The Manners Fandom

snobs julian fellowesI choose Snobs at the library entirely because it’s by Julian Fellowes, from Downton Abbey, and I was not disappointed.

Snobs is sort of a double comedy of manners, half titled Brits surrounded by those who wish they were too, and half actors, surrounded by those who wish they were too. Lots of quiet desperation and coded behaviors and people insisting they’re not at all snobbish. So many scenes where one person said “My dear, would you like to stay for dinner?” and the other person realized it actually meant “We’re starving, go home now so we can eat.”

The other night, I was talking to a colleague about keeping harmonious office relations, how I like to say “Where should I look for *essential information you promised me last week*?” or “Who should I ask for *thing we both know is your job*?” so that no one loses face. It’s a holdover from my Chinese days, even though in Beijing, it cracked me up when my entire department was treated to a lecture on the importance of conserving electricity, rather that one individual being reminded to shut off the lights when leaving.

This phrasing is about good relationships in the danwei, and is a bit different from a required amount of pleasant smalltalk about weather and mutual acquaintance before getting to the actual point, which is how Southerners do guanxi. I don’t love forced chitchat, but I kind of love manners and customs that ensure that no one will be accidentally embarrassed or accidentally made uncomfortable. Only on purpose.

If you are also in the manners fandom, you should get Snobs right away.

A while ago, NPR called a show “driveway stories” and the description stayed with me, even thought I don’t remember what show was being praised, because the idea of sitting the car a moment longer than I absolutely must was really weird. But I’ve been excited to get into the car all the week, because driving means finding out what happens next with Edith and Charles!

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2 Responses to The Manners Fandom

  1. Jennette says:

    This is also how my apartment complex handles complaints. If someone was noisy or left trash outside their apartment, everyone in the building gets a general email about it instead of sending a message directly to the offender.

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