Princess Pricklepants’ Continued Guide To Politeness, Manners, Delightfulness, and Grace In Common Situations


Previously: Princess Pricklepants’ Guide To Politeness, Manners, Delightfulness, Grace, and Related Things

Hello again!  We should really have waited a month or two before posting again, since it’s impolite to post to your blog too often, but several readers had emailed in to express their gratitude for our practical and helpful guide to manners, but wondered about manners and politeness in other common situations that could arise besides tea parties.  For instance, they wondered about manners on buses, and in supermarket lines, and when family visited and things along those lines.  Unfortunately hedgehog princesses aren’t the types to ride buses, and the hand servants take care of trips to the market, so she doesn’t have a lot of advice to offer on all of the topics that inquiries were made about, but here she volunteers to you, our gentle readers, a guide to several common social circumstances where questions of manners, politeness, grace, and social grace often come up, with tips, advice, and pointers for navigating the complexities of day-to-day social life with others that were inquired about.

Lesson 1: Catapults

“Dear Princess, I throw tea parties regularly since it is the polite thing to do, but I have become very concerned with the actions of my husband Humperdink.  During these parties he will load our catapult with sugar bowls, cups, small animals and other items and fling them around.  The costs in lost china have begun to really rack up, and I am afraid the ASPCA might show up!  What should I do?”

-Big Trouble With A Little China

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Dear Big Trouble,

At times you might have a guest over (perhaps at a tea party, though perhaps in some other circumstance, for readers who don’t throw tea parties regularly, please ignore any tea party related references, these lessons are still generically valuable) who wishes to test their catapult in your home using your fine china (or other things).

What do you do?

Explain to them that catapulting is an outdoors activity, and recommend they take the catapult and your china outside where it’s appropriate and delightful to fling household objects through the air.  Have fun with it, try suggesting that if they take the catapult outside that they could fling jewel encrusted antiques, rare glasswork, a cat, or other items that would be fun to watch fly, so they are more motivated to move it outside. Please note that cats belong indoors, since outdoor cats can cause environmental harm, injuring and eating native species, so after you’re done flinging the cat, it’s good manners to bring it back in.

-Princess

Lesson 2: Cows on the Couch

“Dear Princess.  I try to be as classy as a lady as I can manage, but I’ve run into something that’s burning me up.  My husband Vern has started bringing his cows inside the darned house!  They even have managed to climb onto the couch!  It’s driving me insane.  What should I do?”

-Flustered With The Cows

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Dear Flustered,

Unfortunately, time and again, we all run into the situation of visitors bringing cattle into our homes, with the cows peacefully grazing atop a couch.

What do you do?

Politely but firmly explain that animals are not permitted on the couch (unless they are hedgehogs), and that it would really be best to leave the cows on the floor.

-Princess

Lesson 3: Passages to Secret Gardens

“Dear Princess P. P., recently my children have started to claim that they’ve discovered a secret door that leads to a magical garden, and go on and on about their fantasy life, neglecting chores, failing to do their homework.  I’ve tried to talk some sense into them, but their odd obsession has started to take over their life.  What do I do?”

-Mom Of The Delusional

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Dear Delusional Mom,

Time and again, youngsters will become very excited at the discovery of a secret door that leads to a mysterious and wonderful secret garden full of mystery and wonder, and excitedly try to enter.

What do you do?

Explain politely, but firmly, that the time for entering into the magical alternate universe full of adventure, wonder, and talking animals (not parrots or hedgehogs, but ones that don’t normally speak) is after one has finished eating all the food on one’s plate, taking care of chores, and completing other responsibilities, and not before.  This will ensure that the important things are done before one wanders off into a realm of infinite possibility and delight.

-Princess

Lesson 4: Witch Accusations

“Dear Princess, I have a tough one.  My daughter, Zenobia, has gotten out of control.  It started with things like pointing out my weight, and has moved to to her angrily ranting.  What do you do with an out of control child? She even called me a witch!”

