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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Kiss Me, Kiss Me Not

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Politely dodging kisses during the holiday flu season, ring etiquette for my significant other? Who was the Grinch who stole my aged aunt's TV? Funeral etiquette when you haven't seen the deceased in forty years. All end of the year questions to Didi Lorillard at Newport Manners.com this week.

Taking control of the kiss

Dear Didi,

People use the holidays as an excuse for kissing everyone and anyone who'll let them. How do I fend off germy kisses without being rude? I don't want to be sick for New Years again. Andrea, Providence

Dear Andrea,

At first sighting of an approaching pucker, extend your hand for a serious shake and say, "I wouldn't want you to get what I'm getting over." If that doesn't whet their whistle without damaging their spirits, fend them off further by extending both out-stretched hands and grab both shoulders to keep them from coming any closer saying, "Now, now, hold that kiss for the New Year. ~Didi

Handling elderly abuse

Dear Didi,

My aunt is 97 and strong, able and alert. She was my blood uncle's wife. She's not my blood relation, but my uncle asked me to watch over her because he had always supported her relatives. I wasn't sure what he meant at the time, but it became evident after his death. As my aunt and uncle had no children, her blood nieces and nephews take on the responsibility of helping her maintain her wish to stay in her own home. Despite the far drive and back, I try to visit every month, but I don't have any say in anything. Over the past decade things have clearly gone missing from her house. Antique lamps and tables substituted with far lesser quality items. Decorative pieces of silver, china, and art have also disappeared. Petty theft that obviously neither of us could do anything about.

Just before Christmas, as is our tradition, my Aunt and I had our own little celebration and she bemoaned the fact that her huge brand new TV had been replaced by one of far lesser quality that has very poor reception and dull color. My aunt is half blind and that huge TV was her best friend. How do I get her TV back without causing a brouhaha? The sad thing is that she doesn't understand why anyone would have taken a TV that she had just bought and leave her with a secondhand one that doesn't function. T.B., Concord, NH

Dear T.B.,

Short of buying your aunt a new TV, it sounds as though you don't have any authority. However, you could offer a reward for the return of the TV. Spread the word to her nephews and nieces that you don't want to know who took their aunt's new TV, you just want it brought back or replaced before your next visit. If the TV is returned, you will leave an envelope with cash in a designated safe spot and they can claim their reward the next time they visit her. No questions asked. ~ Didi

Significant Other ring etiquette

Dear Didi,

My "significant other" and I live together but have no plans to marry. She would like a ring as a token of my commitment to her. What kind of ring would you suggest? I thought perhaps a signet ring with my family crest might be suitable. Thanks! L.C., Boston, MA

Dear L.C.,

What woman wouldn't want a fine piece of jewelry?

However, signet rings are worn by the blood family member. As you say, you have no plans to marry; technically she's not a family member by blood. Why not give her a ring in her birthstone or a "forever" ring. Another thought is the Cartier "Trinity Ring" of three bands interwoven, which can be found in a range of prices depending on the metal and stones. Another Cartier classic is the "Love" ring, also three bands, but they're not interwoven. The LOVE ring band has the symbol of the O with a hyphen running through the middle. Apparently Cartier's LOVE collection is a symbol of commitment that "seals the circle of eternal love" because it is studded with their trademark screws. You also might look at antique rings or "seal rings."

My guess is that your partner is looking for a ring that has the appearance of a wedding band to wear on her left ring finger. Find out which finger she wants to wear the ring on. Traditionally, a ring on the finger next to the pinky on the left hand signifies commitment. The ring finger next to the pinky on the right hand is best for a "Cocktail ring," which can be fun and flashy and not necessarily an everyday ring. Also, look online at the popular Hermes rings/bands for women, which she can wear on either her left hand as a commitment band or on her right hand as a fashion statement.

When investing in something that your partner is going to wear every day, you want to make sure that she really likes it. Find out which finger she would wear it on and give her a couple of choices. Even if you were married, she wouldn't be wearing your family crest ring--unless you were deceased. ~Didi

Proper funeral etiquette

Dear Didi,

Would it be improper to attend the wake of old girlfriend's dad whom I have not seen in forty years? Jason, Woonsocket

Dear Jason,

Just the fact that you're asking means you kind of want to attend, but feel awkward having not seen him for so long. You would be attending his wake in support of the deceased's family and because you liked and respected him. Wakes can be a social occasion and an opportunity to catch up with old friends and acquaintances. If your gut tells you to go, then attend, because it would not be improper. ~Didi

Do you have a question for Didi? Visit her at NewportManners.com . We can withhold your name and location. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book,"Newport Etiquette." Previous weekly GoLocalProv.com columns can be found by typing in Didi Lorillard in the above lefthand search.

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