Miss Manners finally replied to my letter! I sent it in about a year ago and just as I was thinking of reprinting my "tour manners" article* here since it is the height of local home and garden tour season, I saw that my long-forgotten letter and her reply are published in today's Washington Post. It is about the extremely irritating practice of folks on home tours not allowing others to come out of a room, come through a door, or come down a set of stairs, but instead just barge on through and create a bottleneck.
I'm volunteering this Sunday at the Takoma Park House & Garden Tour. (At left, is a photo I took at last year's TP tour.) I'm going to be stationed inside the front entrance of one of the tour homes. I requested a home with a garden and to be up front as I think answering garden questions, should folks have them, would be useful to tour attendees. I'm anticipating a lot of the "What is this?" type of pointing and many queries along the line of "What don't deer eat?" It will be interesting to see a tour from the "other side" as I'm an avid tour-attendee myself and have lost track how many I've been on.
Lately though I've become very weary of the home/house part of these tours, I guess that should not be surprising given my gardening passion. But I really used to love seeing the insides of homes just as much as their grounds. Always fascinating to see what choices people make and how folks really live -- at least the polished up for company version. On the last few tours, I practically had to force myself to go inside some homes just to be polite and show interest or to get my tour pass validated.
Why the change of heart? I think it is first that so many renovated "historic" homes are the same these days and it starts to get really repetitive and boring. Same granite countertop, stainless steel appliances, Restoration Hardware gray walls, Crate & Barrel linens, etc. Snore. Everyone seems to shop from the same places and use the same catalogs. And don't get me started on the ubiquitous IKEA -- I have a real love-hate thing going with them...
The second reason I'm getting tired of the house portion of the tours is all the exausting stair-climbing coupled with the frustrating doorway/staircase traffic jams. When I'm on a tour, I move my ass. I do not dawdle. I want to see it all and get it done before the tour hours end -- in some case a real Sisyphean task! Which brings me full-circle back to my letter to Miss Manners. I never felt an urge to write to her before, though I've enjoyed her column for years (decades!). In this case though after writing my "tour manners" piece, I wanted to see what a real etiquette maven would say on the subject. I'm pleased to see she generally agrees with me and shares my plight. And maybe the publication of it at just the right seasonal timing will alert a few of the buffoons who might not know better.
*The "tour manners" article originally appeared in the May 18, 2006 edition of the Washington Examiner newspaper. If you would like to read the original piece, send me an email and I"ll forward a PDF of it. If you are running a local home and garden tour and would like to reprint it for the event, just let me know and I will forward the reprint permission version.