-Frazzled

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Dear Fraggled,

It’s a sign of our times that it’s become commonplace to find that over a cup of tea, in a spirited debate, or while playing cards, someone will insist that you are a witch.

What do you do?

Find a Witch Scale and weigh the accused to see if they weigh more than a duck.  If you don’t have a duck handy, find something that’s roughly duck-weight, for instance a sugar bowl, and put them to the test.  Since ducks float, this is a very scientific as well as practical way to sort out the answer.

-Princess

Lesson 5: Pirate Treasure Maps

“Dear Princess, my husband works on a cargo ship that’s been traveling through Indonesia and around the Horn of Africa.  There is a lot of piracy in those areas.  I’ve told him that I want to take out insurance, for fear of something terrible happening, but he’s fought it, saying that I should trust him to be able to handle the situation.  I even showed him a web site on the internet with maps of piracy and pointed out how his routes intersect on the map, but he’ll have nothing to do with it.  What should I do?”

-Dreading Pirates Robbing

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Dear Dread Pirate Roberts,

Very often in day to day life, we all run into the situation of having a pirate or two drop by to visit bringing with them a treasure map that leads to untold fortunes in gold and gems.

What do you do?

Remember this simple principle – sharing is caring.  Be sure to arrange to have the booty evenly divided among the survivors of the treasure quest.

Lesson 5.1: Climbing under the table and knocking over the treasure map and some guests.

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It’s considered polite to climb under tables at tea parties, but in pirate negotiations things are a little different.

What do you do if you climb under the table and knock over the map and perhaps a guest?

Say, “excuse me, so sorry to knock over that map (and/or guest), I really didn’t mean to.  I apologize.”  That’s typically all it takes to sooth the feelings of pirate treasure negotiators whose precious map/colleague has been flung to the floor.

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Lesson 5.2: Pirate Treasure Negotiators Fainting

Very often when making deals over treasure, one party might get over-excited and faint/be knocked over to the ground.  This is a very delicate situation.

What do you do?

Offer the fainting/falling party a nice cup of tea, and gently help them back up.  Do not bring up their clumsiness or criticize them for falling just because a table knocked into them.  This is not polite.

Lesson 6: Annoying Photographers

“Dear Princess, I’ve been looking at your photos, and I’ve noticed a few things that I’d like to offer as a helpful critique.

Lighting: It looks like you’re using normal indoor lighting for your photos.  That warm directional lighting is fine for day-to-day life, but photos tend to work better with somewhat cooler color temperatures and more diffused light.  Also having a few sources from different directions can fill shadows nicely.

Perspective: Your photos are often shot from odd and jarring angles.  It’s best to try to get down to the point of view of your subject.

Depth of Field: Many of your photos have a very deep depth of field.  If you shoot with a fast prime you can gather more light in lower light situations and also have attractive blurring (“bokeh”) in your photos.

Sets: You use a lot of pieces for sets in your shots, but they look like you picked toys up from Goodwill.   A few higher quality props and a backdrop would make for much more effective photos, keeping distracting elements out, and making sure that the elements in the frame were compelling.

These are just some constructive tips to help you on your photographic journey.”

-Camera Man

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Dear Photography Male,

There’s little in life that’s more insufferable than some relative/friend/visitor whose gotten a new DSLR or other fancy camera to gush on and on about photography, yammering on about f-stops, trying to show you pictures of birds they’ve taken, and being generally dull and droning about their little hobby. They may also criticize your photos and criticizing your equipment for not being fancy/expensive enough.

What do you do?

Politely but firmly explain that they should find other camera-nerds to ramble on with, since bringing up cameras and photography in polite company is something of a faux-pas. If they keep yammering on, kick them out. Nobody needs a know-it-all photographer being a party-pooper.

Lesson 6.1: Crying Photographers

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After helping photographers learn that they shouldn’t keep going on, and on, and on about their pictures and cameras and lenses and fancy lights and tripods and speed lights and so on they may burst into tears, deeply upset at not being able to drone on autistically about their prime obsession.

What do you do?

