Isn’t this great?


This book appeared on our coffee table two weeks or so ago. My roommate, Anna, owns it.

I’ve been perusing it. First, I think it’s a great idea. Second, it’s a contemporary guide; it was published in 2001. It smacks of those old etiquette books and books for “young ladies”, concerning their conduct. Yet, if you crack open the pages, it escapes being archaic and ridiculous.

Predecessors this book seem to be treated with humor, ambivalence, contempt or some mixture of the three. “Ha, a lady!” Speaking for my own sex, “lady” is such twisted term. The association that I have with the word is it being used as part of a reprimand. “Come back here, young lady!” or the like. The other association I have with it is hearing it used by creepy guys or in poor attempts at gallantry from young men: “Ladies first.” or “After you ladies.”

“Lady”. It can be a title, e.g. “Lord and Lady Such-and-Such”. It can be descriptive, “She’s such a lady.” A lot of women probably view it as an oppressive label of yore, perhaps centering around the rules of what one ought to be at around the turn of the century. This is probably furthered by what I described earlier as being able to personally attest to, “lady” being used as a type of reprove.

One might hear the redress: “That wasn’t very ladylike.” But how often does one hear it being used in praise: “That was so ladylike?” It doesn’t matter terribly to me, as I imagine I can take what is intended from the title and cast of unintended baggage, as far as the title of this book goes.

Further, the subtitle is, “A Contemporary Guide to Common Courtesy.” In this case, is it possible that the term “lady” need only be extended to “a woman who practices common courtesies”? As far as contemporary definitions go, that is good enough for me.

Now to the real aim of me writing all of this. The book itself. It is written as a series of rules, or suggestions, if you will, categorized under several chapter headings.

For example, here are some of my favorites under “A Lady Says the Right Thing”.

  • “A lady consults the dictionary for correct spelling and definitions of words she uses in her conversations and correspondence (Simpson-Giles 59).”
  • “A lady does not correct another person’s grammar (Simpson-Giles 59).”
  • “A lady knows how to accept a compliment by saying, “Thank you” (Simpson-Giles 60).”

There are also some good ones under “A Lady Goes to a Party”

  • “A lady does not turn down invitations. She never waits for something better (Simpson-Giles 85).”
    • “A lady is never the last to leave a party. Neither, if she can avoid it, is she the first to arrive (Simpson-Giles 85).”
    • “A lady does not dispose of her feminine hygiene products at another person’s home (Simpson-Giles 86).”

    Simpson-Giles. Candance. How to be a Lady. Rutledge Hill Press. 2001.


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