Monday, September 6, 2010

Etiquette Rules Are For People Who Don't Understand Etiquette.

The world is populated with people who simply do not care about anything "proper" until they get to a dinner table. Most people do not understand that etiquette is based on denying yourself at the deference and comfort of assembled company. However, by the time they arrive at any concern for etiquette, these people have long since forgotten about consideration for anyone but themselves.

The worst offenders are like any zealous convert to religion in their new found knowledge of The Etiquette. They are simultaneously offensive and tedious in their odious grappling with such concrete constructs as never correcting another in public unless you are a paid teacher in the discipline.

Which brings me to the napkin. Napkins have evolved from common mouth wipe towels and table cloth impressment to refined cloths for blotting lips before taking sips of beverage. If nothing, the use of the napkin is most illustrative of the evolutionalry nature of etiquette. As an aside, my personal revulsion against napkin rings stems from the historical notion that such rings were issued to differentiate a person's napkin so that the same napkin could be used by the same person, without laundering, for an entire day. How off-putting, but illustrative.

Now another bit of napkin etiquette concerns the location of the napkin when someone must temporarily beg leave from the table. In doing so, historically, one must also not signal to the staff or waiter that you are done by placing the napkin on the table or offend your neighbor by the sight of a soiled cloth and place the cloth on the seat of your chair. I find placing something that I will return to use again where my posterior has been perspiring for a while just beyond the pale. I also find that staff or waiters who do not recognize flatware in the "resting" position are in short supply. Having been admonished on return , a tough call when your hostess is one of the offending etiquette zealots, for placing my clean and spotless napkin temporarily on the table to remove myself to return an important call (vibrate, went to v-mail), it took everything not to mention that pointing out in public any perceived missteps in etiquette was the greater faux pas.

However, being that I am better educated in the finer things, and wish to cause no distress by my personal behaviour, I have now set upon a compromise; I now take my napkin with me. Gad!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent solution, provided one does not then take the napkin home at the end of the evening. Miss Manners would not be pleased.

    I have a related handicap - I can NOT eat without a napkin. (Maybe I should use that to be more successful in my dieting attempts? Hmmmm.)


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