Dear Julia The Pig,
I have recently run into a rather sticky situation concerning proper etiquette as a good guest. Normally, when I’m invited over someone’s house, I take care to bring a small gift, for example a tray of glycerin soaps in the shapes of sea animals or a ceramic representation of the martyrdom of St. Stephen. These gifts convey the message of “Thank you for welcoming me into your home!” and pre-emptively undermine any feelings of discontent or resentment on the part of my hosts. This suits me well, as I then feel free to stay and sip their liqueurs as long as I like!
However, last night I was invited to the domicile of my new friend, Rebekah Gormlich, a young lady of decent breeding whom I met at a salon musicale dedicated to the oeuvre of Andrew Lloyd Weber. In any event, I arrived at Miss Gormlich’s house with a jar of pickled watermelon rinds and was welcomed in by Miss Gormlich’s mother. Here I had my first mild shock, for the madame was wearing nought but a sports bra and a pair of “sweat-shorts.” I nonetheless retained my composure and handed her my offering. She frowned and threw it carelessly upon the counter, muttering: “Hyman won’t have any use for these!”
In response to my quizzical — not to say mortified! — expression, Rebekah gestured toward the man of the house, whom I presumed to be Hyman. The first thing I noticed about the venerable gentleman, smartly outfitted in a smoking jacket and tweed spats, was that he bore a visage of unutterable fatigue. The second thing I noticed was that he was dead. Unless there be another explanation for his bluish complexion, pungent odor and general air of listlessness. I could not help but be touched by the family’s obvious devotion to their patriarch.
“Motherrrr!” exclaimed Miss Gormlich junior, arms akimbo. “Can’t you be civil to my friends, for once?” She explained to me that her father could only ingest foods of a pastelike consistency, and then only with considerable aid. “Here, try!” she commanded, holding up a bowl of greyish semi-liquid. “It’s his fiber-shake. It keeps him regular.”
I will not go into further detail upon that strange, strange night, but here is where I seek your guidance, Julia the Pig. Next time I am invited over a household presided over by a deceased member, what should I bring as a gift?
Grace Quimby, Long Island
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Julia The Pig is currently vacationing in the Caucuses; filling in for her this week is Constance “Connie” Eiderdown, author of the Like Manners From Heaven: The Intersection of God, Etiquette, and Common-Sense Bein’ Polite! (2007)]
Dear Ms. Quimby,
Thank you for writing! (Remember, Gentle Readers, the first rule of Etiquette is to thank people for absolutely everything, regardless of circumstance. For example, always remember to send a follow-up “thank you” note to someone after he or she has taken the time to rape your dog!)
You bring up a delicate subject, Ms. Quimby. With the issues of “Marriage Equality” for dead people and corpse “Adoption Rights” seemingly everywhere in the news these days, it can at times be tricky to know how to deal with “our” “equal” “fellow” “humans.” Whatever your political or religious views, however, there is never an excuse for Bad Manners, not even if you just know, deep down in your heart of hearts, that those people are all going to rot in hell. (Besides, you never know — some day YOU might become a Dead Person, too!)
…Which brings me to the first of my Top Five Tips For Dealin’ with the Dead:
1.) Use politically-correct language
We’re all guilty of this. We all know that it isn’t polite to call them “Fags” or “Dead People” or “Dwarves” (the preferred spelling is “d-w-a-r-f-s”), but sometimes those are just the first words that come to mind and they slip out of your mouth even though you didn’t mean anything by it and the next thing you know you’re being fired by the Marion County School Board for using “Racial Slurs” in the classroom! Just be sure to remember that they prefer the term “Necrotic-American,” and you should be all right.
2.) Avoid Stereotypes
You might think that all Necrotic-Americans are inanimate, non-sentient clumps of matter that barely merit the term “entities.” Well, maybe those things are all true, but that doesn’t stop the vast majority of Necrotic-Americans from going on to lead full, rich lives! A recent survey suggests that Necrotic-Americans can be anything they want to be, from surgeons and dance-instructors to coffin-occupants and even air-traffic controllers!
3.) Play along
Sometimes a little “suspension of disbelief” goes a long way. Sure, it might be stone-cold obvious that a certain individual is a Necrotic-American, but if his wife says that he’s been learning to ski and loving it, just smile, nod your head politely, and say things like, “I see, I see,” and “is that right, now?”
4.) Stay Positive! 😉
It’s important to always maintain a positive attitude, even when holding parley with the dead. Try not to get bogged down in depressing, “downer” topics like the fact that Necrotic-Americans are dead and will never know another sunrise nor ever again feel the wind on their faces. Instead, try to keep the atmosphere “fun” by focusing on positive things that everyone can relate to, such as what a handful pets can sometimes be or how expensive party decorations are getting to be these days.
5.) The Smell
What can I say? Some stereotypes are simply 100% true. No matter what “The Liberals” in Washington might tell you, most Necrotic-Americans smell pretty darn stale, just like that other people-group that always seems to smell really bad (you know the one I mean). Some Necrotic-Americans can be sensitive about their reeking putridity. So if you’re at a party and a Necrotic-American is producing a “mature aroma” that simply cannot be ignored, try taking the fall for him or her by saying, “Pardon me, everyone; I seem to have farted.”
Anywho, I hope these Top Five Tips For Dealin’ with the Dead have been helpful to you, Ms. Quimby! Be sure to write back and let us know how implementing this advice has worked out for you!
Thank you very much, ;-D
Constance “Connie” Eiderdown