Now there is a boogey man if you ever heard of one.
They are brutally difficult to impart to kids. I wonder what the Queen did to her little bratlets? Then there are the cultural differences. Finally there are the more refined rules.
Once you get past chewing with your mouth closed, or eating with your elbows on the table (we still get armpits on the table from time to time), then there is the arcane and quite arbitrary rules about how to handle the utensils, and this is before you get to which one to use first. *tip* Start at the outside and work your way in. Always. I waitressed banquets for years and it was astonishing the number of people who didn't know that. If you aren't sure and the waitress doesn't look too much like a nasty witch, you can ask him or her too, believe me, they know.
Then there are the finer points.
Like at a dinner party when the person who sits next to you talks intently to someone either across the table or on their other side for the entire meal. R. U. D. E. RUDE!
This happened at the man's dinner the other night. I will grant, it was only for most of the dinner, and my language skills are not all that they could be making me less than an entirely enticing dinner companion, but still. I will also grant that one of the two participants was a Spanish speaker whose Catalan was probably as shaky as mine, so it was hard work for all involved. Manners weren't necessarily meant to be easy though. The woman beside me and the woman directly across from me talked intently and seriously about I know not what for the entire meal in Spanish. Ho hum.
It did mean that I got to talk to the man more, but he was also engaged in the conversation on his other side which was far enough away that I couldn't follow it. I also could hardly talk through the two women to the folks on their far side, so we were left with smiles and nods.
I have a story or three to tell from waitressing too. Some good, some bad. I waitressed one wedding that had 14 courses. We were practically family by the end and they made me sit down and eat dessert with them at the end of the meal.
Then there was another group that came in semi-regularly. They were the under 30 millionaires group. Something like that, and let me tell you, you don't get there based on manners alone. *gee willikers* They need to learn that you get nowhere (except maybe your first million) by making yourself look important by bugging the wait staff, or being obnoxious to them.
A cool group I waitressed was a bunch of businessmen and politicians from one of the G7 summits. I will not go into the various politics of globalisation, that is not the topic of this post, nor any of the other political hot potatoes that go along with it. I am talking table manners here folks. Let me tell you, these men had them. I will also point out that they were all men, or if there was a woman she completely escapes my attention. They were actually a very nice crowd to waitress for; courteous and polite. The only problem we had was that one of the underling brown-nosers wanted us to hand out cigars at the end. These guys wanted to hear the speaker not have us in the way trying to hand them an outdated idea that their doctors had forbidden.
The second most profoundly obnoxious group? Frats. OMG. Those little pimply peach fuzzed first years who thought that we would drop anything (including our pants) to simply know them. I am so sorry, but NOT. Gag puke gag. Rude and self-righteous and disgusting. The millionaires were worse though. And some of their women.
I dropped a ball of ice cream accidentally-on-purpose down the scooped back of one lady's dress. It must have dribbled it's icy sticky fingers everywhere.
You should be extra nice to waitresses at banquets. They don't get tips from individual clients, it's in the bill, so if your really horrid, you never know what will happen.
I was and am too in your face to spit in your food, but beware out there....never tick off the wait staff.
And please, talk to everyone at dinner even if they are freakishly difficult to talk to, like me. Not if they are psychopathic misogynists though, just back slowly away, and get them to tick of the wait staff, really really badly. Heh heh heh.