The pithy, opinionated, and sometimes brutally frank Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke challenges average guys to live a life less ordinary and embrace classic style in the broadest sense. it's time to rise above the trite, the boring, the predictable, the mundane, the banal, and the commonplace. It's time to stop behaving like barnyard animals at the trough and leave behind the perpetually sloppy man-child aesthetic of the last two decades or so. It's time to learn once again how to present and conduct yourself like an adult with some grooming, finesse, and sophistication. And here is where you can learn how.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mealtime Pointers for 2014. . .

Is THIS how you want to appear to others everytime you feed your face??!!  I didn't think so.

Since my wife and I have been working hard to train our four-year-old son in pleasant table habits for the last couple of years since he outgrew the highchair, the following ten points occurred to me this morning at the breakfast table as I coaxed him through his cereal, orange juice, and dried mangoes.  

Look around you in virtually any restaurant these days, or even your own table when you entertain or sit down with the family, and it will strike you (or should) that there are a number of things average guys can do to ensure they become, are, and remain pleasant dining companions.  The following points, some of which have been covered elsewhere here at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style, will go a long way to ensure that you are a guy with some grooming and sophistication rather than a boorish mess who turns off people with his obnoxious and/or disgusting habits.  Ready?  Then, here we go!

1) Please refrain from gobbling your food.  Slow down!  No one is going to take it away from you.  Try putting your fork or spoon down between each bite, chew your food thoroughly, and swallow it before cutting and taking another bite.  Obviously finger foods like pizza won't require some of these steps.  

2) By the same token, don't take huge bites from things like sandwiches or pizza, or try to cram as much as you possibly can into your mouth with your spoon or fork.  In short, stop eating like a ravenous street dog!

3) Don't talk with your mouth full or chew with your mouth open.  No one should have to see the food going around in your mouth or hear you chewing.  No one.  There is nothing so important that it can't wait a few moments until your mouth is empty.  Except maybe the house catching fire.

4) Please don't reach for something across the table.  Ask for that bowl of buttery mashed potatoes or the meat platter to be passed to you when you want seconds.

5) Don't take more than your fair share of food when you help yourself as the various dishes are passed around the table, or when you have second helpings.  There is no reason you need a mountain of mixed vegetables. . .  or red cabbage and pierogies on your plate.  Gluttony isn't pretty, boys. 

6) Put your napkin in your lap once the meal begins, and use to to wipe off your mouth and chin gently once in a while during the meal.  No one should have to suffer through a meal with an adult male table companion who has tomato sauce, chocolate pudding, or cornflakes all over his face because he stuffs food messily into his mouth.  You aren't two anymore!

7) Don't leave food bits all over the edge of your milk glass after you take a drink.  It's gross.  Discreetly use your napkin to wipe off the edge of the glass if this happens.

8) Don't hunch over your plate with your elbows on the table and your face in your food or slouch in your chair, please.  Scoot your chair in closer, sit up, and take your damn elbows off the table.  They don't belong there during mealtimes.

9) Don't hold your eating utensils as though they are shovels, trowels, or other gardening implements.  Develop some finesse at the table for Heaven's sake.

10) Finally, during conversations that hopefully take place around the table, don't interrupt when someone else is speaking.  Listen to the conversation and wait your turn before you ask a question, contribute something to the general topic under discussion, or come back with a witty riposte to something that has been said.

There you are, men.  Become conscious of, practice these tips, and make them solid habits that you don't even think about after a few months.  You'll then be well on your way to becoming a much more pleasant dining companion this year and throughout the rest of your life.  At mealtimes, your family, friends, and colleagues at work deserve and are worthy of polite behavior like this on your part.  It's time to start showing them a bit more courtesy and respect when you sit down to the table. . .  even when you grab a quick burger and fries at McDonald's.  Remember, everyday "Style" is about so much more than the clothes you wear, how much money you have, or your material possessions.   

And for you single guys out there, even if you still see no point in what I'm talking about here, and stubbornly refuse to consider how you might come across to others, remember this.  You might be the coolest, most interesting man in the world.  A real James Bond.  But there are lots of intelligent, interesting, funny, and classy people out there who will think twice about getting involved with you if you persist in sharing your gross behavior and habits with them.  You won't seem so sexy and exciting for long.  Some food for thought. . .  Pun intended.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

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