Remember how as a child you were told to spruce up everything about yourself and your room before guests drop in for a visit?*
And of course, the recitation of the many do's and don'ts before the guests, and how you'd be punished if you weren't on your best behavior?
Well, it's interesting to see a whole country being told the same thing, as China girds itself for lots of overseas visitors at the Olympics in Beijing kicking off in four days.
This Globe and Mail story a few weeks ago gives an idea of the extent of the preparations by the authorities:
"Don't wear white socks with black leather shoes. Shake hands for only three seconds. Maintain eye contact for 30 to 60 per cent of the conversation. Don't wear more than three colours in your clothing. And above all, please stop spitting.
China's long march to better etiquette has been under way for years, promoted zealously by millions of campaign volunteers and official booklets - including the rules listed above. But yesterday the government declared victory, announcing that China's personal manners have improved enough to reach Olympic standards..."
"To drill the civility rules into every family, China has distributed four million booklets to homes in Beijing. The 109-page booklet gives dozens of recommendations on what to wear and how to behave in social situations, the workplace, the family, the street and meetings with foreigners."
The BBC had a story recently on how the authorities were diligently analyzing some of these "bad habits":
"Beijing Civilisation Office recently revealed that it had spent 1,700 hours observing the spitting habits of 230,000 residents in 320 public places.
It concluded the incidence of spitting had dropped from 8.4% in 2005 to 4.9% this year. No explanation was given on how the figures were calculated.
In order to make sure residents do not leave phlegm all over the city's streets, volunteers have even been handing out special "spit bags".
Persistent offenders have been fined 250 RMB ($33, £16)."
To cap it all off, this morning the New York Times has an op-ed no less on Chinese authorities are clearing an entire category of food from Chinese restaurant menus in Beijing:
"THOSE who hope to taste dog meat when they visit Beijing for this summer’s Olympics may be disappointed. The Beijing Catering Trade Association has ordered all 112 designated Olympic restaurants to take dog off the menu, and has strongly advised other establishments to stop serving it until September.
Waiters have been urged to “patiently” suggest alternative dishes to customers who ask for dog."