Give them a hug, and tell them that it’s OK.  You can also them know that their OCD is probably biological, and there’s little hope for them, but that they have families that care about them, so perhaps they could go off and find them now.  Suggest that people with their afflictions might benefit from a comfort animal.  Also recommend some other hobby, like coin collecting, that highly obsessive anti-social nerds like them might enjoy in the quiet of their home so long as they don’t inflict it on everyone all the time.  Be sure to be polite.

Lesson 7: Pirate Maps

“Dear Princess, I got your reply, but I feel that you didn’t quite understand my question.  I was talking about life insurance, not pirate maps.  I only brought up maps to make the point that the routes my husband was traveling on were areas where modern piracy is a serious issue.”

-Misunderstood

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Dear Misunderstood, Hedgehogs have very poor eyesight, which makes reading much harder for them.  Sorry if there were any misunderstandings.  Due to their poor eyesight, they rely on their sense of smell to guide them.  It smells like you like pirate maps a lot, which is great!  I didn’t exactly have a lesson to offer here, but wanted to show you this lovely and delightful pirate treasure map that I skillfully negotiated away from the others.  Please ignore the dead cow (and the Witch Scale) in the background, the poor lighting, the distracting elements in the scene, and the other things that annoying photographers might bring up.

Relating to your other question smells, here are a few more helpful lessons.

Lesson 7.1: Pirate Map Sharing

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Sometimes when you have a treasure map, others might become interested in it, and interested in joining your grand adventure to seek out the lost treasure of Captain Quillbeard.

What do you do?

Remember that sharing is caring.  Let them join you in the quest, making sure to explain that treasure is only divided among the survivors of the adventure, and cows have been known to have some very unfortunate mishaps on past treasure quests, but that they really are welcome.  Once you’ve formed a team, be sure that you’ve got a strong friendship, and consider mentioning to the cow that they can be kind of passive aggressive, but then don’t.

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Pals.  Good.

Lesson 7.2: Pirate Maps and Crocodiles

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How many times has this happened to you?  You and your cow friend have a treasure map and are getting ready to set off on a grand adventure, when a pair of crocodiles show up and one leaps on you in attack!

What do you do?

Remember the words or Gandhi, MLK, and Thoreau, and suggest that you all go get some ice cream to settle your differences.
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Mmm.  Ice Cream.

Lesson 8: Guests Crocodile Wrestling

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A common event when you have crocodiles at ice cream parties is that a youngster will get a little too excited and begin crocodile wrestling.

What do you do?

Remind the guest of the following:
Alligators and crocodiles are rather different, and generally it’s more dangerous to wrestle with a crocodile.
Explain that while it’s good practice to heavily feed ice cream to either before wrestling them so they are less aggressive, both should be trained before such activities.
Note that it takes a lot of training to be able to safely wrestle them, and that many people are injured by these prehistoric death machines.
Firmly but politely note that like flinging your fine china with a catapult, crocodile wrestling is definitely not an indoor activity.
You should also remind the guest that both crocodile wrestling and alligator wrestling are rather barbaric activities, so while their enthusiasm is understandable, that it is not at all polite to engage in crocodile (or alligator) wrestling at a tea party.
Finally, remind them of the words or Gandhi, MLK, and/or Thoreau, and suggest that they learn to peacefully coexist with the crocodiles.

Here is a helpful illustration of Princess explaining these things to the young crocodile wrestler:
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“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Lesson 9: Weird Guests/Uncles Talking About Ways To Get Many Air Miles and That Sort of Thing

“Dear Princess, my husband is obsessed with collecting air miles and other bonus points.  If I use the wrong credit card to buy some gas, I’ll hear all about it.  He’s starting to use all kinds of weird code words like vanilla, dollar coins, fungibles, 3x, and other things where they are referring to some arcane way to get points.  I do like vacations, but it sometimes feels like the obsession with gathering these points isn’t about getting a cheaper vacation, but just showing off a point balance to other people who are obsessed with this kind of thing.  And advice?”

