Proper Puff Piece
Apr 11, 2019 09:42PM
● By Stephanie Wilson
In polite society, there are certain ways of doing things. Best practices, if you will, for basic interactions with other humans one follows. Take, for example, dining with others. When you’re alone in your apartment, eating shredded cheese from the bag while standing in your underwear in front of an open fridge, well…you do you. When you’re at a dinner party at your boss’s home, however, you don’t want to do that version of you. You want to do the polite version, the one who knows how and when to place a napkin on your lap, how to discern the salad fork from the other pronged utensils, which direction to pass the joint after you’ve puffed it. Or how to politely decline should you not wish to puff, which is totally fine because, you know: you do you.
Basically, basic manners. “Basic manners according to whom?” you may be wondering.
According to the rules of etiquette established by the Emily Post Institute, that’s whom. The grandame of manners and etiquette, Emily Post formally defined the still-established cultural norms with the publishing of her first book in 1922 titled, simply, Etiquette. Her advice centered on the basic concept that “no one should do anything that can either annoy or offend the sensibilities of others.”
According to the “About” company overview on EMILYPOST.COM, those principles are more important that knowing which fork to use. “Whether it’s a handshake or a fist bump, it’s the underlying sincerity and good intentions of the action that matter most.”
And basically awesome. As is the woman who’s heading up the family’s Emily Post Institute today: Lizzie Post. She’s the co-president of the New England-based institution, which operates under the guiding motto that though times have changed, the principles of good manners remain constant. The Vermont-based author, podcast host, and speaker is highly aware of how much times have changed.
Cannabis is legal now, for starters, in a lot of places. Which means that the basic rules of interaction with it need to be defined. And who better to do that than the co-author of books such as Emily Post’s Etiquette 19th edition and the co-host of the Awesome Etiquette podcast. So she did that.
World, meet Lizzie Post’s Higher Etiquette: A Guide to the World of Cannabis, from Dispensaries to Dinner Parties, published last month by Ten Speed Press ($18.99). Speaking with Lizzie by phone in the weeks leading up to the book’s release, I asked how this project came to be.
Her enthusiasm is infectious. “This has been a subject I’ve definitely wanted to engage with for a long time. … We had the idea to write the book in one of those dream spaces. ‘Yeah, we should write a book on weed etiquette!’ But at the same time, we knew it was going to be some time before a publisher wants us to or the family is ready to do it.”
Fast forward a few years and as cannabis legalization starts to spread across the nation like a weed, the opportunity to write such a tome presented itself when an agent Lizzie was working with for a different project got wind that a particular publisher was interested in writing a book on cannabis etiquette. Did Lizzie know of anyone who would be interested?, the email read. Alone in her office in Vermont, Lizzie’s hand shot into the sky. Dreams coming true, she says. When Ten Speed Press found out the Emily Post Institute was willing to tie the Post name to it, they said to get them a proposal but consider the project green lit from the start. (Pun intended.)
“I was really grateful,” Lizzie recalls. “At first, the thought was that it would be more of a gifty-style book, and I was really appreciative they went down the rabbit hole with me and really joined the Emily Post style of ‘how-to’ with a deeper exploration of the topic.”
The resulting guidebook is an elegant addition to any home library, its soft green linen cover embossed with gold begging to be displayed on the coffee table. And begging to be picked up. And filled with messages ranging from the basic principles to deep dives into the nitty gritty details that allowed Lizzie to “nerd out.”
But first things first, the book outlines the question on everyone’s mind: what would Emily Post think?
“I don’t think she’d be rolling over in her grave,” Lizzie says. “She was a modern woman, and she was someone who changed with the times. I don’t think she would approve of smoking it. I think she would approve of other forms of using it, and how to work with the interactions surrounding it. If it’s a subject that’s going to be legal, you have to know.”
With that out of the way, the book dives into the basic principles, which are rooted in the institute’s long defined focus on being considerate, respectful, and honest in your interactions.
When it comes to cannabis etiquette, a fourth theme emerges: sharing.
She writes: “It was so encouraging to hear people excitedly talk about etiquette in a positive way. Rather than hearing complaints about rudeness and being offended, conversations [during my research] focused on how to be aware and respectful of those around you.”
That research included a good stint of time in Boulder and Denver, exploring the ins and outs of the state’s legal cannabis industry. “I’m a big lover of Colorado,” she shares. “I spent my teen years coming out to hike and go to this summer camp and the Rockies and do western horseback riding. When I was 30, I came out to go stay at a cattle ranch and do some actual cowboy ranching, which was really fun.”
Her trips out here to research Higher Etiquette were really fun as well. “It was really my first destination when I had been working on the proposal.” She connected with Dan Martin, the owner of Boulder-based dispensary Magnolia Road Cannabis Co., who gave her hours of his time when she was first getting rolling on the project.
“I only knew cannabis through an illegal framework at the time. [In Vermont], we did not have legal cannabis, and we certainly still don’t have retail and regulation.”
And, my goodness, she continues, when you get into that world, “the scope of what cannabis looks like in a community is so different. I was literally coming from the land of the good and the bad, and maybe some people who spoke about it liked sativa or indica and the associated affects with them. And then you jump into the real legalized world, that’s not even the case: you’re talking cannabinoids and terpenes and flavonoids. It’s a whole different place.”
In 2018, she came out to Colorado for a two-week trip, spending a week actually living at Dan’s house and going with him into the dispensary. “Every day, interviewing his budtenders and sometimes interviewing the patients if they were willing or the customers if they were, spending time talking to people, asking, ‘What is your life with cannabis like?”
The answers she received from that trip and subsequent journeys to other legal markets shaped the book all cannabis consumers should add to their collections today. It covers the basics and the intricacies, from defining terms to establishing rules about who should empty the ashtrays and how often during a consumption-friendly dinner party.
It’s old-school etiquette for a modern world. And there’s a whole lot to love about that.
“At first, the thought was that it would be more of a grifty style book, and I was really appreciative they went down the rabbit hole with me and really joined the Emily Post style of ‘how-to’ with a deeper exploration of the topic.”
—Lizzie Post, on the development of Higher Etiquette
Meet Lizzie Post
On Wednesday, April 10, Tattered Cover’s historic LoDo location is hosting Lizzie for a book talk and signing. It kicks off at 7 p.m., and more details are available at TATTEREDCOVER.COM. Etiquette-interested readers should keep an eye on Sensi’s Instagram page for details about how to win tickets to a private afterparty with the author.
Can’t make it to the reading but still want a signed copy? Sensi will be giving away two signed copies at Sensi Night on April 17 at the EXDO Event Center. Follow Sensi Media Group on Facebook for details.