Part one of the Miss Margaret Moneypenny’s Etiquette Guide to the Apocalypse series.
There is something to be said for tradition. What can compare to a freshly laundered tablecloth, set with fine china and silverware? Clearly, our dear Vermillion overlords agree, as they have enthusiastically adopted our custom of the formal dinner party.
That’s why, in this new age of co-species habitation, I’ve updated my classic etiquette guide to include tips for navigating the social circles of both Vermillion and Earthling alike.
Guest: Do not arrive early. You will want to allow time for the hostess to properly prepare for your arrival. Catching her off guard is both rude and potentially fatal if you interrupt the delicate summoning ritual for the main course. If you find yourself in the neighborhood a touch early, try taking a walk around the block to stargaze and observe the quiet majesty of the Vermillion race’s power, as they burn the home worlds of their vanquished enemies in the Horsehead Nebula.
Host: Be sure you are completely ready by the time printed on your invitation cards. While this sounds simple, in practice you must be sure to follow all 73 standard procedures for hosting the Vermillion race, listed on page 457b of the terms of surrender. For the Vermillions, be sure to stock the bar with plenty of spirits and allow for the occasional late arrival, as Earthling time functions only in the fourth dimension. It is rude to vaporize anyone on their first offense, and if they are more than an hour late, feel free to start without them.
Guest: A hard and fast rule from here to EGSY8p7 is to never bring a guest, unless you have cleared it with the host in advance. This may be a difficult rule for Vermillions to adhere to, as they reproduce asexually and seemingly at random. If such an event arises, the gracious host should welcome the unexpected guest and always be prepared with an extra place setting. Vermillions, if you feel the need arising it is prudent to excuse yourself to the restroom, where the larval mucus can be more easily cleaned off the tile flooring.
Guest: The typical Earth custom is to start from the outside silverware and to work your way in to the plate throughout the meal. A good Earthling host will also provide chopsticks as an alternative, which are easier to handle with Vermillion appendages. If you would like to use the Earthling utensils, observe the host and follow his lead. Always wait for the host to remove his napkin first and set it on his lap. This signals that the meal has begun.
Host: Vermillions have a particular fondness for Chardonnay, which should be available with every course regardless of the dish served. Feel free to have other bottles available for red meats and other courses so you may introduce the Vermillions to the world of wine pairing. This is a great icebreaker if the conversation stalls or if an awkward topic is broached.
Guest: It is wise not to mention intergalactic politics, unless it is the recent conquest of the abominable Cerulean race, may they perish in slow agonizing torture. Do not under any circumstances attempt to cut off this conversation if a Vermillion guest chooses to pursue it.
Guest: Earthlings should always offer to help clean up, but it is impolite to accept this offer. Remember, they are your guests, not your Zemeckian footmen. Vermillions should not be expected to help clean up or even offer their services. Do not forget your place as honored citizens of the Vermillion Empire. Thank your hosts twice: once when you leave and again the day afterward by sending a written note, even after the most informal of events.
Host: At the end of the evening, if guests are overstaying their welcome, it is acceptable to gently hint that it is time to leave by referring to the evening in the past tense: “Oh, what a lovely evening this was!” or by being direct but politely taking the blame: “I am so sorry but I am exhausted. I have hardly had time to recover the jet-lag from our trip across the system.” If this does not work, Vermillion hosts may begin vaporizing guests beginning with those who were more than 15 minutes late upon arriving.