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Five Great Lessons From Finishing School: pt 5, Meeting (the same) New People | Manolo for the Big Girl

Five Great Lessons From Finishing School: pt 5, Meeting (the same) New People

It is never,  never  nice to meet me.

What, never?

No, never.

What, never?

Hardly ever.

Let me paint you a little picture. Last night I was the guest at a excruciatingly swank benefit in support of Conspirare, a wonderful vocal ensemble based right here in the City of the Violet Crown and was doing the regular huggy kissy smoochy schmoozy thing you do when you’re at that sort of shindig and you’ve given up deflowering busboys for Lent. I was teetering around on my recently rediscovered pony hair and crocodile Zanottis, looking good and feeling gorgeous as one so often does and making the social rounds.

Zanotti pony hair scoop wedge sandals

I bump into a familiar face. Now, this isn’t someone I know well, but he is a colleague and we’ve walked in and out of the same building roughly the same time for the past seven years. We’ve shared copy editors (not in the biblical sense) and had a conversation or two. I know, for example, we hail from the same hometown.

“Mike, how are you?!”

“Hi! I’m Mike Lastname, nice to meet you.”

See right there? That was a fail. Unless you know for a gospel truth there is no possible way you have never met this person anywhere before — not in college, not at the post office, not in a police lineup as a suspect for carving “Rowan Hearts Plumcake” on the great doors of Canterbury Cathedral EVEN THOUGH IT’S TOTALLY TRUE– you do NOT say “nice to meet you.”

Why?

Let’s return to our story:


“Hi! I’m Mike Lastname, nice to meet you.”

“Yes I know, I’m Plumcake, we’ve worked in the same building for seven years. You lived in Bethesda, right?”

“How do you know that?”

“Because we talked about it.”

I found it hilarious and was having a big time busting his chops for not remembering me  — I mean how many shatteringly brilliant, immaculately dressed violet-haired* glamazons do you think work at your average daily newspaper?– but what if I’d actually been offended? There’s really no recovering from that.  At the very least you make an ass out of yourself, and at worst you suffer cold and stony silences followed by nothing but  Sad Single People frozen dinners with your cat for the duration of that social season while all your friends drink bad wine and pretend to enjoy it for charity.

Repeat after me:

“It’s so nice to see you.”

“How are you?”

“That  is a fabulous brooch/necklace/tie.”

(if you’re being introduced by a third party) And how do you know SoAndSo?

Or, my particular favorite:

“Weren’t we in prison together?”

(This can be deployed to great effect with the right delivery. If you HAVE met, it’ll feel like an inside joke. If you haven’t, it’s just a quirky opening line.)

Now what do you do when someone has made the unthinkable error of not remembering you?

Remind them.

“I believe we have met…weren’t you at the Kidneys for Kennedys fundraiser last year in Miami?”

“I c0uld have sworn we were introduced at Bitsy’s arraignment last March, or else she’s not the only who needs to stop drinking before noon.”

Don’t do what I did and state matter-of-factly that you have met.

Unless the delivery is right it can come across as hostile and although that’s tempting, it’ll make you seem like a boor instead of the gracious creature you are.

If the other person still doesn’t remember. Breezily reply that maybe it was just wishful thinking, make your excuses (unless you really want to talk to them) and move on.

Well, that concludes our five great finishing school lessons. I hope you liked them.  There were several I didn’t get to do: how to talk to strangers, how to sit down like a lady (trickier than you’d think), and advanced table manners for dinner parties.

*Yes, I have my own violet crown instead of my normal Superman blue. Yes, I still look fabulous. No, I am not yet emotionally prepared to discuss it although I WILL say that if one is not sure whether one has the correct color for one’s client, it might behoove one to check BEFORE YOU’VE BLEACHED HER HAIR.

19 Responses to “Five Great Lessons From Finishing School: pt 5, Meeting (the same) New People”

  1. Wendy April 28, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    I have a TERRIBLE memory for names and only a slightly better one for faces, now (though I was much better when I was a sweet young thing. It usually takes at least three encounters for me to remember the name, the face, and the context of a recent acquaintance. And the only person who ever said to me, “yes, we’ve met, I’m X” is the only person I’ve ever met who went to finishing school. Swiss, in this case. :)

    Point taken, though, Plummie. I’ve concealed my horrid memory as best I could since then, and never said “nice to meet you” unless I’m quite sure it’s the first time.

    Oh, and I have violet hair! By choice, in my case. With a bit of fuchsia and blonde thrown in for fun. ;)

  2. JenniferP April 28, 2010 at 10:55 am #

    I’m loving this series – continue! I don’t know how to sit like a lady!

    Like @Wendy, sometimes I’m terrible with names, but the thing I’ve found that works best with people I know I’ve met once but not interacted with heavily is to say “I remember *you*, but your name is escaping me – could you remind me?”

    Once of the terrible side-effects of being this fabulous – people remember me better than I remember them, but I try to use Plumcake’s advice – “So nice to see you again, how is that (thing we talked about last time going) – forgive me, I remember you and that you just got a new cat (or other factoid), but in this crowd your name is escaping me. Thank you so much. Can I get you a drink?”

  3. klee April 28, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    Love the series, love the video link. More, please!

  4. wildflower April 28, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    This has been a great series, Plumcake! Thank you!

