Tuesday, October 16, 2001
Dear Mr Postmanners,
I fear you'll have little sympathy for my plight, but I must write to you just the same.
My beloved, my heart, my dove... she is beautiful, wise and kind and hearty as unto a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. She is, in fact, quite Canadian herself.
When ever I see her, and she does that thing where she tilts her head to the side and gazes at me from under her lashes, I must touch her. Hold her, kiss her, yea, verily, canoodle her to within an inch of her life. And therein lies the problem.
I have been informed, gently and at length, that Canadians simply don't do such things. Er, in public, that is. In private... well, that's a story for another day, and perhaps for any number of the fine publications that turn one's mind to the -- not to put too fine a point on it -- shameless and filthy.
In any case, I am not a Canadian of any stripe, and my ardor has few boundaries. I find myself rebuffed quite often, even when "in public" can be defined as "in a room full of people who are either quite busy canoodling themselves, or already know any number of details about what goes on between my dove and I in the bedroom, kitchen, computer room, bathroom, living room, etc."
How can I convince her to allow me to lavish her with affection whenever possible?
Nuzzler in New Jersey
Well? And? The problem would be?
Oh, all right. One understands the problem perfectly well. The maiden in question has a perfect sense of propriety and how to behave in public, and perfect propriety always produces a desire for perfect impropriety. It was ever thus. Somehow, it always seems that a person who believes firmly in Public Displays of Affection winds up with another who sincerely believes that such PDAs are in poor taste. (The colloquialism "PDAs" makes the occasional kiss on the sidewalk sound like one of those handheld computers, doesn't it? One's Social Secretary informs One that they are alarmingly convenient devices. However, One digresses.) One believes that this is evidence of the absolutely perverse sense of humor of the gods of the universe. (That along with the fact that men and women reach their ... er ... well, One must just say the words, mustn't one? The fact that men and women reach their peaks of sexual desire, as it were, not only at the opposite ends of the fertility spectrum -- ages eighteen and forty-five, respectively -- but also at opposite ends of the day. Men tend to ... er, desire, as it were, in the morning, while women seem to prefer evenings and nights. But again, One digresses.)
Also, One feels pressed to note that merely being in a room of people who know perfectly well what happens when you canoodle with your Canadian is not sufficient excuse. After all, you know perfectly well what happens when your parents canoodle -- you got into this world somehow, after all -- and you wouldn't want to see that, would you? ... Well, would you? ... One thought not. There are limits.
The other problem with public canoodling, of course, is that it is entirely possible to go Just That Bit Too Far, and you may find yourself with an attractively undone blouse or shirt, a certain someone nibbling on your neck, perhaps seductively murmuring your upcoming social schedule into your ear in that wonderfully low voice, maybe with his hand down the back of your pants, and the other hand ... Ahem. Yes. Well. At which point it is not unusual to be rudely interrupted by somewhat surly people in uniform. Alas. (Never canoodle in public in Alabama. One is just saying.)
Of course, the rules of etiquette are firmly on the side of the Canadian in question. Politesse requests -- nay, demands -- that people refrain from such displays in public. Ideally, when asked to cease and desist, you should cease and desist, whilst making eyes and otherwise apprising your Canadian of what you would like to do when you are together in private. Really, some people just have no idea of how to properly tease. (Although it sounds like your Canadian has quite a good idea of that, actually. But One digresses. Again. One is just replete with digression today.) However, one is resigned to the fact that people will ignore the demands of etiquette to do what they will. Not happy about it, but resigned.
Very well. Mr PostManners will help you just this one time, but you MUST promise to behave yourself properly when behaving improperly!
The proper way to ... er ... canoodle in public, as it were, is to hold hands. This is an unobjectionable behavior even under the most stringent demands of etiquette. On the occasional moment, overwhelmed by passion, you might even gently brush your lips across the back of your Canadian's properly gloved hand. (She does wear gloves, one hopes. A person with such a wondrous sense of propriety really should. It makes impropriety ever so much more enjoyable later! But you did not hear that from One!) Then, at moments when your hands are hidden from public view -- perhaps under her wrap on her lap or with your hands behind one or the other of you -- you might perhaps trace a little pattern on the palm of your Canadian or draw a line or two with your finger on the back of the hand or ... well, what your hands get up to when nobody can see them is not officially Etiquette's business. (If you are so imprudent as to be caught, Etiquette will officially disavow any knowledge of your actions.) However -- and one cannot stress this strongly enough -- public lip contact is NOT allowed by etiquette!
That said, if you are in an environment that encourages mass canoodling ... well, one can only try to wear down one's Canadian and hope for the best. Or not, as the case may be. (One would actually encourage all Canadians to stand firm for Etiquette, but one knows how tempting impropriety can sometimes be. Alas.)
(Er ... where would one find one of those publications that you mentioned ...?)
Yours most properly,
(although One cannot imagine why you would want to obtain advice elsewhere.)Emily Post Institute