This and That, Stuff & Oddments

Hello, Faithful Readers, and welcome to Gothic Charm School in 2000. Not, mind you, that the turn of the century will have that much of an impact on the Lady of the Manners’ advice, but since everyone else seems to have made such a fuss about it becoming a new century, she feels she might as well go along with it. (Though it is the Lady of the Manners’ personal opinion that the last turn of the century had much, much better clothes. No one can convince her that the continual re-visiting of the 1970s by fashion designers is a Good Thing.)

For her first column of this brave new century, the Lady of the Manners has decided to answer some random questions from Faithful Readers, and throw in some tidbits of general advice that she keeps meaning to sneak into other columns but hasn’t gotten around to. Sort of a virtual winter house-cleaning, if you will.

First in our Parade of Questioners is Danny, who wrote asking:

how can i be beautiful
and still remain ugly on the inside
without surrendering my outer beauty
to conform to the social norm of the day
can i be ugly on the inside while looking good for the babes?

Oh goodness. Well, the Lady of the Manners would ask why you WANT to remain “ugly on the inside?” Unless of course, you’re using “ugly” to mean “morbid, angst-ridden, and pretentious,” which would lead her to state that she’s acquainted with some strikingly beautiful people who are “ugly” in that manner, so you shouldn’t worry too much on that count.

As to not surrendering your outer beauty to conform to the social norm of the day … well, again, that’s open to several interpretations. If your idea of outer beauty makes people point, stare, and laugh at you, you either will need to learn to not mind the taunts and smile in an ever-so lofty manner at your tormentors, or you will need to perhaps compromise on your expressions of your outer beauty. HOWEVER — if you are just using somewhat obscure language to ask “how can I be goth and still have a day job?,” then the Cliff’s Notes version of the answer to that is:

1. Cultivate a style that doesn’t involve obvious whiteface or bondage gear, but instead looks somewhat more polished. Nice, but eccentric is what you’re striving for, there.

– OR –
2. Get a job in the computer industry. No one at the Lady of the Manners’ place of employment even bats an eye anymore at her frock coats, full skirts, and top hats. She has been asked not to fiddle with her hat pins during meetings, but she assumes that’s from people’s perfectly understandable uneasiness about 9-inch long, sharp needles, no matter how ornamental or useful they may be.


Next up, a list of questions from someone called VengflHate:

I have several questions actually … One of them are: Why do people not like people who dress like The Crow? I don’t understand it people glare and sneer at me when i dress like that and the insult me and it is rather rude. My second question is: What is the difference between Goths and other people whom they refer to themselves as “normal”? Finally my third question is: Is it supposed to feel so alone as a goth sometimes? Like you don’t belong anywhere or with anyone?

Gothic Charm School did cover the whole Crow issue a few columns back, but the condensed version of the answer follows:

Other goths sneer at you when you dress like The Crow because it has become a cliché, and is somewhat of a sartorial shorthand for “I want to look dangerous and spooky but don’t have the imagination to come up with my own look.” Contrariwise, people other than goths will sneer at you when you dress like The Crow because to them it’s a sartorial shorthand saying “I’m a hopeless, gibbering fanboy who likes to play dress up and imagine I’m a superhero.” Take your pick, but the Lady of the Manners doesn’t think that either is a message you would really want to send.

As to the difference between goths and those that refer to themselves as “normal?” If pressed, the Lady of theManners would answer “imagination,” but is sure that answer is a little too short and pithy to cover it completely.

“Normal” people want to be Just Like Everybody Else, even if only externally. Which leads right into your last question, “is it supposed to feel so alone as a goth sometimes?” Yes. You wouldn’t be drawn to the goth subculture if at some point you didn’t feel like an outsider. One of the great epiphanies of people who are just becoming goth is that There Are Others Like Them. (Of course, that goes without saying for any subculture — that dawning moment when one realises one isn’t alone. Goths are just a little more visually flamboyant about it.)


Our final question comes to the Lady of the Manners in a roundabout way from the address, and was forwarded to her by the Overlords of …

i love gothic charm school to bits and all, her advice is some of the most useful i’ve ever heard….but quite frankly, i’m worried about her. she keeps mentioning herself in the third person. really, it’s starting to weird me out a little, and this is coming from someone who looks like a corpse and got a job so he can live nocturnally. i mean, is she okay?

just concerned about her mary poppins-esque goodness,


Oh, aren’t you just the cutest thing! No, really, the Lady of the Manners means that quite sincerely. Imagine, you getting all worried about her just because she refers to herself in the third person. You can stop worrying — the Lady of the Manners just likes writing in the third person. She doesn’t actually keep it up during her life away from the computer — too time-consuming, and her husband would just look at her quizzically and ask if she was feeling well.


Now, on to the snippets of advice.

* The Lady of the Manners has spoken to all of you about this before, but now she feels she must be quite stern. DO NOT take drinks out onto the dancefloor. If you can’t be separated from your drink long enough to go dance, then don’t. The Lady of the Manners is quite serious about this, and if she catches any of you doing this she will send her minions ’round to collect money for a Gothic Dry Cleaning fund.

* While at a nightclub, do not steal other people’s seats or tables. How can you tell if a table is being used if all of the people who should be sitting there are on the dancefloor? The simple guideline is this: if there are coats and handbags on the table, it’s being used. IF you still have the audacity to try and steal a table, when the people come back to their table and ask you to move, the correct answer is, “Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize anyone was sitting here,” not “Whatever bitch.” Keep that firmly in mind.

* Do not try to drop the names of people who work at local clubs in a effort to make yourself seem connected into the local scene. Either people accept you for who you are, or will think you’re an annoying twit. Claiming friendship with club employees (or claiming to work there yourself when you do not) simply makes you look like a prat.

* Watch where you’re waving your cigarettes.

Well, the Lady of the Manners thinks that wraps up the lightning round for this month. Be sure to pop back by next month, when she talks about goths and dating. As always, send questions and fan mail to

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