Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Romance and Etiquette Go Hand in Hand

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Romance and Etiquette Go Hand in Hand

Article excerpt

J.Lo. Britney. "The Bachelor." "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance." "Who Wants to Marry A Millionaire/My Dad/My Therapist/Dennis Kucinich."

If you watch TV or read entertainment news, as I get paid to (talk about hazardous jobs), it's easy to get the feeling that the only people who take traditional mating rituals seriously anymore are the ones who aren't legally permitted to get married.

Have we become disengaged?

I asked Peter Post, great-grandson of the formidable Emily Post, original queen of etiquette. He has gone into the family business as a director of the Emily Post Institute, which has, I'll bet, the most flawlessly polite receptionists in captivity.

It took some courage to talk to a Post. As punishment for some childhood outrage, my father decreed that I was to read a chapter of Emily Post's "Etiquette" every evening until I was civilized.

I bogged down somewhere around the section on when a gentleman lifts his hat.

Peter Post is the author of "Essential Manners for Men: What to do, when to do it and WHY." He is not easily flummoxed. And he is unfazed by the famous.

"There's some pretty crazy stuff going on out there," he acknowledged. "But the length of the average engagement is 14 months. That tells me couples are taking the time to make sure that the commitment is serious."

The antics of celebrities and exhibitionists are "not a reflection of society as a whole," Post soothed. "Fourteen-month engagements, that shows that traditions are important."

Or that chocolate fountains are booked way in advance.

According to a recent poll, more men than women (51 percent vs. 39 percent) agree that it's important to follow tradition when proposing. (You know, getting down on one knee, asking for her hand, as opposed to, say, spelling out MARRY ME BARB in anchovies on a frozen pizza.)

Also, 86 percent of men agree that it's more important for a proposal to be romantic (moonlight, our song) than for it to be elaborate (mimes, scuba gear).

The emphasis on romance probably leads to the preference for tradition. The traditional proposal has tested well on women; women seem to find it romantic. …

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