Modern Miss Manners

Emily Post for the dazed + confused NYC twentysomething

Month: May, 2012

Protocol: Hailing a Cab

I used to think that anyone who attempted to hail the traditional yellow NYC cab with its off duty lights on – or no lights on at all – was an ignorant douche. Or a tourist who hadn’t done their homework.

I was (kinda) wrong. True cab-hailing champs know that everything is a negotiation:

A. Keep that arm up til you see bodies in the backseat (live bodies, preferably) that prove you wrong, and…

B. Don’t tell the driver where you’re going until you’re in the goddamn cab – and the doors are shut.

Follow these two simple rules – or you’ll never make it to Williamsburg in the rain on a Saturday night, you lazy good-for-nothing who refuses to take the L (full disclosure: that person is often me).


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Meeting the Parents

Oh, jesus. Just remember your table manners*, bring a bottle of decent red wine (unless they don’t drink – then bring black and white cookies because that’s an NYC staple and straight-up mom bait, I’ve seen it in action) and listen to every single story your significant other’s parents tell you with rapt attention. Do not make this about you – unless they ask. Then be prepared to charm, to wow, to woo. It’s like the Westminister at that dinner table: you’re a showdog. Woof.

*Table manners post to follow. Hold your collective barn-raised breath.

Running into an Ex


I’ve spent countless hours coming up with what the French call “l’esprit de l’escalier,” or “staircase wit.” You know, you’re in the shower or the elevator and you think of some fucking incredible zinger for someone who stomped on your heart… five days after the fact. This is something to keep in mind when you run in to said someone on the street three months later with a new paramour: do not say that pent-up staircase wit out loud. Smile, ask how they are, say you’re doing FUCKING INCREDIBLE in the most casual way possible, and walk the hell away. Fast. Keep moving. Do not look back. Good work, you’ve made it out alive, and you’re looking classy as all get-out.

If you call them that night at 2am, drunk on two bottles of wine you downed alone in your studio apartment, garbling that witty comeback then begging them to love you again, you’ve taken approximately five million steps backward. Keep that in mind. Stick to one bottle of wine tonight, killer. 

Protocol: Walking in NYC

Be faster, and make sharper turns. You’re a race car, but without all the “vroom vroom” noises I know you so desperately want to make.

Don’t make any abrupt stops – not even to snap a cell phone pic of that rad Occupy poster or whatever. Nobody on your Instagram feed cares.

No texting. NO. TEXTING.

Do not walk three abreast with your best galpals. We’re not in a scene from “Crossroads.”

Always assume there’s somebody with someplace to be directly behind you, and they’re this close to kicking the backs of your knees, because they’ve had a bad day and now you’re in their fucking way.

Bottom line: EYES UP. And get it together. You’re a mess.

Thank You Notes

Thank you notes are goddamn nice. Your aunts and your grandmas will appreciate them more than anyone else in your life. (Except for maybe that guy friend who walked you home one time when you were too drunk to function and kept you from dying alone in a gutter. He’ll appreciate it the most. Write him a note. Do it now.)

When thank you notes are sent via snail mail to interviewers, you can bet your ass they will be shown to at least one other person in the office and referred to as a “classy move.” They might not get you the job, but hey: you made that classy move. Give yourself five seconds of self-congratulatory-yet-delusional-feelings-of-bearing-striking-resemblance-to-a-young-Don(na)-Draper time. You’ve earned it.

Posting Arbitrary Self Portraits Anywhere on the Internet

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Advice for Dudes: Walking a Lady Home at Night

The good deed of walking a lady home or to the train (especially if she’s a “romantic interest”) gives a dude the ability to appear world-weary in stature and looks… and therefore that much more attractive… to the entire lady world!

Ladies will think it’s rad that you understand the world is FULLA DANGERS… but you’re not expecting anything in return for this courtesy.

You’ll go down in the books as fucking perfect, especially if you hold her hand and kiss her real good like up against a wall if she’s into it but not in a rapey way. (I dunno, feel that situation out – anyhow, she’ll appreciate you, and if all both of you want is to get laid then that’s a pretty goddamn simple setup: you vs. all other possible creeps in the city, so you’re basically a god at that moment. Take the chance.)

All set. Go get ’em, tiger!

Q. Am I Under Any Social Obligation to Talk to a Dude Who Buys Me a Drink?

A. Nope.

Avoiding a Backslide

If you’re in danger of a backslide* and headed out for a night on the town, here’s a handy list to keep in your purse (maybe get it laminated in a handy business card size… or have it tattooed on your forehead, whatever works):

My name is:

I live here:

My emergency contact if I’m blackout drunk and screaming incoherently (or for any reason at all, really):

This is a list of people I’m not allowed to text or call:
1. — (ESP this one, he is the most recent heartbreak/likeliest backslide #SOS)

2. —

3. —

If you’re reading this, it’s probably best to send me home in a yellow cab IMMEDIATELY, hopefully with a reliable enough friend. NOT A DUDE I DON’T KNOW. PLEASE. NOT THAT. ANYTHING BUT THAT.

Thank you for your time. You’re an angel of mercy.


A Completely Trashed Version of Myself

*Backslide, UrbanDictionary definition: [verb] to have sex with someone you were previously dating or hooking up with, specifically after a falling out or bad breakup (tends to make things more complicated)