  5. Peaches April 28, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

    I encounter a ton of people and dont remember most of the. I aslo make the local news several times a year so Im never sure if weve met or you just think we have because my face is familiar to you. ‘Its nice to see you’ has worked beautifully for me.

    Thank you for this series!!! Please give us more….more…more!

  6. Friv April 28, 2010 at 3:32 pm #

    Plummy, you violet-crowned dear, right at this very minute I am NOT SITTING LIKE A LADY. I have one foot tucked up never-you-mind-where, and there is unmistakable sprawlage. I beg you to continue the virtual Finishing School, for my own good.

  7. Plumcake April 28, 2010 at 4:06 pm #

    @Frivs, what would Saint Larry say?!

  8. Friv April 28, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    Larry wept.

  9. KLauren April 28, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    Loving this series, Plumcake! Been “lurking”, umm, reading for about 6 months and this is my first reply.
    I’m a costumer, so I meet alot of people and then see them again at various events and around town. So now that I know the proper way to greet someone, I guess I’m gonna have to quit with the “I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on” or “I’m sure I’ve dressed you before” or other such nonsense.
    Seriously, I do have trouble with these sorts of things – I wish you would continue the series, if we’re voting, put me down for – love it, may I have some, please??

  10. Abby April 28, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    Re the violet hair, pictures or it didn’t happen beloved Plumcake. Plus I’ve been mulling the “am I too old for hair of a color not found in nature” question for awhile, so. Pictures. (Though I suspect our fearless leader is quite a big younger than I am. cough. 45.)

  11. Lisa April 28, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    Well, the good news is that lent is over, thank heaven, and we can all go back to deflowering anybody who is flowered rather than suffer through social occasions.

    This is hard hard hard for me, and people get very upset if you don’t remember them. You are the Bad, Self-Important Professor if you don’t remember Every Single Student You’ve Ever Had Ever. Problem is, I teach about 400 students a year, I’ve been teaching for six years, and you do the math there. Then there are the recruiting dinners and lunches and speaking engagements with hundreds of people and book readings, etc. which never have hundreds of people but you feel like you do hundreds of them. I like to think I am a good proffie, but unless a student has been excellent or really kept up the acquaintance, I can’t always remember the name.

  12. Mifty April 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    Also: …we can all go back to deflowering anybody who is flowered rather than suffer through social occasions.

    That makes me happy.

  13. Susan April 28, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

    So what ever happened to exchanging rgetorical “How do you do?s . . .upon meeting or introduction?

  14. Cat April 29, 2010 at 1:03 pm #

    This series was very timely for me, Plumcake. Since you began it, I have had occasion to write a thank-you note, send a condolence letter (unfortunately), meet new people and people I’d met before at a social function, and accept several compliments. The condolence letter post was particularly useful to me. I referred to it while writing my letter yesterday. Thank you for this series!

  15. Plumcake April 29, 2010 at 2:09 pm #

    @Susan, I think that comes off as a little stuffy. I’m all for old-fashioned, (and Old Fashioneds) but not for stuffiness.

    @Lisa I feel your pain, it’s like we all remember our fifth grade teachers, but how many of them would remember us? It’s an unfair expectation.

    @Abby, I am thirty years old and the only reason I’m doing unnatural color now is I’m old enough to afford the the ENDLESS maintenance to keep it looking salon perfect but young enough so it doesn’t look like I’m trying to be young. I’d say arbitrarily that 35-55 are the No Go years of unnatural hair color.

    @KLauren I’m so glad you’ve delurked. I would definitely skip anything that had sexual overtones, it’s about making that person feel comfortable, and not everyone does innuendo comfortably (btw send us photos of your costuming. I want to see! Unless it’s Renaissance stuff.)

  16. Lisa April 29, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    Plumcake…I’m a bit older than you and I’d argue it’s ok to go with unnatural color for a bit longer than 35. All grey at 40 just ages you needlessly.

  17. zuzu April 29, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    I seem to have the opposite problem, where people I’ve never met before insist they know me. Usually I can just disabuse them of this notion, but I had one encounter in law school with a drunk woman who INSISTED I’d been in her graduate seminar the semester previous. No matter how much I assured her that, no, I wasn’t in her grad program, and, really, this was the very first day I’d ever set foot in the state of Michigan, she just wouldn’t let up and I finally just had to leave.

    Later on, I did find out that I had a doppelganger on campus, but I never actually saw her.

    Violet hair, hm? I’ve often wished I had the lifestyle that would support screamingly unusual haircolors, but alas. I’ll save it for when I’m 80 and can do whatever the hell I want because I plan on being a terrifying old lady.

  18. Plumcake April 30, 2010 at 12:20 am #

    @Lisa, I meant unnatural color like my beloved superman blue or the less beloved but growing-on-me violet. I think there are a good two decades in there where the average gal is too old for Young and Quirky and too young for Old and Quirky.

  19. Constance April 30, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    Miz Plumcake,

    This post reminds me of the day a brother introduced me to the gloriously flaxen Fran, a young man with whom I had shared a joint on occasion. Fran replied that he already knew me. I quipped, “But not biblically!”

    Thank you for giving me the okay to use unnatural colors in my hair. I’m thinking of allowing it to grow out to its silvery brilliance and then going for burgundy.