How did it begin?
One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, ‘how did you become an etiquette expert?’ Well, that’s a great question, but not such an easy answer. I guess it started with all of the women in my family, my Mother, Granny, Grandmother, Great Aunts, Aunts, etc. I have fond memories of using the ‘real stuff’. We always used ‘real’ plates, ‘real’ napkins, and ‘real’ silverware. They always had an effortless way of making you feel special when you were in their homes. Nothing was ‘put away’ in closets. Things were always out and ready to be admired, loved and put to use.
It even goes back to the men in my family, my Dad, Grandad, Grandpa, and many Uncles. My Dad always takes off, or at least tips, his cowboy hat when meeting a lady. He takes his hat off when we walk into a restaurant. He always expected the boys to come all of the way up to the door and get us, no honking from the driveway was even contemplated by our suitors.
The many lessons my parents and extended family taught me during my adolescent years actually paid off! I remember the first opportunity I had to ‘teach etiquette’. It was during my Recreation Internship at South Seas Plantation on Captiva Island, Florida. Part of the internship program was designing and implementing programs for the Recreation department. One of my programs was “Manners Madness”. We had a fun evening of food and games for the kiddos. They came dressed in their vacation ‘finest’ and we served chicken fingers and other yummy goodies while addressing the very basics of appropriate behavior. The parents loved it, the kids loved it, and I loved it because it because my supervisor was happy with the results!
The next phase in my ‘training’ came while working on cruise ships. One of the most fun individuals I had the opportunity to work with was Ray Williams, an English Butler turned ship concierge. As a Cruise Director, I was in charge of all of the onboard activities. So, Ray and I tag teamed for an afternoon activity titled “Table Manners and Party How-to’s with your Cruise Director and Ray the Butler”. We had SO much fun. Over the course of numerous weeks of presenting with Ray, he taught me many of his butler tricks-of-the-trade. (I know Ray will be the topic of future blogs…too much information to share in any single setting!)
The official ‘Etiquette Expert’ training came once I made the transition to ‘land’. We moved to Oklahoma City and met Suzanne Pointer. She had started the local chapter of The National League of Junior Cotillions. Upon meeting Suzanne, she invited us to become partners with her, as she knew our background would be a perfect fit. Soooo, off we headed to Charlotte, North Carolina. We went through the official training course to become certified directors for NLJC and here we are.
I guess I have to say though….It all began at home.