Friday, September 25, 2009

To make a call: 1898

To "make a call" has an inelegant robustness of tone to one not used to hearing it; but Americans cannot plead that they are not used to hearing it. And the expression is not only general, but universal here. "Paying visits," the neat substitute for the rougher phrase, is not yet in colloquial use.
If you "made a call" you were visiting someone in person; people had telephones, but they would "call someone up" if they decided to do "telephoning".
It is a good rule to stay only fifteen minutes at a formal, at any rate a first call, unless, of course, urged to stay longer for some special reason.
When you did make your call you only got fifteen minutes to leave an impression; the original fifteen minutes of fame.
Above all, don't keep her standing an hour, while you lecture or "orate," or go over somebody's history, while everybody else sits about looking foolish.
Calling was kind of like the acting out a blog. Someone would sit at home and a stream of people would come in leaving comments; some of the comments were weird and went on forever.
Put your card on a convenient place in the hall, or on the tray the servant holds out for you, and mention your name to the manservant, if there is one.
You would leave little cars with your name on them, to let people know you were there.

This also makes me think of blogs. Sometimes I see blogs as establishments I visit. I make the rounds every once in awhile to make sure everyone is still alive.
Leaving other people's cards is a rather precarious business, and done at the caller's risk! It is not pleasant to meet your hostess driving in just as you sail out with the consciousness of having done a good stroke for a friend.
And no sock-puppets!
--From Etiquette for Americans--

1 comment:

Trooper York said...

This was an direct descendant of the acient art of patronage perfected by the Romans. A Roman's minions would attend him first thing in the morning to see if he needed anything.