I think there's something very charming about a settee. Whenever I see one it reminds me of when I was about 8 years old and my mother enrolled my older sister and I in a school for manners which was referred to as a 'charm school'....I kid you not. Personally, I thought my brothers needed this more than we did. But she thought we needed to be taught poise (check) and grace (check) and how not to throw food at each other (ch..woopsie) OK, I hear that...& that could've been the reason. Or, maybe it was something about the way my sisters and I would have our knock down-drag out-hair pulling-fights every other week?
Or maybe it was due to the weekly cherry pit-spitting-contests off the front porch that summer...(still reining champ).
Now after her divorce, my mother (a single parent of 5 kids) worked nights just to hang on to our house and keep us in a very nice, middle class NJ neighborhood. She was also determined to have kids with good manners. My mother was very charming and very proper and I loved that about her. She called a well-put-together outfit "smart" as if channeling Jackie-O. And she thought sandals should never be worn with socks (gotta agree with her on that one) and that no one should wear white after Labor day. I'm sure if she thought about it she wouldn't have driven her white car (her only car) after Labor day. Thankfully she didn't over-think it because then we would've been stuck riding the bus all winter--which she would've approved of... it being red and tan and all. Which brings me to the charm school she enrolled us in. And the settee....
We learned how to walk properly (they made us walk in a fashion show. I can still walk with books on my head...see exhibit 'A' in my post called "The art of the book as art"), and learned how to set a table, and how to sit like a lady-- demonstrated by the teacher on a fabulous and charming settee...(I had an eye for great furniture lines even back then.)
There were so many rules and if you know me then ya know I like to sometimes break the rules and back then I was no different. Now today, I'm what you might call a 'girly-girl' (OK, an edgy girly-girl). Feminine with good manners (mostly) and some might even say downright charming...but back then?
For our charm school graduation we all had to recite our favorite poem. Some proud parents heard their daughters recite Dickinson and Yeats. Even my sister recited Browning. But I was 8 and the youngest student there so mine went something like this:
It doesn’t breathe
It doesn’t smell
It doesn’t feel so very well
I am discouraged with my nose
the only thing it does is blows!
What did my mother do? (Lucky for me) she giggled. And me? Well, I figured I was as charming as that settee.