by Mrs. Eleanor Marsby



"The essence of good manners is acting out of consideration for others."

During my short stay in Atlanta, I have been made painfully aware that many among the Undead are not aware of the most basic rules of Southern etiquette. A brief refresher is presented below.

The English Language

Take an English grammar course.

Read as much as possible.

Refrain from all cursing and foul talk, especially in mixed company.

Try to speak with eloquence.

Learn a new word every day (write it down and study it).

Find a successful person and speak with him as much as possible.

Apparel and Dress

Hats are only good on weekends and for sporting events. Remember, remove your hat when entering an indoor establishment, meeting a lady, honoring the American Flag, and even when praying.

Keep shirts cleaned and pressed. Some good color combinations are: navy blue and tan/khaki, white and green, white and blue, red and tan, yellow and blue. Try to keep the pants solid if your shirt is going to be plaid.

Pants may be plaid, but make sure the shirt is a solid. Linen is a nice pant style during the summer. Pant colors should stay around tan, blue, and black for solids. Shorts are the best for plaid. There are many combinations here, so follow the shirt section for colors.

Belts must match the shoes. A nice alligator style of brown or black is preferred.

Socks are more important than you think. Make sure your socks match the shirt color. If not, the only other alternatives are black or blue. A good argyle sock may be worn if the primary colors match the shirt. Don'ts: No dress socks with shorts AND no white socks with dress pants.

Women judge a man by his shoes. Keep them clean, shined, polished, or new. Women also liked a man that has some originality. Try to find a pair of shoes that aren't like everyone else's. (Note: Locally, Mr. James Gravino of Clan Ventrue has mastered this point in spades; you may consider asking him for suggestions if you are in a quandry with respect to footwear.)

Rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces should be worn only if necessary and always in moderation! Rings should only be college or family rings (i.e., crest rings) and should be worn on the left hand. Only one such ring is acceptable of course! Bracelets may only be worn druing golfing only. Earrings may be worn in one ear (one hole only!), and then only if if you're an artist or something. A necklace may be worn on the weekends, but never more than a single strand and nothing larger than 1/4" wide.

Never wear more than two of the aforementioned accessories at the same time.

Handkerchiefs, Pens, and Lighters. One thing I've learned growing up in the South is that when you are at a nice function (formal or semi-formal), bring a clean, new handkerchief with your initials on it. Why? If a lady needs one for any reason (crying, wiping mouth, sweat, makeup, whatever) you can give her the handkerchief and don't ask for it back. A week later, she will find the handkerchief in her laundry, see the initials and remember the wonderful time she had with you.

Always carry a good pen. It shows good business sense.

Always light the lady's cigarette with a fine lighter. Initialed Zippo's are good.

The Well-Groomed Man

Keep a clean hair cut in accordance with modern standards. That is, keep your hair looking as if you are going to a business interview, even if you are just having a night hunting in the park with Clanmates. Get hair trimmed upon rising each night if necessary. The mullet is out, as are beards. Goatees are appropriate in artistic circles only.

Trim those nails (or claws, as appropriate)! Remember to use a fingernail/toenail clipper and a file. Do not ever bite your nails. This shows insecurity and nervousness. A manicure is not out of the question.

Use a cologne or eau de toilette that is not overbearing. When you shake the hand of a lady, she should be able to enjoy the fragrance later and remember meeting you. Never over douse, as this may offend.

Brush and floss your teeth -- including your canines. Kindred who were Embraced during or prior to the first half of the 20th century should also consider using a teeth whitener to remove unsightly blood stains that can give their smile an aged and unattractive look.

How to Treat a Lady

Always smile. Book after book on relationships says that a woman likes to see a man smile. That is the first thing they look for. Canines should be retracted.

Bring a small gift on the first date. One flower will do. A gift for her Sire, Elder, Primogen and/or Regent is also a real plus! Remember, when the date is over, this higher status individual will be talking about you to her. Respect for your Elders is essential.

Use your best grammar and keep conversation interesting.

Open the door for her! Any door! A lady's door also needs to be opened upon exiting.

When proceeding to a function on foot, a walk next to the lady on the street side of the sidewalk. Stay on the left, between her and the oncoming cars. This is mandatory and shows protection.

Once you arrive to your destination and you've held to door for the lady, make sure you do two things:

When seating, hold the chair out for the lady to sit. When the lady sits, push the chair in closer to the table.

If the lady asks to be excused, stand before she does and do not sit until she has left. Make sure to stand when she arrives back to the table as well. Note that you do not need to stand at attention; just show at least some effort and courtesy.

When talking to a lady: listen, listen, listen. If the lady decides to chat about things that are important to her, good or bad, listen and understand. Don't try to solve any problems, just be attentive. Do your best to ask questions about the lady and avoid talking about yourself. Respect is for those that earn it, not those that embellish it.

On the first date, a real lady will not invite you to her Haven. She will ask you to walk her to a location near her Haven and then leave discretely so that she may return to her daytime resting place in private. The goodbye should be a cordial one: reach your hand out as if to shake hers; when she offers you her hand, bring the back up and bend down to kiss it. Tell her that you've had a wonderful time and you would be honored if you could take her out again. Remember: patience is a virtue.


Never feed first unless you are asked to.

When opening a vein, do so discretely with your canines only. Be careful not to dribble.

When feeding, take two or three sips at a time. Never drain a Vessel in one gulp.

If you are close to Frenzy, don't simply get up and leave. Wait until there is a lull in the conversation and ASK if you may be excused. Only then may you leave. Remember, if a lady asks to be excused, say "surely" and stand as she is leaving.

When you are taking a break from feeding, keep the Vessel face up. When you are done, turn the Vessel face down. This indicates to everyone that you are finished.

Belching is sometimes commonplace in foreign countries, but in the United States, it is very rude. Refrain from noises at all costs during feeding.

Attending Social Engagements

Be aware of your social position relative to those with whom you are interacting. When in the presence of a social superior:

Do not speak unless spoken to.

Address the superior as "Sir" or "Ma'am," as appropriate. Simple responses should also end in these markers (e.g., "Yes, Ma'am" or "I do not know, Sir.")

When making direct reference to the superior, you may use a title, such as Primogen or Elder, along with his or her surname. Never use a superior's given name unless he or she has provided you with explicit permission to do so. Overuse of a superior's surname or given name suggests familiarity; this is forward and inappropriate.

Make sure all of your comments are brief and succinct. Answer any question that is asked, but do not offer additional information.

Engage in no behavior has the potential to reveal inadequacies in the superior's knowledge or skills.

Should you commit a faux pas, apologize immediately and take full responsibility for your actions. Don't place blame on others.

Always assume that another person is of higher social standing unless you have clear evidence to the contrary.

Learn to dance! You certainly have the time. Many of the functions such as Mardi Gras Balls and other social (genealogical) parties have been around for centuries, just like you. There is no excuse for a lack of dancing experience or talent among the seasoned Undead. Gracefulness is a must. You surely would not want to be asked to dance by a beautiful lady and have to tell her that you "don't know how." How embarrassing!

adapted from:


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