Dinner is not a formal affair at our house. It usually begins with either The Belle or Miss D. noting that her chair or placemat is dirty. I wipe away (generally) invisible crumbs and implore the girls to sit down. Miss D. perches on her chair and performs open-meal surgery on her dinner plate to remove any offensive red or green ingredients. The Belle picks her dish up and turns it over onto the table. The girls drink their milk and declare themselves done. Country-Fried Daddy and I perform a lengthy list of bedtime chores, then eat in front of the TV.
Someday, I hope family dinners will be different.
For now, though, CFD and I cling to the once-in-awhile meals out we indulge in alone when the babysitting budget is flush or a relative is in town. My mom was here this weekend, and we had a lovely gift certificate to a faincy restaurant, so CFD and I hit the town. Whereupon I realized that motherhood has ruined my table manners. Either that, or the drink I had at the bar before sitting down to eat was far too strong. I suspect both might be partially to blame.
But I learned from my mistakes. Next time we find ourselves in a restaurant in which white cloths cover the tables and screaming toddlers do not cover the floor, the following will be on my mind:
Five Etiquette Errors to Avoid in Faincy Restaurants
Etiquette error #1: Certainly, chicken livers are disgusting. (In a completely polarized country where many of us cannot see eye to eye on important issues of the day, can we at least come together on this matter?) Still, it’s unseemly to make gagging noises when a waiter tells you the livers are “fantastic.”
Etiquette error #2: The smartphone is a wonderful invention, but in certain situations, it’s better if no one sees you using one. For example, one should be surreptitious in taking out her iPhone to Google “sweetbreads.” And one should not laugh out loud when she discovers the $30 item on the menu is actually the thymus glands and/or pancreas of a calf. Mmmm, calf pancreas.
Etiquette error #3: Twitter is awesome, of course, but one should resist the urge to tweet at the table. (See etiquette error #2.) Yes, the world should know about the apparently bottomless cosmos served in this establishment and the fact that the waiter carries an itty-bitty utensil designed solely to wipe crumbs from your table, but tweet it later, while you’re waiting for the valet to find your family sedan amidst the luxury vehicles packing the lot.
Etiquette error #4: If you must pick a copy of the chef’s book off the stand at the front of the restaurant, don’t read it at the table. You’ll look like a tourist. Or someone who doesn’t eat in faincy places too often.
Etiquette error #5: I’m certain I made many, many other mistakes that enabled my fellow diners to pin me as a woman who spends far more time in restaurants rated by Parents Magazine than by James Beard. I think I’ve blocked them out, though.
Want to add one of yours?