MS. BEHAVING believes that knowing the right thing to do can make the difference between making a travel memory happy...or wince-inducing.
Her kidskin-gloved hand is extended to help you navigate treacherous travel times with confidence and elan. She is very pleased with your etiquette questions; do keep them coming, my dears! For now:
A READER WRITES: Recently I placed my carefully-wrapped Finnish crystal in the overhead bin above my seat; then a man with a huge wheelie stomped up the aisle and heaved the bag up without looking, smushing away. Aside from hating him enroute, what could I have done?
MS. BEHAVING REPLIES: Kudos to you for being considerate and placing your belongings in the bin above your very own row! Now for a moment of consideration for the lug who probably just made the plane by the skin of his teeth and cares not a whit for your bibelots: Ms. Behaving believes in kind vigilance on the road. When you see this situation start to unfold, your petite self should speak up sweetly before he heaves the bag. (If you’re a man, forget the petite part and concentrate on your sweet side.) Let him know you have a fragile package up there and… might you help him with his luggage so that nothing will break and everything will fit? Trust her: this approach will melt and shame him at the same time and all will be well. You may even make a new friend.
A READER WRITES: I’ve been invited to a French home for dinner. Sacre vache! What should I bring as a thank you?
MS. BEHAVING REPLIES: Lucky you! In France this invitation is a gesture of acceptance. Please do NOT bring the wine, as the French pride themselves on their cuisine and wine pairing. Showing up with a bottle of Chateau Quelquechose will only make them think you’re questioning their choices. Flowers will be there aussi – don’t second-guess the posies. Ms. Behaving – convinced she was French in another life – has observed that your hosts would be grateful for something, well, French: a box of Ladurée macaroons, some candied fruits from Hediard, a tin of caviar from Petrossian or Caviar Kaspia. (Yes, something tasteful they can enjoy when you’ve left). And s'il vous plaît, do not shriek “Bon appetit!” at the start of dinner … or offer clever toasts. This is their party, you are their guest, and you should follow their lead . Respond but don’t initiate -- doesn’t that make your job as guest easier? Enjoy and sante!
WHAT’S YOUR QUANDARY? Have questions about etiquette, local or global travel customs or awkward moments on the road? Fear not! Ms. Behaving is ready to answer. Send your queries (putting "Ms. Behaving" in the subject line) here.
Photo above: Ms. Behaving at Royal Ascot.