Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The lecherous Louis XIV and scandalous life of Emily Post

We tend not to think of the lecherous, red heeled Louis XIV and Emily Post as having similarities, but the two did share one common goal - étiquette.

Louis pretty much invented etiquette to deal with his ill mannered friends. Every time Louis’ courtiers came over to the palace, they would trample the lawn, throw trash everywhere, frolic in the shrubbery, and pee in the fountains. So Louis had the brilliant idea to place little signs or “etiquettes” all over the palace grounds telling people how to behave. And it actually worked. The lawns looked greener, the fountains looked less yellowish, and the shrubbery….well, let’s just say that there was a reason why it was so tall.  


Flash forward many centuries later to the family operated, end-all to be-all on etiquette – The Emily Post institute. 

Emily Post wasn’t the Gatsbyesque miss that most people think of today. She rocked out on her banjo, hobnobbed with Mark Twain, and cared little for what fork to use during the salad course. Her husband had a fondness for chorus girls that culminated in their divorce in 1905. Instead of retreating in shame from the scandal, Post published her best selling Etiqutte in 1922. It is still today the second most stolen book from the library (the Bible is the first.) And while most of its advice would require you have a maid and a few token butlers, other advice still rings true today. For example;

"Ethically the only chaperon is the young girl’s own sense of dignity and pride; she who has the right attributes of character needs no chaperon—ever."

Dignity and Pride. Not much has changed since Louis XIV demanded people stop peeing in the fountain.