When the Crumpet Hits the Fan

What to do, what to do? Oh, how shall I ever master the art of propriety in prim company? How could I possibly survive tea with the Queen unscathed? A party with the pope?


What a to-do!

I am gravely impaired when it comes to knowing the correct fork to use for each course, and even worse at knowing what to say among polite folk when moments of acute stress arise. Sadly, the first phrases that come to mind tend to be blurted out with a certain Anglo-Saxon bluntness at best, and I’ve not yet met any such bell that could be un-rung. I sigh.


Is it possible to evade the blades?

There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to Be Myself without descending into silliness and horrendously incorrect Be-havior when I think the stakes are high. Need to impress the boss, make points with a priest, or conquer the king? I’m a lost little sheep. Yes, sheepish I can do. But I do crave approval enough that sometimes I’d really love to be able to gloss over that talent of mine for being a goofball and the unintentional class clown and show a bit more couth and culture, now, wouldn’t I.


Looking foolish, yes, I can do that quite well, but maybe it's just not my cup of tea!

Etiquette coaching? Charm school? Ah, yes, that could all be useful. A kick in the trousers, oh, certainly. A severe talking-to by the headmistress, a careful and thorough study of the Encyclopedia of How to be Apropos, and perhaps a stint in niceness boot camp? Surely all fine and superb ideas and likely to make some improvements in my movements, so to speak. That’s all well and good, but it’s still not going to cure my natural awkwardness and inclination to curl up in a little pill-bug defense pose when faced with imperfection at the exact moment when I wanted to pose as little-miss-perfect. What!!

digitally doctored photo

I believe it's time to get the spinning to stop.

As it happens, I suspect the solution is pretty simple, after all. First step: how about getting over the idea that I can or should be perfect? Hmmm, I think maybe I could do that. I don’t doubt it’d be a healthy approach. Then there’s the useful thought of getting over the whole idea that I can or should convince others that I’m perfect. Aha. A very useful thing to do. What are they going to do, disown me? Refuse to be in the same room? Ha! Crotchety critics and conditional friends? Those are people I don’t want or need in my life! Good for me, if they don’t want to be in it in the first place.

Funny, but when I get thinking straight on the whole topic, it’s not I but rather the focal point that shifts. I realize that what worries me is not whether I can be perfect, not how to be perfect, certainly not how to convince anyone else I’m perfect–especially when I’ve already responded to my frequent-flyer-faux-pas by blurting out the perfectly outlandish verbal proof that reality is so otherwise. It’s more important to me, after all, to let go of all those improbable if not impossible perfectionist worries and know that being my ordinary, fallible, perfectly acceptable plain old self is a better prophylactic against embarrassment and rejection than any other, because it will help insure that I’m in the best company–for me. And I thank you all! [ . . . she cried out with a deep curtsey, tripping on the hem of her gown and cartwheeling down the grand staircase with that massive arrangement of stargazer lilies that she’d knocked over shooting out right over the top of her, and she, all the while, swearing in the most violent purple terms before finally coming to rest in a mangled and guffawing heap, upright and cross-legged, on the marble floor of the foyer, a chipped Limoges teacup improbably perched on top of her once-coiffed head . . . .]

27 thoughts on “When the Crumpet Hits the Fan

  1. I think you would do very well in the company of any King or Queen Kathryn. For a long time I too strived for perfection, however there comes a point when you realise perfectionism is not in the human condition, we all have our flaws…Ultimately, you have to endeavour to be the best version of yourself, (not always easy I know) and from what I can gather you seem to be doing a pretty good job of that…😊

    Lovely post for a Sunday morning, have a nice day! 😊

    • You are so sweet! (It happens that I *have* met a king and queen and gone to a banquet with them and I *didn’t* die OR cause an international incident, so apparently I’m not entirely without emergency management skills! πŸ™‚ )

      You have a grand week, my friend!

    • What an incredibly kind thing to say, Anyes! I’ll just have to be childish and say, ‘It takes one to know one!’ πŸ˜‰

      I couldn’t agree more: To thine own self be true! (Wish I’d invented that saying, but since I didn’t I had to take the above path of much more wordy wandering to say so in a post.)