-Points Widow

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Dear Window,

Sometimes a guest or weird uncle or other person may show up and start rambling on and on about personal finances, and how to get a lot of air mile points, or mention some credit card or another that they can use to get some reward or another. It’s very strange and confusing. They may even try to show you their credit cards, when everyone know one doesn’t do such things in polite company.

What do you do?

Tell them to find some internet forum where weirdos gather to discuss such things. Under no circumstances should you ever engage them, it only encourages them.

Lesson 10: The Call To Adventure

“Dear Princess, I wrote earlier and tried to explain that my kids are spending too much time in a fantasy world.  There is no real secret garden, they just imagine it, I think as some kind of escapism.  It’s concerning.  Also, my pen name was ‘Mom Of The Delusional’, not ‘Delusional Mom.’  I don’t think it’s very polite to get people’s names wrong.”

-Now Kind of Annoyed Mom Of The Delusional

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Dear Annoying Delusional Mom,

It smells like you’re having some trouble with manners!  At times a guest or relative might show up with a space ship/time machine/magical portal/interesting magical or technological item that brings one into a new world of adventure, mystery, and wonder.

What do you do?

Agree.  Even if you try to say no, the author will figure out a way to force you on the adventure, and it’s not polite to disagree with or interrupt story tellers.

Manners - 20Adventure ho!

That concludes this simple guide to etiquette in common social circumstances.  We hope that the next time you encounter a guest crocodile wrestling at your ice cream party, encounter a crying photographer, have to figure out how to deal with cows on the couch politely, or manage any of these other common social situations that our guide will have given you pointers to navigate them with grace and politeness.

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Homeward Bound: The Incredibly Long Journey With a Hedgehog, a Puppet Giraffe, and a Famous Frog – Part III – Texas Touring Turns to a Tiresome Trip


Previously: Part II – The Long Louisiana Slog

Texas Touring Turns to a Troubling and Tiresome Travail

We left the behind the sad disappointment of the Louisiana Visitor’s Center and decided to try something we’d never done before – to visit the Texas Visitor’s Center.  So we did.

On arriving they had this helpful warning:

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In case you are wondering, that is Kermit in a “holding arm up to shade eyes while scanning for snakes” pose, rather than Kermit in a “holding arm up in alarm upon learning that the Visitor’s Center actually just prominently warned us about snake risk” pose, though if you’d like to imaging it’s the latter, then feel free.  We try to be accomodating.

On arriving we also found the (now expected) disappointment of institutionalized pet prejudice.  Sorrow welled up in the hearts of us all, but Princess Sophie borrowed a page from the book of Fancy.

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Disclaimer: Please note that Princess Sophie did not smoke.  Please also not that Princess Pricklepants didn’t smoke, nor did Fancy or anyone else in our entourage.

While we don’t have photographic evidence to prove it, this Visitor’s Center was also closed, so we weren’t able to learn about Texas and the interesting and varied things within its gigantic borders.  There was a really neat looking boardwalk over a swampy area that we (for limited versions of “we” that do not include Ryan) were interested in checking out.  I think maybe it was only a couple people who were interested in the swamp.  Perhaps just me.  Still, it looked like a great learning opportunity for the hedgehog.  Yet it was not to be.

Suffering that bitter disappointment, I looked around hopefully for snakes.  None were found.  But there was a separate pet rest area.

Separate but equal being unequal, Fancy staged a sit-in as a protest, but wasn’t able to sit.

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Princess joined in.

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Kermit joined as well.

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They got tired and decided to have a rest on the sign along with a small rock.

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Fancy joined in.

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The center also had a very large star that everyone stood near.  The hugeness reflecting that the state is remarkably large.  Here is the star from afar.

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Here is the star quite near with Max expressing fear.

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There also was a Texas shape cut out, in case your location was in doubt.

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Disclaimer: Kermit was not in any way attempting to infringe on the intellectual property of the “Hang In There” kitten poster.

With some free time, Fancy spent more time in rehearsal for Annoying Private Ryan:

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This was a really good rehearsal.

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We arrived at the Visitor’s Center around 3:00 and left about fifteen minutes later.

Then we drove, and drove, and drove.

