Sometimes it just isn’t your fault. You either got caught up in traffic and missed the surprise party, got held up at work and couldn’t make the 8 o’clock reservations, or caught a nasty flu-like illness and had to miss your best friend’s wedding. These things happen, and sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. However, at other times, you certainly could have done something. Quite a bit.
But you forgot.
Or, even worse, you didn’t feel like it.
Here is a list of 6 different social situations when you either screw up, forget, or simply cannot be bothered – and things you have to do and etiquette protocols you have to follow to mitigate the collateral damage.
1. Missing your mother-in-law’s birthday
There is nothing to be done here.
Sorry, but you have made a grave mistake – and you are in it all alone. You have fallen into the chasm and Lovecraft’s very own C’thulu has wrapped its tentacles around you, dragging you ever deeper into darkness. Mothers-in-law are not ‘normal’ people. They possess the uncanny ability to notice everything, to know everything, and most troubling of all, to remember everything.
Whatever advice you have been given on this particular situation, forget it. Better yet, forget everything – your job, your hobbies, your home, your identity.
Because she won’t. Regardless of your relationship with your mother-in-law, from that point on you will live in constant fear that the incident will, at some point, pop up somewhere and bite you. In addition, it will never die down, no matter how hard you try. Except…
“Yes, anything, please help me.”
Except… you might send your mother-in-law a card or a bouquet from Hipper every now and then (which will only make the conflagration burn with less intensity, never completely douse it), and thus extend your lease on the relationship with her.
2. Laughing at a funeral
This is intuitive enough that it should not warrant a separate paragraph, but hey, you never know people (not you, people in general).
As stated, don’t do it.
If, for whatever reason (stress, sadness, anxiety), you start feeling a giggle mounting on, step outside and keep your dignity intact.
People laugh in uncomfortable situations because their brain sometimes uses laughter as a defense mechanism against other, more difficult emotions, but in this situation, you would be branded as someone who is incredibly immature, rude, without a modicum of respect for the deceased and their family and friends for the rest of your life.
Hold it in.
3. Meeting your significant other’s ex
There is only one way to act when you are meeting your partner’s ex – with dignity.
Be moderately polite, courteous and witty (but not too much).
Look them in the eye, smile, nod, shake hands with them firmly, and do tell them it was very nice to meet them. Don’t you dare ignore them, make remarks, act as if you are better than them, etc., as that will only make you look like a weak and immature person in both the eyes of the ex and your partner.
The etiquette requires the craft and cunning of a Bengal tiger in the mountains of India or a cougar in the Amazon jungle. In other words, you have to be perfectly prepared, agile, and intelligent.
First of all, pay attention to your surroundings – is it a closed space, how big it is, are there people inside, whom do you have to deceive? Secondly, you have to quickly assess what kind of image you want to project – do you want to be the person who was the first to notice it (therefore establishing an alibi, however flimsy, and shifting the blame from yourself), the person who is completely unaffected by it, or the one who starts eyeing people down angrily – accusing everyone in turn?
One and only rule – whatever you do, don’t admit to anything. You’ll be fine. They have no proof.
5. Forgetting the name of a person you’ve met before
This one can be either very simple or very tricky to deal with.
In a casual, everyday conversation when you chance upon the person in the street, you most probably won’t be prompted to use their name at any given point throughout the conversation – seeing as the weather, politics or their beautiful new handbag do not require you to address them by name.
A very vague–
“Hey, how are you?”
“Oh, hi, where are you off to?”
“Hi, how have you been, I haven’t seen you in a while?”
–will do perfectly well in most situations. But if you end up having to introduce them to a newcomer to the conversation, then it might get a bit awkward. There are ways around it, though.
“Have you guys met?”
This line is going to save you. They will immediately feel the urge to introduce themselves, in order to break the ice and avoid potential embarrassment. Good work.
6. Your colleague’s birthday is tomorrow and you have no present
‘Why, how wonderful and convenient for you! Here at Hipper you can purchase beautiful cards, gorgeous flowers, and lovely birthday balloons – and have it all delivered the next day to an address of your choosing!’
Okay, in all seriousness, it is great that technology now allows you to purchase things off the internet and have them delivered to your doorstep as soon as possible. Is this the capitalist’s wet dream? Yes, it is, but it’s also a much more convenient way to shop for things. Whatever your predicament may be – forgetting to buy a card or a present for a birthday, a baby shower, your friend’s promotion, this and that and everything in between, sites like Hipper have got you covered.
Don’t be the only one at the office tomorrow to show up without a present, or even worse, with nothing but a gas station air freshener.