The sort of table I like sitting down to when dining out, or, frankly, at home. Oh, yes. Annoying so-and-so's that we are, we have tablecloths and candles on the dining table most of the time here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold. Nothing new there. So too did my parents and grandparents.
I have drawn fire from some readers since this blog's inception in 2012 for, among other things, insisting on polite table manners in public and at home. Clearly, these people don't see the point. And how dare I touch on such a hot button topic, or suggest that others need some work where social skills are concerned.
One memorable reader called me "Grandma" in a strident comment connected with one post several years back. Why do I suspect this was a high school or college-aged boy emboldened by the safety of relative anonymity? It's easy to see why the sobriquet was warranted however.
After all, manners are false. Intended only to impress others. You know, all of the early, so called 'dating behavior' that flies out the window once a person feels comfortable enough to be who he, or she really is with others. Right? Wiping you mouth on your wrist or the back of your hand, burping out loud to show your appreciation for the chicken wings and beef ribs, passing gas, and laughing raucously about it, iPhones at the ready, backwards baseball hats still perched on heads, and elbows splayed on the table, which is left looking like a garbage dump by meal's end, plus other assorted pleasantries just add to the charm of dining together. Right?
Um, wrong. On the contrary, the reasons why manners, table and otherwise, are always important are many and varied. And if you don't see the point, I can't do anything about it. Order a wrap or similar at Chipotle or Noodles & Company, Chili's, or Applebee's (so called 'casual dining' chains here in the U.S.), and I'll see you around Captain Caveman.
If, on the other hand, you grasp why it's vital to be on board the etiquette train -- perhaps now more than ever given our overly casual, slovenly society where the vast majority of people apparently see nothing wrong with behaving in public as though they are at home parked in front of their TVs, festering in a cloud of their own stench -- here is a useful link I came across recently that tells you everything you need to know about being a pleasant dining companion at home, in public, or even in a higher end restaurant. You know. Just in case you might wake in the dead of night with a vague realization that there is something about your social skills in need of a little work.
Why on earth would anyone want bother with something as pointless as self-improvement? Perish the thought dear readers! That might actually mean making the effort to change something about ourselves And we wouldn't want to do that now, would we? After all, that would be bowing to societal pressure. That would be inauthentic. That wouldn't be keeping it real. That might mean actually stepping outside our comfort zone a bit. And who wants to do that? Clearly not the vast bulk of people these days. Open your eyes and take a look around you if you don't believe it.
-- Grandma. . . er, um, Heinz-Ulrich
A Monday Morning Style P.S.
When you take a bite of food and begin to chew, remember the mouth is and remains closed until you finish, swallow, and (hopefully) dab any juice or residue gently from your lips with your napkin before replacing it in your lap. Please don't treat others to the site and sound of loud, moist, squishy mastication and lip-smacking. It's highly unpleasant. At best.
I treated the Grand Duchess and myself to a belated Valentine's dinner out on Saturday evening at an area restaurant that wasn't exactly inexpensive before attending a concert by The Birdland All-Starts led by drummer Tommy Igoe. A generally nice evening by all accounts, but it always amazes me the sheer number of people who display a lack even the most basic table manners.
It's bad enough to see what what is in others' mouths, but when you can also hear the sounds that go along with it, in a rather loud room of other diners, that's a problem. I notice this more and more with both women and men. What is wrong with people??!! You're gross. Chew with your mouth closed.