Reaching the border of Texas can give you a brief illusory sense of being close to being home.  This sense of hope will gently fade over the many, many hours of driving from the border to Austin.

Around 7 we went for dinner at Chuy’s.  Kermit and the Art Models were excited to find the Elvis shrine.

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The Art Models were happy to finally get a photo in.  They felt neglected this trip.

On the other hand, the kids were a little tired of the camera.

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Th Annoying Private Ryan rehearsal went over poorly, even with the amazing setting.

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Sadly Private Ryan was very tired of helping in rehearsing, and confiscated the camera.  This was the final image captured.

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Fancy was still pleased.  Around 9:30 we finally made it to the outskirts of Austin a bit annoyed at how big Texas is.  And so our incredibly long journey with a hedgehog, a puppet giraffe, and a famous frog drew to a close.

The Perils of Pet Prejudice Part 3 – The Princess Strikes Back!


Previously Part 1, Part 2.

Now begins part 3 of our travelogue, heading on the final stretch, over the river and through the woods to Grandmothers’s house.  It was a long drive, so Fancy made good use of the time rehearsing for his role in Annoying Private Ryan:

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Still nailing it!

Alabama has a welcome center too, we are sensing a pattern.  The first thing we find is a phone booth, a strange relic from the lost past of telephony. Maybe it is a time machine!  Princess attempted to communicate with it, but found it strangly unresponsive. Fancy tried to help, but also found it unresponsive. Princess wanted to change into a superhero costume in the phone booth, but we didn’t bring any superhero costumes with us, so Princess and Fancy just played in the booth for a while instead.

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Next to the booth was a large concrete monolith with an inspirational saying on it.    Fancy thought it must have been placed there by a fellow pet’s rights activist – the persecution of pet’s rights and the sinister signage of institutionalized pet prejudice is an injustice Fancy hopes to overcome some day.  He has a dream. Fancy is sure that concrete block is meant to inspire pets everywhere to fight the peculiar and perversely pernicious idea of defending the idea that it’s a “right” to keep pets from visiting visitor centers.  Fight the power, hedgehogs, you have nothing to lose but your leashes!

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Princess bristled at Marxist undertones of Fancy’s proclamations.  As a member of the aristocracy she feels torn. Fancy thought it best to change the topic, since it was a bit of a prickly subject.

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“Cousin Phil?”

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There were some lovely holly bushes, so we posed Princess in front of them and got this super lucky photo of Princess waving!  Whoah!

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Once again we met our old nemesis.  Rather than explaining with complicated words and sentences why this is bad, we didn’t.

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Princess and Fancy were both appalled.

Fancy can be quite the activist…

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Is this what happens when a puppet has nothing left to lose?  Pushed to the edge, will Fancy, once a mild-mannered and law abiding puppet, become a rule-breaker?

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Clearly.

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Fancy even turned to handing out brochures he wasn’t authorized to dispense!

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And engaged in doing whatever it is that’s happening here.

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The breakdown into anarchy continued.  Princess turned from her mild mannered rigid authoritarianism to anarchy to the point that *she went past the NO PETS ALLOWED sign*!  At this point things were careening off.  Princess even tried to climb into that little buttoned down spot on my collar that there was no way she’d ever fit into.

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But with family intervention and care she settled down a bit – note she still was rebelliously sticking out her tongue here.

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With more time cooler heads prevailed, and we persuaded Fancy and Princess of the value of the social contract,  and that we had a Grandma to get to.

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On the way out, we decided that there must be a politically connected brother with a sign making business, because seriously.

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And later that day we got to Grandma’s

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And Great Grandma Gracie even got to see Princess Pricklepants:

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THE END

The Perils of Pet Prejudice Part 2


Previously.

We made our way on the long drive from Louisiana to Mississippi, a state with constant and consistent consonant complications.

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Princess liked it since it had two Ps in the name.  Fancy had many opinions about Mississippi but nobody was interested in hearing them.  So he rehearsed for “Annoying Private Ryan”:

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Nailed it.

