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Saturday, July 3

How Would Jane Austen Expect One to Behave at a July 4th Picnic?

T'is a truth universally acknowledged that one must not lose sight of the rules of civil engagement during alfresco dining, when men's knobby knees and a lady's bare feet are as much on display as the refreshments, entertainments, and illuminations.

  • An r.s.v.p. is obligatory, as is a token of a gift, if even of a bouquet of seasonal flowers from one's garden or a jar of preserves.
  • To be accompanied by more individuals than were invited, and to encourage such behaviour, is tres outre. Pug, while loyal and adorable, should remain at home to guard the family estate.
  • Upon entering the lawn, one must immediately seek out one's host and hostess, introducing everyone in the party, and depositing one's contribution to the delectations at the host's discretion. They have often already made plans of where your bags of Cheetohs, home- made salsa, or bowl of layered chopped salad should reposit.
  • If one has promised to contribute to cubes of ice, the disposable cutlery and china, alcoholic libations, or that which today is known as an appetizer, one must be sure to be among the first of the guests to arrive.
  • Make sure your carriage does not block those of the first arrivers, unless one hands the keys to the valet, who shall take on the responsibility of the safe-keeping of your vehicle.

  • Should its normally placid and sunny temperament be influenced to the extreme by the collick or an excessive dislike of heat, noise, and bugs, consider leaving your beloved newborn heir in the hands of a nurse or governess whilst your are competing in lawn bowling or archery. The other guests, including your host and hostess, will be most grateful for your thoughtfulness.
  • Indeed, one is not always obligated to show up. Should you be suffering from an undiagnosed ague, lice infestation, measles, mumps, or influenza, consider calling for the physick and crying off your engagement. Those who stand to be infected will be forever grateful.
  • Be sure to mingle and communicate with all who have been invited. To encase oneself in a tight clique, as did Mr. Darcy and the sisters Bingley at the Meryton Assembly, is considered the height of arrogance and rudeness. Your host and hostess invited you to enjoy ALL of their companie!
  • Pay particular attention to the old and frail and young and helpless, making sure that their needs are met and that they are seated safely out of the sun. Let Emma Woodhouse's attentions to her father be your guide in this matter.

  • Try not to emulate Miss Bates at a gathering, and keep all excessive, nonsensical, and mind-numbingly boring chatter to a minimum.
  • Do not, like Mrs. Elton, presume to take on the duties of hostess if the affair you are attending has been arranged by a host who has the misfortune of being unmarried. If you are the particular guest of this gentleman, and have been asked to oversee the duties of hostess for the duration of the event, then expect to be congratulated for your impending marriage.
  • The volume of one's chatter must remain at a decibel level that is considered pleasing to others. Keep in mind the consequences of Mrs. Bennet's loud assertions at the Netherfield Ball, and how they affected her poor Jane.
  • The same rules apply to the playing of music. Whilst Lady Gaga may be your musician of choice, your neighbors might not think her vocal skills quite as charming.
  • Do not be passive, like Mrs. Allen at the Upper Assembly rooms in Bath, but arrange for your young protegee to be introduced to other young people with similar interests.
  • Do not actively engage in spreading gossip. Whilst this conduct is rich fodder for novelists, such behavior reflects poorly on the person who passes it on.
  • When the time for illuminations arrive, make sure that the children are safely out of harm's way and that all rules of safety are followed as fuses are lit and explosives are launched.
  • At the end of the event, do offer to help the host and hostess remove all physical evidence of your gay event, leaving the property as pristine as you found it.
  • Do not linger after other guests are gone, as did the Bennets at the Netherfield Ball, and beyond a time that is pleasing to your hosts.
Above all, do enjoy yourself excessively as you celebrate your country's birthday! - Vic


Jean said...

Vic, most excellent! I am always pleased to see reminders on the rules of civil engagement during dining, alfresco or otherwise.

We may be sure, also, that Miss Austen would not be texting or talking on her cell phone in the company of others!

Vic said...

Excellent suggestion! I once had a guest who, when I placed the meal on the table, answered her cell phone and spoke to that person as I ate the meal in silence!!

Mystica said...

Lovely relevant post! applicable anywhere.

Southerner said...

Really like these rules of combat Vic but I won't be using them myself.

Those archers!!! I've done some archery. Their hair and diaphanus clothing would get in the way. But they do look nice.

Love the kite up in the tree pic. It's hilarious.

The Emma picnic scene. That's really Box Hill.

Everybody have a great July 4th.

Jean said...

Vic, I must fill you in on my "enforcement" tactics so that THAT particular bit of rudeness never happens to you again!