There are guides to this and that, books for dummies by the shelf full, 101 ways to do this thing or the other, but nowhere have I found a book, web site, or even a single article just for those of us who point our pinkies while drinking tea. Time to rectify that situation.
Ignore Those Know-It-All Etiquette Overlords
There are dozens and dozens of sites out there claiming to know what proper tea etiquette, including whether or not to point your pinky, consists of. (One thing is certain: I just ended that sentence in a preposition, but it’s less awkward sounding than the correct way.) They claim that pinkie pointing is a way for those of inferior breeding to look like the elites.
Supposedly, pinkie pointing was done by the aristocracy for various reasons (I’ve seen everything from saving their pinkies to stir spices into their foods – ugh! – to giving a “come hither” sign by one of those dainty aristocratic ladies to the lord, chamberlain, or page boy that caught her eye). Many claim it is a natural action, but that is up for debate. I say do whichever you please and tell the naysayers to go chase after that mom who let her kid eat that bug he/she found crawling around on that jungle gym at the playground.
Choose the Full versus Demi Pinkie Point
We all have our own personality – or should I say personaliTEA? – and so we have to choose our own style of pointing that pinkie. The more gregarious among you will want to engage in the full pinkie point. That pinkie will be extended all the way out and at a bold, “in your face” angle. Those around you will be well-advised to keep a safe distance lest they get a poke in the eye as you raise up that cuppa for a sip.
The more demure and/or timid tea drinker will do the demi pinkie point. This is my preferred method since I am loathe to ram a fellow tea lover while I am trying to imbibe. I have also poked my own eye a time or two trying that full out pinkie pointing maneuver. It took some doing and involved tea spillage.
How NOT to Use That Pinkie
While the mavens of etiquette squabble over class distinctions and rudeness, I will bring up a few practical “do nots” about pinkies.
- Your pinkie is not a napkin. Using it to wipe away jam and clotted cream from the corners of your mouth, especially if you then lick off that jam and clotted cream from your pinkie, is a “do not” for sure.
- Your pinkie is not a facial tissue. This is even more important. A definite “do not.” If you need to … uh … remove … uh … dislodge … uh … relieve a situation, then go for an actual facial tissue.
- Your pinkie is not a spoon, fork, knife, etc. So, those folks who think pinkie pointing was a way to keep the digit clean to use as a utensil are a bit off. Same goes for those who think the nail on their pinkie is a suitable substitute for a toothpick.
Respect your pinkie, whether you decide to point it while raising that cup or not!
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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