Etiquette makes me itch, please pass the salad fork
by Ken Carpenter
I have recently discovered that I am only one step up from a forkless barbarian when it comes to proper dining etiquette. It just wasn’t anything that seemed like a big deal to me in the past, I never planned on dining with the Queen.
I figured you were doing OK if you didn’t burp, pass gas, scratch your crotch with a salad fork or grunt like a starving hog. Just in case the Duke of Dukey shows up for dinner, I decided to do a little research.
The meal does not begin until the host unfolds his or her napkin. It does not matter if the host is a motor-mouthed cretin who prefers the sound of his own lips flapping to eating. You will sit there and keep your utensils away from your hungry piehole until the host decides to eat.
When the clueless cretin finally unfolds the napkin, hopefully before the food is clammy, you may do the same. Put it on your lap and leave it there except for an occasional gentle mouth blotting. If you take leave of your senses and blow your nose on your napkin, the maitre d’ will appear within 20 seconds and drive a shish kebab skewer into your left ear. Always the left, never the right, keeping the pinkie out.
There are two ways to use a knife and fork to cut and eat your food. In both the American and the European, or Continental, style the left hand secures the food to the plate with the fork and the right hand runs the knife.
Americans place the knife across the top of the plate after whacking all the bites they want, then switch the fork to their right hand, tines facing up. Europeans keep the fork in their left hand, tines facing down, and they continue holding the knife in their right hand. Don’t ever attempt to steal a European’s steak, for they are ready for you.
Elbows are only acceptable on the table between courses, never while you are eating. That seems reasonable enough to me, for elbow grease is commonly spoken of and nobody wants extra grease on their table.
Do not slouch at the table. It makes you look like a slackjawed yokel, and you do not want to attract attention.
Soup is a very touchy item to eat properly, so you may be better off with a salad. You can’t slurp it and you can’t blow on it. If you want to present good etiquette you must spoon the soup away from you instead of toward you, then sip it from the side of the spoon.
If you catch another diner giving you the mean-eye because you spooned your soup toward you, politely motion the maitre d’ over and borrow a shish kebab skewer. Remember, always the left ear, never the right, and keep the pinkie out.
Eat rolls or bread by tearing off bite size pieces and buttering only the piece you are getting ready to eat. If you sneakily sop up the dregs of your soup with it, quickly place a saucer over your left ear.
You should never leave the table except in an emergency. Right off the bat I can think of two possible emergencies, one called 1 and one called 2. I guess those folks with really good etiquette have exceptional control over their bodily functions.
You should never spit a piece of bad food or tough gristle into your napkin, even if you are a well-trained sneak. The offending bite must be removed from your mouth with the same utensil it went in with.
After placing the bite on the edge of your plate, slyly cover it up with some other food from your plate. Yes, even those with etiquette will put devious activities to good use.
The host will signal the end of the meal by placing their napkin on the table. You should soon follow suit, laying it neatly to the right of your plate.
After the guests disperse, head for the parking lot at a brisk walk. The fresh air might revive you by the time you get to your car. That oh so proper behavior stuff can get to you.
Before you get in the car take a look around for eavesdroppers. If nobody is nearby burp loudly, pass gas in a disgusting manner and dig the salad fork out of your pocket.
Within seconds you may be able to scratch the last traces of etiquette right out of your system.