Friday, the Eleventh Day of February, A.S. XXXIX
A Word About Protocol
A dear friend was talking about teaching a class about protocol to newcomers. This is a Good Thing, and I'd like to participate in such a noble scheme. However, there are some people who will not be attending these classes who REALLY NEED TO. These are the people I want to rant about today, they know who they are.
Really, there are only two things that really annoy me about the way people are doing protocol these days. These are the reverence to the presence at court, and the use of titles when addressing or introducing other people.
When entering and leaving the presence (that's the area around the high seat(s), also called the "stage" or the "crease" depending on your level of irreverence), there are people who, when there is more than one couple present, bow to each and every person or couple in the presence. They do it because they saw other people do it. Those other people saw a remnant of a fragment of a joke caused by a prank that was instigated to cover up a social gaffe.
This is just plain wrong. Actually, it can be construed as rude: you're wasting the time of the populace and the high seat. There is only one presence, and you're supposed to be showing reverence to the presence. The presence does, indeed, consist of the high seat and any guests that the high seat invites, but there's only one presence, and you only have to bow or curtsy once on the way in, and once on the way out.
So then there's the other thing. Heaping titles in front of someone's name. Somebody said it because it was funny, and then somebody else thought it was proper, and then it all went bad. It's not proper.
Use one title in front of someone's name. If a person has more than one, use the one that is most appropriate to the occasion. If you must use all of them, put one in front and the rest afterward. Here's an example (with apologies to Cariadoc of the Bow, but he's somebody that I can think of with lots of titles):
"Duke Count Sir Master Master Cariadoc is going to judge the A&S display."
This is wrong. Note that it's also clumsy. Here's the right way:
"Master Cariadoc, Duke, Count, Knight, and Master of the Pelican, will judge the A&S display."
Note that I'm emphasizing the fact that he's a Companion of the Order of the Laurel, because I'm talking about an A&S thing. If it was a really formal occasion, then his highest title (that's Duke) would be the one to shoot for.
So please. One reverence. One title. You'll be glad you did.