For various reasons Mississippi claims to be “The Birthplace of America’s Music,” which seems like a very grand claim.  We could have been pedantic quibblers, but hedgehogs don’t really promote pedantic quibbling so we tried to work with it:

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Once again we encountered the sinister signage of institutionalized pet prejudice.

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While we were taking photos of our hedgehog out front, various people noticed our hedgie, and we were showing her to them.  One of the workers at the visitor’s center noticed Princess and liked her, and wanted us to bring her in, though when he tried to get us in, security actually stopped us.  The Man Holding the Hedgehog Down. (Technically security was actually a lady, and she didn’t hold the hedgehog).  Here was the worker who liked Princess holding her:

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We sort of took our a stand for pet civil liberties, in a way, by taking pictures of our hedgehog near the sinister signage of institutionalized pet prejudice.

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Others kind of joined us, in a sense, by also taking pictures of our hedgehog near the sinister… the “No Pets” sign.

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Given the circumstances, we left Princess safely in the car and went inside the Mississippi Welcome Center with Fancy to take a stand.  Inside there was this painting of an American ship exploding, as if Mississippi wanted to say, “welcome, ships explode here sometimes, but not often.”

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Since the Visitor’s Center was under Pet Segregation, only Fancy was able to pose before the state seal, though he tried to appear hedgehog-like in solidarity.  Next time we plan to bring toothpicks to really show them.

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Fancy also met Miss. Mississippi, who he enjoyed meeting.  Luckily she wasn’t Mrs. Mississippi since that would have been far too difficult to say, and also Fancy might have been challenged to a duel.

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After talking to the nice people and forgetting to mention that they really shouldn’t be prejudiced against pets, we headed back to the car.  Princess was sleeping in her huffledome, so we let her be without further photographic documentation.

Next – The Perils of Pet Prejudice Part  3 – Alabama’s Revenge (and Land of Too Many Signs).

The Perils of Pet Prejudice Part 1


On the day after Christmas we packed up a minivan and headed out on the road for a trip to go visit family in Alabama.  This was the first time we’ve traveled with Princess Pricklepants, so this was a learning opportunity for us.  So far we’ve learned that traveling with hedgehogs isn’t as bad as it might sound.  The kids have also learned that traveling with their parents is as bad as it sounds.

For this trip we took along another traveling companion, Fancy, who you probably remember from a previous post.  Fancy is our giraffe friend who was a costar in the theatrical release of the drama, “The Princess, the Dragon, and the Giraffe.”  Fancy has starred in many long car drive based dramas, including the early hit, “Ow!” as well as many other serial dramas like “Don’t Make Me Pull This Car Over,” “Does Anybody Need To Go To The Bathroom,” and the incredibly long running “No, We Just Got Food.”

After a long day’s drive, we pulled in for dinner at Cracker Barrel in Beaumont, Texas.  Fancy generously covered our dinner at Cracker Barrel.

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The Cracker Barrel cashier was quite surprised to be able to meet Fancy, we guessed that he had never met a giraffe actor of Fancy’s fame before.

Once we got checked in at the hotel Fancy called his agent.

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No new jobs, but a he did send over a script to look at called, “Annoying Private Ryan.”  Here’s a shot from one of the many, many rehearsals:

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The next day we made it to Louisiana.  The visitor’s center had a lot of construction work happening which created some tension between Princess and Fancy in the parking lot.

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Then we made a startling discovery.  The Louisiana Visitor’s Center was prejudiced against pets!

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Facing grave injustice, Princess and Fancy made up and joined together in solidarity.

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Together they laughed at danger:

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Unfortunately, Fancy had broken the law.  Princess was a strong law and order hedgehog, who felt she had no choice but to arrest him.

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Princess had stark plans for the scofflaw Fancy.

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Fortunately a very friendly and cooperative local construction worker stepped in and began the long needed process of bringing peace and healing between hedgehog and giraffe.

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(Side note, has anyone noticed that Christmas keeps coming earlier and earlier each year?  It’s not even January, and they already have these things up.)

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Coming after this, The Perils of Pet Prejudice Part 2.