Congeniality is Better Built than Bought
Our Dear Friends,
Many of us have this idea that if we only acquire the right number of dollars we will be universally loved and held in high esteem. Not so, says Emily Post, and we wholeheartedly agree.
Think of your “friend” who speaks of nothing but his financial successes and ambitions and wonders of nothing but your own. Then recall that most beautiful of Audrey Hepburn’s characters, Liza DoLittle, the flower girl-turned-lady of best society in My Fair Lady. Even in the opening scenes, as she belts out unmitigated, almost incomprehensible noises exclaiming her most base desires, we love her. It’s not because she’s wealthy, but because we share in her desires – all she wants is a comfortable place to lay her head next to the one she loves and perhaps eat some chocolate when he’s not there to keep her company. Who doesn’t want that?
And when the well-studied Austrian linguist Zoltan Karpathy attempts to defame DoLittle after she appears as a lady at the ball, we love her more. We immediately sense Karpathy’s skin-deep polish is no match for her sincerity. In reality, both Karpathy and DoLittle are social climbers, but no one with a pulse and a touch of humanity would place DoLittle in this category. Instead, we see she really is a lady, while Karpathy is little more than the dirt beneath her feet.
If there’s one lesson that makes Emily Post’s book worth a good read for all, it’s the one we learn in the story of My Fair Lady. As Post says in her chapter called “One’s Position in the Community,” “what would be the use of Celia Lovejoy’s beauty if it depended on the continual variation in her clothes?” We don’t know who Celia Lovejoy is, but we like her already and so would you. When you sense yourself living a sham, remember this lesson we’ve learned time and time again, and you’ll go far because people will genuinely know you and not your pocket book.
Peter & Alexander