John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Ms. Manners

What would you think if you were at a dinner party and discovered you were seated next to this woman?

I would get very nervous and try furtively to move the name cards so I could sit next to someone who looked more like Richard Branson–who would allow me to enjoy whatever is being served for dinner and be able to digest it without sweating bullets about which fork I am using and trying to think of the name “Endive” to describe my salad.

Manners are very important. No doubt about it. It’s the oil that lets us navigate human relations smoothly.

But as I tried to explain to my daughter this past weekend in one of my non sequitur fatherly talk tangents, “If you have to chose which type of person to be—it’s more desirable to be a pleasant and approachable person at a party rather than be the person who merely knows how to send out the perfect party invitation.” Or something like that.

jyb_musingsIn other words, I wouldn’t mind reading Ms Manner’s book. But wouldn’t want to have to sit and discuss it with her. It just seems like she is always looking for a comma splice in ever conversation. And to point out that something from lunch is still on the corner of your mouth. I would probably tell her (politely) she had bad breath and “something on her nose” (even though she didn’t), just to help me level the playing field with her and relax enough to get through learning, again, which fork goes where. So I can, again, feel like a “manners failure” when I inevitably forget the rules again.

Whoever invented forks should have made a rule we only need one kind. A simple single all-purpose fork. That would have made eating a lot less stressful. And one less thing to feel ashamed about not ever being able to remember.

Manners violation confession. While out of town last week and eating at Asian restaurant, I picked up the dipping sauce for the steamed dumplings and drank the last few drops. I made sure no one was looking and took the chance.

It was worth the risk!! Even if I had a little on the corner of my mouth 30 minutes later.


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