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A Month of Etiquette: Manners Week

First conversation of the month? 

My first words of the morning: “Shut the [email protected]#$ up Lexington!!” (Our very loud annoying radiator). Sarah: “No cussing.” 

Me: “Oh shit.” 


We’re doing great. 


Following with our plan to “become ladies” for a month, my roommate and I have officially made it through our first week in our month of etiquette practice -Manners Week. 


    It wasn’t without a full share of failures. Alongside our month-long rules, this week primarily focused on dining etiquette. This meant three-course meals, no phones/homework at the table, and of course, napkins on our laps. 


    We kept a journal of our week and starting our month and here are some of our thoughts:

Me: “I joined this project because I like a good challenge, and its winter and something has to entertain us right? I think most of it’s some traditional elitist garbage making us feel “uncivilized,” but I do feel that some good can come out of this. I want to become a gentler person, and most of this stuff isn’t going to hurt me. Appearance -appearance might hurt me. I don’t see why doing your hair and makeup should make a difference. I care about the kind of person you are, not how you look, and I dress for practicality -not style.. Waking up to do this will be my personal hell. Anyway.. Tea time was nice. We set aside our phones, talked about our families, and didn’t discuss business or schoolwork. We also put on a youtube fire and Christmas lights to achieve that Nov 3 mood. I’m going to like this time.”


Sarah: ”Not gonna lie, I’m a little nervous for the next three weeks as today was rough to say the least. We had to use plastic silverware and paper products today; that seemed a little ironic to me since we are attempting to be “proper.” I really enjoyed our tea time. We drank tea, ate some surprisingly okay cheesecake from Walmart and had great conversation. I look forward to the conversations we will have over the next month. If I can discipline myself to not put my elbows on the table then that will help me discipline myself in other bigger aspects of life. Another big goal is to become better at resting- I really struggle with that. Part of that will be listening more and talking less. I spent some time alone in the woods at Audra (a local state park) today and that was a great step in the right direction. I feel like a whole new person. I had some amazing God time, and going back to discipline, I need more of that. I think we are both going to come out of this month seriously failing in the “proper etiquette” but with great success in personal growth.” 


    Our first week was admittedly a bit difficult. Like Sarah said, it’s hard to maintain that feeling of propriety when you’re eating off of plastic plates. Also when your plastic knife snaps off a burnt piece of chicken while trying to cut it. Second, we had to serve ourselves each course meaning we had to travel all the way back to the meal lines between each course which was a bit awkward. Finally, the time each meal took with three courses (we only did this for dinner, just manners for lunch) had to be accounted for. It all fell short for me when we ended the week with a $5 pizza on our dorm floor. Not the most ladylike..


    On Friday at lunch our campus chaplain (a southern, cotillion practiced woman) shared a meal with us a graded us. Here were our results: 



Some indirect effects came about this week’s experience. We started to make healthier food choices. Rather than grabbing a slice of pizza, we went for chicken breasts or rice. We had soup or salad each night which gave us more time for the meal lines to wind down. And the break between each course actually kept us from overeating. We were actually full when we left.


By the end of the week Sarah claimed:

“Our week ended much better than it started. I actually really enjoyed the three-course dinners. It made me slow down and I chose my food more carefully than normal. I am glad my schedule wasn’t crazy or dinner would have been more difficult. We normally scarf dinner down quickly, but we had to take more time to eat. My favorite part was the no phones during meals and during tea time. I enjoy disconnecting but it can be hard, so making myself do it was good. I felt more present where I was. It helped me put life aside and enjoy the company of others more. The meal etiquette itself wasn’t awful. We got a passing grade at the end of the week! I did cheat and read during lunch by myself one day, but I desperately needed some extra homework time before class. The commandments are hard, but I am getting better about following them, which is the whole point of our “experiment”, so I guess I’ll call that successful. Washing dishes every time we use them has been the hardest, especially since our tea time doesn’t usually happen until later in the evening. Overall I think we did okay.”


    It’s going to be an interesting month, but we look forward to the challenge.     Check-in next week for our next theme: “appearance.”


Class of 2020 Communication Studies major at West Virginia Wesleyan College from Flemington, WV. 
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