Wednesday, March 07, 2012

A little etiquette review

Dear girl at the next table,

Hi! You don’t know me, and I wish I wasn’t aware of you, but your incessant smacking caused me to look your way. And I’m so sad for you, because it is obvious your mother didn’t teach you table manners. No, don’t worry; lots of people don’t know basic etiquette any more. Probably because so many families don’t have dinner together anymore, which is leading to lots of people not knowing the proper way to simply eat. And yes, there is a proper way.

For instance, it is not proper to lick your knife after you’ve cut with it. I wish I hadn’t seen you do that, but halfway through my salad I knew I was going to write about you so I had to keep looking. Once you cut with your knife, set it down. Do not stick the entire knife in your mouth and lick it. Seriously.

Also, you put a lot of stuff in your mouth at once. A. Lot. Small bites, dear. The food’s not going to jump off your plate and run away. It will still be there, so cut smaller portions and chew with your mouth closed.

And while both of those are major pet peeves of mine, the most egregious error was the fact that your elbows never left the table for one minute of the entire meal. Didn’t your mother sing you the lovely little ditty, “Mable, Mable, if you’re able, get your elbows off the table! This is not a horse’s stable! This is the family dining table!” Catchy, I know. Here’s the scoop: keep the hand that’s not holding your utensil in your lap. Easy peasy!

Now, you may be saying, “Who cares?!” We do live in a more relaxed society than we did a decade ago, but people are still expected to know basic table etiquette. And if you ever go out for a business dinner, you’re going to care. It is no fun to be the only one who doesn’t know which fork to use. (I’ve seen the look of confusion on people’s eyes, and it’s not pretty. Remember, work from the outside in. Use the outside fork first.)

Thankfully you scarfed your food down so fast you left before our entrees came, so I was spared the slurping and knife-sucking while I ate my fish. But I couldn’t get you out of my mind, because even though I’m poking fun at you, I am sad for you. I’m thankful my mom took the time to teach me which fork to use, which bread plate is mine and what to do with my knife. I kept thinking you missed out on some old-fashioned home training.

So girl with the Gucci bag, if you ever happen to find this, please know I mean this with only the best of intentions: get thee to a bookstore and buy Emily Post’s Etiquette. I think I’ll go dust mine off and do a quick review.

A fellow diner