I’ve been working diligently this year with my 3rd Grade Girl Scout troop on the subject of “Manners”. When my daughter Julia, who is a senior in high school, came to me and asked if I had any books on Manners, I promptly handed over my battered copy of Amy Vanderbilt’s Complete Book of Etiquette.
She wanted to perform an Informative piece for the Debate/Forensics team competition. Manners must have been too overwhelming; she summarily changed her topic to “Robots”.
I started to wonder if having really great manners was somehow out of fashion,…but then I realized the act of showing consideration for others, could never be out of style. Manners, are timeless.
So I flipped through Amy’s book, ahem excuse me, I mean Mrs. Vanderbilt’s book and found the TOP 10 Manners, I think we forgot!
1. Drinking Beverages: In drinking any beverage at table, a sip is never taken until the mouth is empty and has been wiped with the napkin. This keeps cup and glass rims free from food marks.
2. Napkins: are placed on the lap-entirely open if they are lunch size or in half if they are dinner napkins. Guests wait until the hostess has taken up hers before placing their own. After the meal, they are gathered and laid casually to the right of the place setting.
3. Soup: If it is too hot, it must be allowed to stand until it is tolerable- it may not be blown, spoonful by spoonful, until it is cool enough.
4. Tasting Another’s Food: Sometimes a couple dining in a restaurant wish to taste each other’s food. This is informal but permissible, though only if a fresh fork or spoon is used, with the possessor of the dish then handling the taste implement, handle first, to the other person. The other must not reach across the table and eat from a companion’s plate, no matter how many years they have been married.
5. Conversation At The Table: Conversation and laughter should always be modified at table. What is deemed proper table conversation today? Almost anything except highly controversial (religion, politics) or squeamish topics (accident, illness, operations, real scandal, unaesthetic things.)
6. Posture: Elbows on the table are permissible between courses but not while one is eating.
7. Silverware: Your own wet spoon should never be place in the sugar bowl, nor your butter knife in the jam or butter dish.
8. Stirring Food: Nothing should ever be stirred up or mashed into a conglomerate heap on the plate. It is an insult to the cuisine to inundate everything on your plate with gravy, or with that American favorite, catsup.
9. Blowing One’s Nose At The Table: If the nose must be blown at table, it is done as quietly as possible, without excuse to draw attention to the fact.
10. Saying Grace: A guest at the table is often given the honor of saying grace. Grace is usually said after everyone is seated and before anything-napkins or even water-is touched on the table. Here is the most familiar grace of all, acceptable to all religions:
For what we are about to receive,
Lord, make us truly thankful. Amen