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A Life Well Lived - Having Style 

Etiquette Manners- part two

Spartanburg Herald-Journal
Date: 04/23/2003   

By: Karen Nutt

Me About Me." However, bear with me when I tell you about me in the Country's Most Mannerly City, Charleston, recently.

While in Charleston with my daughter for the Family Circle Cup tennis tournament, I was at the cash register, spending too much cash on tennis stuff. As the cashier was ringing up my merchandise, I decided I needed to spend more cash and told her I was going to buy a visor, too.

When I came back 4.3 seconds later, I gave the visor to the cashier along with my credit card. A woman beside me then retorted, "Well, that was rude! You must be a Yankee!"

Although I've been called worse, I said, "Excuse me?"

She told me that I'd have to be a Yankee because I broke in line in front of her.

Then the cashier came to my rescue, explaining to the woman that I was already in line and had only left to get the visor. Boy, did that woman feel rotten, accusing me of being a Yankee. Then I told her I'd never break in line I'm from Spartanburg.

Cindy Grosso, founder of the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette and our source for this two-part column on etiquette origins, said that while etiquette is the same in both the North and South, the attitudes are different.

"Holding the door for someone is not an action. It's an attitude. It's how you live your life," she said. "Holding the door for a woman is more prevalent in the South. It's just as correct in the North, but men in general are afraid to do so."

And they're afraid to do so because women have told men that they can hold the door for themselves.

It's not an issue of a woman's ability of holding a door, but one of manners. So a woman who refuses to allow a man to hold the door for her is the one in error.

Yet good manners are not necessarily a matter of gender. Would you allow a door to slam in the face of the person walking behind you, regardless of gender?

"In the South, we allow more time for the use of manners. We have a slower pace of life and take time to be polite. In the North, they're in a hurry," Grosso said.

A few etiquette origins of interest:

uSaying "God bless you" after someone sneezes. One possibility: A universal epidemic in southern Europe in 558 A.D. prompted the Pope to issue a statement to the faithful to say "God bless you" so the sickness might be averted because a sneeze was an early sign of illness.

Clinking glasses during a toast. Two possibilities: When glasses "clink" together, the wine or other drink would "slosh" into the other glass. This was supposed to keep a person's drink from being poisoned because the sloshing would poison the other person's drink, too. Or, the ancient Greeks believed wine stimulated all the senses, and the clinking allowed them to "hear" it, too.

uWhy it's called a toast. A piece of burnt bread (toast) was put in bitter wine.

uThe origin of etiquette. Louis XIV of France was annoyed by the aristocrats traveling across the palace lawn. So Louis issued signs that read, "Keep Off the Grass." "Etiquette" means sign or label in French. Unfortunately, the dukes and duchesses ignored Louis' etiquettes and continued to tramp over the royal grounds.

Write to Karen Nutt, 123 Barley Mill Road, Moore, S.C. 29369 or


Source: Article published in the Spartanburg Herald Journal

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