Everyday Manners in 1-2-3
“Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential.” Will Cuppy
No, it is not another long and boring article about what fork to use at the six-course dinner. This is a quick lifehack on how to fit into modern, sophisticated society, all while not looking like a moron for the behavioral total snob.
Sitting down - always at the right of the chair, and leaving table at the left. Why? Let’s forget the historical reasoning when men wore guns, and simply avoided bumping into one another at the table. Remember that man (if a gentleman) should help a woman with the chair and it is done on the right of seated guest.
At the table - nothing on the table that is not there for a specific reason and only to assist you to enjoy the meal and the company you are with. Yes Ladies, no bags. Not even the amazing evening clutch that would look so cool on Your Instagram picture. Bags go on a designated chair (most of high end restaurants will offer one for you), or on the floor next to your chair on your right, alternatively small clutch/purse can rest on your lap under the napkin, or against the back of the chair. Absolutely nothing else should be placed on the table, including glasses, keys, cigarettes and the evil of evils - mobile phones.
Moving forward onto the next rule, which is being broken the most - never ever text, talk on the phone, or browse your Email/Social Media at the table, yes this applies to casual gatherings with friends as well.
Pretty sure there is nothing so urgent that cannot wait for an hour or two, and if there is then most likely you shouldn’t be eating out at that moment. If you prefer to dine with your phone, then just stay away from social life, if not - show respect to people around you.
One exception may be if you are expecting important business call, and the sit-down is during business hours, then courteously excuse yourself to others and leave the table to take the call.
Well in the modern world, a couple Instagram photos of girls lunch/dinner-out will not ruin your social politeness.
Moving on - napkin. During lunch - on your lap folded in half with opening side away from you, and at dinner - fully open (in some places waiter will take care of it for you). Remember, napkin is there to keep your clothes clean, and gently dab your lips after the meal (by gently I do mean gently, ladies please do not leave your long-lasting lipstick on the napkin, unless this is paper tissue, this is faux pas).
Great, we arrived to ordering food. Few tips - nobody cares about your food intolerance or special diets you are following at the moment, so skip details and order in line with restaurant specialty. Meaning do not demand steak in the seafood place or sushi in Italian (and yes that happens too often not to be mentioned). Do not torture waiters with pompous and supercilious questions such as “soooo, what’s good in here?” and “what’s your favorite?”, and breaking each dish into ingredients.
Hope everyone knows how to use fork and knife, so not going into lesson here, except maybe small suggestion - if you finished your meal, please-please-please put your utensils side by side, diagonal on the plate to signal you have finished (some waiters do need help in your mind-reading, so help them with this basics). But what I would like to mention is wine handling. Please, pretty please, stop reversing an empty bottle upside down in the ice bucket. This is not to be meant that the bottle has finished, this means wine wasn’t good and quite an insulting gesture to do in reputable restaurant.
Oh, not drinking wine? No need to cover your glass or even worse turning it upside down, just touch it with a tip of your finger when everyone is being poured one to signal waiter that you are not sharing this bottle.
Seems we covered most common situations at the table. Last but not least - conversation, after all this is what we gather for, right? Everyone remembers to be careful with politics, religion and health topics, right? How about private life? Even if you know your companion for ages, is it still appropriate and polite to ask questions like “are you dating anyone?”, “why don’t you have a baby?”, “when are you guys getting married?”, and other variations of such sort? If you have not been informed or made aware of personal developments, the simplicity is that then you shouldn’t know. Respect people’s privacy and then you might find out much more than when you directly imposing on personal topics.
As Emily Post ones said - “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have those awareness, you have good manners, no matter what fork you use.”
Now, I’m off to girls lunch … ta ta …
- by Jana Belugina