There is a posthumous piece on Slate today about restaurant wine service and waiters interrupting conversations to pour more wine from a bottle that has been ordered to cause diners to order another.
I’m going another direction. Baby showers. Yes, a waiter was involved but only at the direction of the “hostess.” I spent a day putting together a baby basket for a neighbor we bonded with as she’d just moved in, pregnant, and her husband had a new job and was working long hours.
Surprisingly, I was invited to the baby shower, which was a dinner for about 10 gals, everyone from her husband’s work besides me. I thoughtfully purchased items and wrappings to assemble a basket that included everything from plastic keys (the “bow” atop the new basket) to bathtub books.
Dinnertime came and everyone rolled up in their expensive cars. The gals were nice, and I ordered a glass of wine and reasonably priced entree. They were ordering cocktails, bottles of wine, expensive meals, desserts and after-dinner drinks (luckily no booze for the mother-to-be). Then they split the bill.
I’d spent $75 on a gift for a nice gal I’d known for a couple of months and now my dinner was $30 including tip but I had to add an extra $100 to that for their excess. Years later, I believe the hostess should have told me, the outsider, of the arrangement, and said to the waiter that the bill would be shared by all except the mother-to-be (of course she shouldn’t pay). At least I would have had a second glass of wine and perhaps a salad! Cheers, Dee
To me, they’ve gone the way of the dinosaur. I was given etiquette books by my mother and was expected to cross a room with a book balanced on my head.
One of the more important and useful tools was to have family dinner every night, and we had to ask to be excused to do our homework.
Today I’d rather read the book than walk with it on my head but years of ballet and gymnastics lead me to believe I could still do it. For what purpose?
What was drilled into me (north) and instilled into my husband (south) was to be amiable in public, defer to elders and never do anything that would give your folks’ a bad name.
Teenagers don’t know why they do what they do, whether it’s skateboarding the local mall, smoking, doing drugs; it’s all about rebellion and anti-parents and establishment. That’s better served through sports and other legal activities, advice from an old gal who used athletics to get through high school because academia was too easy.
I don’t know why manners have taken such a hit. They’re the only way your child will ever get a job interview. If table manners aren’t taught, your college grad may pick up a steak with his hands and chew on it as if he’s a cave man. That interview just went south.
My parents raised my sister and I in a teutonic way, very structured, then the other brother and sister (think feminist writers) very liberally. They got notes to skip school regularly.
We were all raised by the same parents and have manners, which I hope will be passed on. I think that etiquette is not snobbery where one has to find the fish fork or sorbet spoon, but basic rules for society. Let’s just say, no drive-by shootings today. Cheers, Dee