Friday, July 27, 2007

Mind Your Manners

Thank you DrummerBoy and ClareBear for being the epitome of well brung up progeny. (Apart from your colourful language, I can’t fault either of you). I can’t tell you how often people say I should be proud of such fantastic, well mannered young adults. Brings a tear to my eye and makes me realise that all those hours, locking you in the shed and making you face the wall with a pointy hat have paid off. I’ve even got DrummerBoy eating Broccoli and Fish and ClareBear tidying her room on Saturdays.

I have drilled good table manners and the P’s and Q’s into my own children and despair of those who take a treat without saying thank you – ask for a drink without saying please or don’t give up their seat on public transport for the elderly, disabled or heavily pregnant. I have been tempted to purchase one of those inflatable hammers that you can get in a Royal Easter Show Bag just to throttle inconsiderate laptop hammerers and teens plugged into their “I’m-ignoring-you-pods”

It’s not necessary for someone to open a car door for me, or pull out a chair . . .but it is appreciated. Much as I’d hold a door open for someone coming the other way regardless of sex. The price we’ve paid for women’s lib is having to make some sacrifices but politeness shouldn’t be among them. I shake hands with people I’ve never met, it seems polite. And if I ask someone how they are, I make eye contact and genuinely wait for their response! If I accidentally bump into someone, I apologise. I smile at security guards and I acknowledge check-out kids as human beings even if they are stricken with a glumness that only a 16 year old can express facially. I am courteous and polite and expect it of others (silly woman).

I also have impeccable table manners. I know how to hold a knife and fork. I know to start with cutlery from the outside in and even as a left hander, I can lay a table appropriately. I have great difficulty in understanding why so many people are either not taught manners at home any more or more particularly those who choose to ignore them – this is is always noticable when visiting restaurants, attending functions or being in the public eye. So it comes as some surprise (well not really) that the Australian Football League has instigated an ‘etiquette’ course for it’s first division players because they:

  • Have never been taught how to greet someone appropriately. “G’day, har ye garn” is no way to treat a dignitary
  • Don’t know that burping after swigging a schooner of beer is inappropriate at the dinner table
  • Similarly lifting a leg and farting at the opposition is just a tad rude
  • Slapping the waitress on the arse is not a sign of food appreciation
  • Bread rolls are not for wiping your plate clean
  • Licking your knife is a no-no
  • Serviettes shouldn’t be tucked into your shirt collar
  • Elbows should not be on the table
  • Knives and forks should be held between the thumb, index and third finger, not held with a fist and used in a stabbing motion
  • You don’t slurp your soup, tea, coffee,

I was stunned that out of 13 teams, so few of these young men had any idea about what I took forgranted - simple manners.

I have a ‘test’ for new boyfriends and girlfriends that enter my domain. Nope, I don’t care about their tats or hairdo, their piercings or speech (well actually I do care that they say ‘thing’ not ‘fing’). After the third date, when things are starting to look like an ongoing relationship, they must attend a family dinner. Nothing super formal but usually involving me scrutinising their table manners. Do they scoff or nibble. Do they know the difference between a red and white wine glass. Do they sip or guzzle. Do they burp at the table. Do they know how to use a serviette and most importantly, do they offer to wash up or clear the table! (Rarely pass that one).

Seriously though, I hate it when someone brushes past me on the travellator without a backward glance, crashes into me with a baby stroller or elbows me out of a queue. I get really irritated when people eat with their fingers in semi-formal situations (Eating ribs, prawns, tacos, burritos and pizza doesn’t count of course). I can’t stand the way Americans cut their food into baby pieces then stab at it with their forks instead of using the knife to gently push their food onto the fork. It grates on me when people hold their spoon with a fistJust look at the way those girls in Sex in the City eat their lunch . . it's disgusting!

Do manners maketh man? Probably not but I think it’s a sign of a good and disceplined upbringing, respect for food and wine and of course for the host/hostess - I like people to grace my table instead of slobbering all over it!


Johnny Dodge said...

I agree with just about all of that - good manners just means well brought up. Good manners shows character and always impresses - especailly these days when no-one seems to have any manners at all...

But some things depend on where you are - In Ireland for example, it would be hard to imagine anyone getting offended at some-one not knowing the difference between a white and red wine glass. (fine wine is kinda new to the Irish) and in some european countries, its quite common to clean your plate off with a piece of bread - especially Italy - where its almost rude not to... (compliment to the chef)

No excuse for no Ps and Qs... its a basic given.

Baino said...

Hoi Dodgster!Yer an old fashioned chaplet! And a serious young insect at that! Welcome at my table any time I say.

I agree, parochialism needs to be taken into account . . .lets face it the French drink coffee out of bowls and the Indians eat all with their fingers . . .horses for courses . . .

Grandad said...

Of course another one that was drilled into me was asking permission to leave the table.

But then people don't eat at tables any more at home...

Grannymar said...

Good friends, food, wine and a nicely presented table make for a good evenings socialising.

Brianf said...

I've got to go with Dodge on this one. I completely agree with everything you have said here except cleaning your plate with bread. I always thought that was acceptable and a compliment to the chef.

Anonymous said...

I HATE slurpy noises.

When TAT is eating hot soup, it sounds kind of like a toad farting in custard.

Baino said...

I am always surprised at which posts get comments. There I was waiting for a debate on economics and tax and you're all manners freaks. Actually the bread on plate thing is forgiveable depending on the dish. Naan and curry, Bouiabaisse and baguettes, pumpkin soup and foccacia . .. all asseptible. Sounding like a toad farting in custard - Priceless!

Jefferson Davis said...

God, I'm thankful that somebody brought this up! I completely agree, Baino! I come from the Southern U.S. of A., where very few people have manners. For instance, if ya seat a redneck at a table setting with a dinner fork and a salad fork, he or she might take that as a sign to stab the person to his or her right.

You've really started something with this post. :)

I don't look down on people that don't have manners, I simply try to teach them proper etiquette. :)

Jefferson Davis said...

"his or her right".....I meant left! :-)

ClareBear said...

Soup is a tricky one, even with all the rules you've given us! I'm still confused as to why "tilting the bowl away from you to get the last remnants" is the best way... And surely soaking up soup with bread at the end is asseptible? Otherwise that's just down right no fun!

Baino said...

Why child, you tilt the bowl away so that you don't spill hot soup towards you and the only bread that should be used in a soup bowl is lightly toasted croutons. Have I taught you nothing! Minestrone is Italian so you are allowed as long as you don't sound like a toad farting in custard. God I love that phrase.

Anonymous said...

Great sentence indeed! It's a phrase from the BBC sitcom "Waiting for God".