Conversation is fast going the way of the Great Auk. Nearly extinct, its skilled practitioners are vanishing like the samurai, replaced by shotgun information-sharing and smartphones.

Where once guests knew how to converse with the guest on their right as well as their left in a suitable manner, now there is only chaos.

To that end the rules are still the rules.

Avoid ego and competition. Sit down with subjects at the ready, such as books, movies, events of the day, sports and the arts. Be more interested in those next to you than in speaking. You have been invited to complement those seated with you, and compliment them if nothing else comes to mind before the first course. Leave your smartphone alone unless you’re waiting for word on that donor heart.

What not to do: Don’t talk about your divorce, your court case and the rat bastard who left you in the lurch. Your however-many-days of sobriety are off the table, as is your cancer treatment. Save children’s photos for social media, likewise their detailed shenanigans, because every crow thinks hers is the blackest, and you don’t need to lend any more credence to that old saw. Do not relay play-by-play visits to the ER — there is an entire reality series about this if someone wishes it — and your late relative’s last throes are absolutely forbidden, as is your cherished pet’s recent demise. That you have a high pain threshold and once pushed your own broken nose back into place is also off limits.

I happen to know one of the last great table talents. Her secret? She never says a discouraging word.

If the devil himself sat down, she’d say, “I love what you’ve done with hell.”

Patricia Gannon covers society for The Acadiana Advocate. She can be reached at

Victoria Luncheon

Better late than never, but The Advocate was still in time for the toasts. Queen Victoria Renee Borne received her homages with grace following a sit-down luncheon at the Petroleum Club. “To our 25th year,” intoned past Queen Sue Lein. “Our ball just gets better and better. Dilly-dilly.” Victoria celebrated its quarter-century this season, and enjoying a sophisticated Sunday lunch were Carolyn French, Erin Plasencia and Jeanie Domingue, fast becoming a major Mardi Gras force.

Past Queens Party

White roses and Mardi Gras mimosas welcomed former Evangelines to an elegant City Club reunion. “The luncheon is in honor of the immediate past queen,” said hostess and former Evangeline Emily Breaux, taking her turn 12 years down the line. Gathering for pre-socializing, some elegant asparagus soup and lobster thermidor were Cherie Kraft, Mimi Francez, Betsy Koke and guest of honor Christine Beaullieu, who could double for “Victoria” actress Jenna Coleman, in our opinion.

Triton Ball

King Triton William Ritchey and Queen Triton Lesley Maxwell ascended the throne at the Cajundome. Parading this season to an international theme, “Triton’s Grand Tour,” Triton men made merry in their satin tunics and tuxes, including Ball Captain Vaughn Swilley, Scott Coco, Bryan Couvillion, Dr. Fernando Alemany, Ray Naquin, Richard Carlisle and a terribly helpful Troy Guy. All that, plus “Skin Wars” artist Brittney Pelloquin painted the whole thing live.

King’s Luncheon

We’re certain the king was indeed in his counting house after this one. King Gabriel LXXIX Dr. Michael K. Judice assumed his official duties at the traditional King’s Luncheon. Live jazz and golf shuttles greeted his royal guests at the Cajundome Convention Center while Judice posed for his formal pictures upstairs. Milling about with his majesty were Ball Captain Robert Foard and wife Carrie, Jim Venable, Greater Southwest Mardi Gras Association President Gene Lognion and gentleman Bill Blanchet. We have it from Judice himself that this event was the moment he was most looking forward to, except for float riding.

Queen’s Luncheon

Queen Evangeline Lauren Guilliot had her moment in the Mardi Gras sun at an elegant Le Pavillion luncheon. A chilly Lundi Gras brought out the fur coats, including her majesty’s full-length white mink, but she was warm with her greetings for both her maids and the media. White roses and Carnival-colored blooms decked the royal dais and tables, where guests enjoyed potato leek soup, Mardi Gras crepes and strawberry genoise for dessert.