  2. Currently having a flash back, to being 16, attempting to glide serenely down the stairs from the balcony at church after the service…and winding up sliding down most of them on my butt.
    So much for grace…
    My dear friend, the church organist, used to say, “I know I’m going to screw something up, so I try to get it out of the way quickly…”
    Have a good rest-of-the-weekend!

    • Harks back to my piano teacher’s admonition to make my mistake sound like I Meant To Do It. A good repetition to seal the deal! (Even if it makes the piece a train wreck, it could conceivably divert the spotlight from ME making the mistake.)

      The weekend has been great, thank you, and I did *not* play the piano at any time therein. Correlation? Not sure. πŸ˜‰

  3. a) there are NO rules. b) cutlery: start from the outside of the line up, matching the fork (and knife by the way) with the course. It is actually quite easy. c) Nonchalance. My dad always said be nonchalant, looking confident and calm and doing whatever you please with a big grin gets them every time..d) Do not TOUCH the queen. c

    • I can’t confirm or deny any of the first three points you make (being aware of them in a general way and being able to put them in practice don’t always coincide for me!)–but I do know about (d). Actually, when instructed by the Secret Service agents, it was all about Do Not Touch the Queen’s HAIR. No kidding! As if any of us were going to suddenly dart out a hand while being introduced and give a tug on her hairsprayed fringe or something! No thank you! Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth may have different protocols indeed–HM Sonja of Norway was perfectly content to shake hands with us ordinaries, as long as we knew the hands-off-hair rule. Go figure. πŸ™‚

  4. To thine own self be true and watch those long hems and stairs! I once tripped over my every so huge bell bottom pants on some steps and nearly landed on top of one of the deans. Gathered myself together quickly smiled and ran like hell!

    • Oh, *yes*, I’ve done that ballet too! My version was to “ski”, in a foot-forward arabesque, on water-slicked high heels, to my early morning class, skirts a-flying, arms windmilling, just *after* the class start time, and see that the only empty seat left (when I’d almost recovered my balance and everybody had already enjoyed my grand entrance) was on the far side of the front row. Stop, take a deep bow, make self as small as molecularly possible, slink to chair. Sigh. Ain’t we grand! I’d trade videos with you if we had ’em!! πŸ˜€

  5. I have my moments when I am opening my mouth and inserting my foot. But I don’t worry too much about it; everyone knows I am a klutz, a stooge, the woman who says the dumb stuff – and though most won’t admit it, they are are same way – they just hide it better than I. As my pastor says, “The problem with most of us is that we’re like the rest of us.”
    And I am channeling Beavis and Butthead right now: she said “prophylactic…”

  6. In the Colonies that we call New England, when the fertilizer contacts the rotary oscillator, it’s fashionable to look the other way, pretend nothing happened, and then blame the nearest bystander.

    This technique is not often effective, but it is highly entertaining.


    • Ah, yes, the old ‘Don’t worry, Lady, I’ll tell ’em *I* did it!’ head fake. πŸ™‚ Of course, I’ve only *heard* about this from, um, Other People. πŸ˜‰

      Nice to meet you, Mr. Zee!

  7. We all tend to worry about such inconsequential things. How many, on their death bed, have expressed remorse over using the salad fork for the fish course? Life is just too short.

  8. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder and so, go forth and behold your own perfection. Nothing else matters.

    • Well, from one perfectly outstanding woman to another I say, Thank you very kindly; you’ve said it just right. It *is* a truly fine thing to feel perfectly happy As-Is!! πŸ™‚

  9. Hi there:) Gone for three days and just look what you’ve been up to, Missy! Have you gotten yourself into trouble or some embarrassing situation that I should know about?? Hmmm?? Lol, just kidding, I have fond memories of skidding down some white carpeted stairs with red wine glass in hand a few Christmases ago… it looked like an Agatha Christie murder scene. As guests arrived, I was on hands and knees with soaked towels trying to save the carpet…poor little cinderella…

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