly go into the whys and wherefores that doctors were inherently evil, she politely inserted the comment that her father was a doctor, only to find it made no effect on her friend. Impertinence! Miss Proper was shocked beyond words.

It is in hopes of preventing such atrocities that Miss Proper writes.

Conversation, as such, should run on such lines as are 'invigoration, stimulating, but not offensive." That means no politics, in short. One may have a discussion of such things, one may not have a conversation of such things. Miss Proper is indignant that the difference is so hard to see.

One may discuss:

The weather
How cute so-and-so's baby was day-before-yesterday

One's plans for the next day
What one plans to do the next day, or the day after for that matter.

Miss Proper will not bore her readers with (hopefully) unnecessary details - she feels she does quite enough of that as is.

In short, since Miss Proper is going to insist that proper conversation is resumed, as what passes for conversation now is rude and degrading and shall not long be tolerated.

Good day to you! (And you are not allowed to discuss politics. Ever. Miss Proper forgot to mention that.)
~Miss Proper

(Miss Proper is a regular manners column put out by the main author. She welcomes all questions of etiquette and manners and would appreciate any questions being sent to her, as her stock is low. That is all. )


Starlie said...

Great blog except for one would be impossible for me to go without talking politics...and I'm not joking :P :D

~Miss Kate~ said...

Starlie, it's been pointed out to me that i did not say exactly what I meant in this article.
( I quote from a recent discussion)

"Let me first clarify, before I go any further. My intention was never to say that there was not a time and a place for serious discussions of controversial subjects - there is, and it is important to discuss them for obvious reasons -... I have had acquaintances who were so determined to stay on non-controversial subjects that it became impossible to really have a edifying conversation - how much can one talk about one's pets, seriously? But I digress.

So yes, I do agree. There is a time - and an importance that many people are forgetting - for serious conversations.

What Miss Proper dislikes is the occurrence in which a social occasion - such as a ball, or something of the sort - is used as an opportunity to rant and express one's views - not in hopes of edification or for any other reason other then to hear their own voice and/or to stir things up. Not that stirring things up is a bad thing, but I have in mind instances such as a birthday party, during which the subject of politics was heatedly and loudly discussed to great lengths - when the person of honor had made it obvious they had no interest in politics whatsoever - that is what I would consider rudeness.

Surely, I strongly agree that it is necessary (and desirable), to have serious conversations, and to see what someone is like not just when they are on their 'best behavior' but in normal life - this applicable both to potential suitors and friends :)"