Spring officially sprang on March 20, and for a lot of you -- gay or otherwise oriented -- that means that love is in the air, just around the corner, or, in some cases, staring across a dimly lit bar. At the same time, many others are looking to free themselves from the confines of their winter relationships, shaking off their hibernative commitments, and embarking on the hunt for some pre-summer lovin’.
To help you boys brush up on your game, we consulted one of the wiser gals from Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise, Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, who returns to TV this week. Yes, she may be a lady, but she’s also a savvy Manhattanite who has propelled herself into becoming an accessible authority on issues of etiquette. And sometimes, some gently worded advice from an impartial third party is a welcome perspective.
The Countess is a curious "Housewife" -- she appears fairly even-keeled on TV and typically doesn’t display the paranoia or confrontational urges that are characteristic of several of the other women in The Real Housewives franchise.
Even while her own personal problems were being made public as she was dumped by her husband via email, the Countess kept her cool in a situation where other Housewives -- the Atlanta cast undoubtedly -- would have tracked down their former partner for some serious revenge humiliation.
By acting appropriately on the show, the Countess established herself as a specialist of proper conduct. In 2009 she released the book Class with the Countess: How to Live with Elegance and Flair, and last year released a dangerously catchy etiquette-themed single.
The song "Money Can’t Buy You Class" is chockfull of social conduct suggestions: "When entering a room, react to everyone and soon"; dating advice: "The primary mistake is texting on a date"; and confidence builders: "You don’t have to be rich or well-known to be unforgettable."
For those kings, queens, and princesses in need of a little update on their manners, here are a few more tips from the Countess.
Brody Brown: When two people of the same-sex go out on a first date, who pays?
Countess LuAnn: When two people of the same sex go out on a first date, the person who initiated the date should pay. Simply put, if you invite, you pay.
BB: Because gay marriage isn’t a possibility for most couples, gay men are free of the social confines that say one should wait until marriage until "sealing the deal." Is it ever okay to have sex on the first date? If not, how long should one wait?
CL: I disagree the gay men are free of the social confines regarding sex simply because marriage isn’t always an option. Very few people, gay or otherwise, wait until the wedding night to "seal the deal." Instead, I think that the best approach is to wait until you know if the other person is into you and will be monogamous. The length of time between the first date and having sex is different for every couple. Use your best judgment and always protect yourself.
BB: Is it ever okay to kiss someone in the middle of the dance floor or should one wait until in a more discrete, non-public location?
CL: It depends on which dance floor you are kissing on! At your cousin’s wedding, no, you shouldn’t make out on the dance floor, but at a late-night dance party, why not?
BB: How long after my friend has dated someone is it okay to date their ex? Is it ever okay?
CL: It depends on how your friend’s relationship with this person ended. If your friend broke up with this person, then I say it’s okay to date them. If your friend was dumped and is still hurting, the decision to date their ex most likely will result in the end of your friendship. Always ask your friend how they feel about you dating their ex before you do and then decide if your friendship is more important than this other person.
BB: If you know your ex will be at a certain bar, is it okay to bring the new person you are dating? If so, should you introduce them or just sweep it under the rug?
CL: I believe that once a relationship is over, it’s over. You can’t avoid going out to clubs you enjoy because you might run into an old lover. Instead, if you run into your ex at the club with your new special someone, just make a quick introduction and leave it at that.
BB: Is it ever polite to ask someone his age while on a date? If asked, is it ever okay to lie about one’s age?
CL: Lying about your age is surely going to backfire on you if the relationship becomes exclusive. Asking your date their age is also a no-no. You can ask a question that will give you a general idea of the person’s age though, such as "When did you graduate from college?" or something similar. There are also other clues that can give you a good idea of your date’s age including what type of music they are into, what they do for a living and how long they’ve done this type of work, etc. Keep your ears open and you’ll get a good idea of your date’s age.
BB: Is it impolite to wait a day or two before calling an interested suitor back?
CL: No, it’s smart to wait a little bit before calling an interested suitor back. Make them pursue you a bit.
BB: Is it ever appropriate to date more than one person at a time? Is there an amount of time you have before needing to decide who you’ll choose to date monogamously?
CL: It’s completely okay to date more than one person at a time before you become exclusive with one person. How will you know which person you want to be monogamous with if you don’t sample what’s out there first? Just be honest with the people you are dating so they where you stand.
BB: If the "primary mistake is texting on a date," what’s the secondary mistake?
CL: The second biggest mistake is talking too much about yourself.
BB: Is texting an okay way to set up a first or second date?
CL: I suggest making a phone call to set up a first or second date. If you can’t catch up with the person on the phone, sending an email is okay, but lacks the personal touch of a conversation.
BB: Is being "tardy for the party" ever acceptable?
CL: Being tardy for the party is never acceptable unless it’s completely unavoidable. I always say, never complain and never explain. If you are going to be late, make your entrance as quietly as possible and then join in the fun as if you’d been there all along.
Season Four of "The Real Housewives of New York City" premieres on Bravo Thursday, April 7 at 10/9c.