Table manners: Knife and death at dinner

by Dating Goddess on September 4, 2009

table mannersI’ve heard men say that women are too picky about unimportant aspects of a man’s behavior. I think it depends on what one considers important and unimportant.

Many women would consider table manners important (or somewhat important). Few of us appreciate a man who chews with his mouth open, talks with his mouth full, licks his knife or lowers his head near the plate to more easily shovel food into his maw. Yet men who have these behaviors haven’t a clue they are important, and would probably rebuff anyone pointing out their bad manners.

Yet for women, this can be a deal breaker with a man who hasn’t ingratiated himself to her. If she is on the fence about a guy, his table manners can be the kiss of death — the only kiss that will be present that evening.

Last night is a case in point. The guy was pleasant, nothing glaringly wrong, although he seemed to have some difficulty finding topics to discuss. I drew him out and shared relevant information. Dinner arrived. He cut off large chunks of his chicken parmesan and stuffed them into his mouth as he continued to talk. The spaghetti, which is hard to eat gracefully under any circumstance, was consumed via large forkfuls, then protruding stands slurped in. This was punctuated with large draughts of bottled beer.

Our potential romantic partnership fell to the other side of the fence — with a thud.

I wondered — briefly — if I was being snobbish to not be enamored with uncouth table manners. I decided, no, that my partner must be someone with whom I can feel comfortable in polite company. Not that I attend society balls, but I do dine with bank-president clients and worldly friends and colleagues. I can’t be with someone whose table manners are embarrassing.

In the past, some beaus’ dining etiquette was so bad it elicited comments from my family members after the event. One licked his knife in a white-tablecloth restaurant. I don’t relish making excuses for loutish behaviors.

If you chew with your mouth open or talk with your mouth full, stop. If you don’t know which water glass or bread plate is yours at a table for 8, get educated. It’s really not hard — information is easily available. Or maybe you don’t know you’re doing something others would find oafish. Ask someone who you think would know proper manners and get their discrete feedback.

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