Monday, September 25, 2006

Ou sont les Etiquettes d’antan?

Yesterday, in a cleaning frenzy inspired by Kevin, I uncovered a number of old books. Among them was “Manners and Sensibilities - Amy Vanderbilt’s Everyday Etiquette” written by Amy Vanderbilt, and last updated in 1956. There is just so much that kids these days don’t know. Among the many things my mother never taught me was that you never share your crack pipe with a hobo. It’s just not done in polite society.

While Amy doesn’t tackle that particular question, she’s a wealth of information on some of the other deep questions disturbing the rest of our lost generation. Under, “Your Manners Away from Home: Restaurants” she uses “common sense” to enlighten us about another troubling problem.

What do you do with the wrapper on a lump of sugar when you are dining out in a restaurant? Do you put it on the tablecloth, in the saucer of your cup, or in the ash tray? E. f. Toledo, Ohio

This is one of those things for which there is no real rule. You just use common sense. I would say put it on the tablecloth, for if you put it in the ash tray it may start a fire, and if you put it in your saucer it may cause the cup to tip over when you put it back in the saucer after taking a drink. If it is on the tablecloth the waiter will clear it off along with crumbs.

Under Teen-Agers: Restaurant Etiquette:
When I am at a restaurant with my boy friend, how do I order dinner? A. M., Houston, Texas
You do not pick up the menu yourself, but you wait until it is presented to you by your escort or by the waiter. You give your order to the escort rather than to the waiter, although if the waiter asks you specific questions about your order you may answer him direct. Let your escort make a few suggestions on what might be nice to eat – he may be thinking painfully of his pocketbook though, rightly, he shouldn’t take you to a restaurant where this matters to him. But you, of course, as a considerate person, will not order the most expensive dish unless you know that money is no object. In an unpretentious restaurant or say at a country hotel where food is all table d’hote, you would be expected to give your order to the waiter when he asks for it. It is only when a card is presented that you give your order to your escort, for it is his masculine duty to scan the card and suggest things that might appeal to your palate. It is also he who suggests the wine, if any. A girl may know all about food herself, but, as a guest of a man in a restaurant, she defers politely to his suggestions, although, of course, she is not required to eat anything that she doesn’t like.


Frances Goodman فرانسيس said...

"masculine duty?" Is that for real? Wow, no wonder Kevin was always upset when I'd order the "Ultimate Margarita" before he'd suggested it.

weeping sore said...

I like the part about "a girl may know all about food herself..." Girls are supposed to cook and boys to eat. One would have thought that division of labor would give a girl the edge in knowing about food. In your case however, I don't think anyone would dispute your familiarity with ultimate margaritas.