What I Did on My Summer Staycation, Part 1 and Why Demita Usher Will be Guest Blogging

A week or so ago, some of you noticed that Demita Usher, a "guest blogger" was announced on my blog.  To those of you who asked; Yes, I am still recovering. and No, I am still not throwing in the towel on my health just yet. Do let me explain...

Many of you know I have had a challenging summer that has continued on into fall. Each of the past few years has been a doozy, however this past summer was particularly strange (hosting a birthday party and having to go to bed just as the guests were arriving? Yes, that was a fun evening! Missed the whole party. The next day I heard everyone had a great time though, and I didn't wind up in the ER.) All that being said, this past summer was particularly wonderful too! That is what I am going to focus on.  In three parts.  Let Part One begin...
Demita Usher of Demita's School of Social Graces and Savoir Faire

It all actually started one evening in late May. Most everyone had left from a family birthday dinner for my son when my phone rang. We were all settling in to watch a movie downstairs, but I took the call upstairs, saying I'd only be on the phone a few minutes.  

Three hours later, (yes three!) I came back downstairs. The first thing my son said was, "Mom... You were on the phone for three hours!" I agreed, yes, I certainly had been. Then I went on to tell him that I had just had an incredible conversation with someone exactly like me. "She thinks exactly like me! It was so strange to talk with someone and feel an instant connection. We could finish each others' sentences." Cliff asked if she was an etiquette instructor. I told him no, that she wasn't, but wants to be and that she had acquired an amazing collection of etiquette books over the years and even had the Wendy Ward Charm School record albums! I didn't even know they had made albums! My big sister only had the book. I was impressed.

Training and getting to know Demita has been an incredible delight. She is like the identical twin sister I never had, if that identical twin sister was 3 inches taller, black and about 16 years younger than me. Oh yes, and if my twin was engaged to be married and moving to Europe next year, which grieves me to no end. Friends who have moved only one or two states away are hard enough to see, but another continent? I am guessing we will have to curtail the 3 hour phone conversations.

For weeks we have been having one or two marathon 14 hour days together, during which we work, discuss etiquette, discuss history, she picks my brain and I make suggestions on films and books, etc...  She has been with me on doctor appointments, medication runs, physical therapy appointments, helps me with grocery shopping, etc... We eat, watch movies and t.v. shows pertinent to etiquette (yes... there was that one Grey's Anatomy episode that I slipped in, but she enjoyed it just the same). We did go to see "The Help", the first movie I had seen in a theater in four years. I had been wanting her to meet my daughter, and as she is here so little of the time lately, I jumped at the opportunity to put the three of us together when my daughter had the odd afternoon off.

After a long discussion of the movie, and with Demita so understanding of my health situation, along with wanting to immerse herself in etiquette and the whole surrounding culture as much as possible, I asked and she agreed to guest blog on all of the movies, books and other reading material I have been recommending. The first movie and book Demita thought of covering was "The Help"

And while I am on the subject please allow me to thank Monica, the substitute teacher I met by chance at Gebhart International, who offered me her hard copy of the book as I had not yet read it.  Said she cheerfully, "I have the book in my car and was going to drop it off as a donation somewhere. Would you like it?  It is really good." So many, many thanks to Monica!

But it was the discussion of another movie that Demita asked me about which led to her first review, comparing two different films portraying similar social issues and the pressures that social forces and "the accepted norm" place on women and men in society. I will be posting her review tomorrow. In the meantime, you can enjoy Demita's humor regarding something from Emily Post's first book. 

She has a copy, as do I, of the well-known blue book on etiquette. She hadn't read a lot of it though, which started a discussion of my favorite authors on etiquette (Amy Vanderbilt and Letitia Baldridge... the real stuff, not the revised-by-someone-else stuff) and I shared with her one of the many funny bits I had found in Emily's well known work.  This line nearly always bring me to tears with laughter. In a section on dinner table etiquette, Emily in her first book gave this admonishment, "Saucers for vegetables are contrary to all etiquette." "Huh?!?", was my first response upon reading the missive. Seriously?  Saucers for vegetables are contrary to all etiquette? That makes no sense whatsoever.

I can see if one is hosting a dinner party, that throwing food at one's guests would be contrary to all etiquette. Or insulting one's guests would be contrary to all etiquette.  In fact, I can think of at least a hundred and one other things that would be "contrary to all etiquette." Dishes for the vegetables don't come to mind as being something so heinous. Demita sent me this later that evening when she had gotten home-
"Saucers for vegetables are contrary to all things etiquette." I can see it now...........
Circa 1920's
Mrs. Noseintheair: Did you hear about the Kelly's girl? 
Mrs. Oneupmanship: No! What happened? 
Mrs. Noseintheair: Her mother served vegetables on saucers now no man will court her much less marry her.
Mrs. Oneupmanship: Heavens to Betsy! I hope it passes, otherwise future generations will never live it down.
Present Day 
Muffy: OMG did you hear about Tiffany?
Binky: Nooooo! What happend?
Muffy: Her dad tried to join the local country club but they denied him admission, something about his great grandmother and some vegetable saucers or something.
Binky: The nerve of SOME people. Well thank God they caught him before our good clubs name was ruined. By the way does this thong bikini make my behind look big? I don't want to look like a tramp sitting by the pool at the club. 
I loved it! I believe you will enjoy her guest blogging.

Next up... Part Two, with training my first instructor to teach etiquette in Saudi Arabia, the charming Rola Yassine.
Maura Graber & Rola Yassine


  1. Demita Usher sounds terrific! I hope you your health improves soon, Maura.
    And thanks Ms. Ps & Qs for sending me this new post-

  2. So nice to hear you have met your "twin" Will check back for her reviews and share with Dax.


  3. Hello Maura and Demita, I felt like we were all sitting together sipping a cuppa while I read your blog. I laughed so hard with the saucer info and I got teary reading about Demita moving to Europe. Really, when is she moving? I would love to see the movies you suggested, but for now I must get back to work. I so look forward to more blogging with you. Once again, I loved the article. You are so amazing with all of your information. I am always so inspired...... I know Demita must feel like I do. You are one of a kind Maura. Your zest for etiquette is so fantastic! Ok - really - now I must get back to my work. I have a photographer coming to my home very soon to take new pictures for my book. What am I thinking................Take care Maura - feel better - Take care too Demita - I can't wait to meet you in March.


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