Category Archives: Table manners

First date faux-pas

first date faux pas

I love first dates. So much can happen on a first date. Yes, it can be a short-lived experience, and all you’ve lost is time. But, generally, it’s where everything is new, and anything is possible.

Dating as a single mum has been a roller coaster of a ride. Sometimes it awakens the senses. Sometimes it’s even comedic. And yes, it can also be heart wrenchingly tragic. First dates are necessary, and often feel like hard work, sometimes they’re awkward, and sometimes, if you’re in sync with your date, it is a wonderfully warm experience that you want to revisit over, and over.

Surely, I thought to myself, there must be helpful guide on how to navigate a first date. Though it’s a shame to create a template that is devoid of personal idiosyncrasies and quirks, so  that it’s better to find out what you should NOT do on a first date, and let the rest be guided by your own individual personality. Yes, the etiquette of first dates.

The absolute biggest no-no is when a person talks badly of past relationships.

I researched my favourite etiquette resources, and they state that it’s still inappropriate to discuss religion, politics and money. I agree that discussing money with a near stranger is not a good idea, but today, when religion and politics are at the forefront of our lives, it seems rather impossible. It’s also possibly a good idea to broach those topics early, in case you have opposing ideas on them. It’s either going to produce a healthy discussion, or give you the exit you should take if you can’t stand his or her ideals or beliefs.

As to discussing sex, I have rarely experienced a first date when a man has offered this up for conversation. I’m sure that he thinks about it, and can be quite flirtatious, but it’s definitely up to the woman to initiate the topic. If a woman wants to get physical, she will let you know, just like our minx on our cover photo. If she prefers to establish a romantic relationship before getting physical, she will also guide that. It is acceptable to try to kiss a woman, and some women love that attention, but if she turns away, or indicates that she isn’t ready, then respect her wishes.

There are a few things that men should do. They will not appear old-fashioned if they open car doors for a woman, nor will it seem odd to help a woman with her coat. And even if those seem too much to do for your date, then at the very least you should open the door to the restaurant for your date. Typically the door opens out, and she should pass first, but if the door opens inwards, then you should walk through and hold the door open for her.

There is a very old world rule that says that men should always enter a restaurant before his date. This is to ward off all other gentlemen’s eyes to your date. Today, most women will walk directly behind the maitre-d or host, followed by her partner.

Table manners are also extremely important, and licking your knife, or your plate are forbidden. Tucking your napkin into your collar is only accepted when eating lobster or ribs, and the establishment normally supplies these.

Menu suggestions are great, but taking over and ordering on behalf of your date is not appropriate.

Answering your phone or texting is unacceptable. If you’re in a situation that requires you to keep your phone at the ready for work or if you have kids waiting at home, then let your date know.

And, as a general rule, if you invited your date, then you should pay for the meal. But I will write in depth on this important topic in an upcoming article. Too many have asked me what is the right etiquette with paying for dates.

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Breastfeeding in public

breastfeeding

This week, Sydney has been hit by a wave of controversy over breastfeeding in public. One television presenter on a morning show, David Koch (Kochie) has been dealing with the backlash of a comment he made last week on national television about a woman who was asked to leave a public swimming pool as she was breastfeeding her baby. He stated that women who breastfeed in public should be discreet and with class.

Unfortunately, many women were outraged by his comment, and found him to be discriminatory and sexist.

In an article today, he wrote, “The venom associated with my comments on breastfeeding has been extraordinary. From being called a buffoon with discriminatory views by the Fairfax Media critic Michael Idato, to being accused of hating kids, being jealous of babies and having a boob fetish.”
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/i-have-an-opinion–always-have-and-always-will-20130121-2d39n.html#ixzz2IgWxivkG

He declares that his wife, and mother of their 4 children, breastfed and did so with discretion. He also states that his two daughters breastfed their children.

It made me wonder what really is the right etiquette for breastfeeding in public?

Some women agree that discretion is necessary. That, though they want to breast feed their children, they will cover up when feeding, or move to a quieter and more discreet location. Some women think that they should be free to feed their children where they want, when they want.

I think that the latter argument shows little regard for others. Many people have cultural or religious stipulations about discretion. It may seem outwardly senseless to those women who want, or need, to breastfeed their children in public, but quite vulgar and disrespectful to others.

I recall when my son was born and I had family members over all the time. I had little desire to offend my parents by baring my breasts, so moved to private location. Etiquette really is about showing respect and consideration for those around you.

If you’re in the exclusive company of women with babies and toddlers, in a baby group or play group, then it would seem logical to feed children as you like. It’s all about the appropriate and courteous behaviour.

There are no laws that say that etiquette is obligatory. It’s just a question of choice.

I suppose that if men can stand side by side in urinals, and many new modern establishments have unisex toilets, then maybe the day will come when we can walk the planet unencumbered by the clothes on our back. The Amazonian’s have done so for centuries. But civilisation requires civility, and that includes modesty and privacy about baring their breasts.

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T’is the season to be jolly … That doesn’t mean ripped!

drunk

I must confess, I’m not a good drunk. Actually, I’m not an ugly drunk, I’m just not used to being drunk, so I haven’t really mastered the art of over drinking.

I’m a happy drunk. So in that, I am grateful. Those depressed, woeful drunks, who rant about all their misgivings and delve into the darkest parts of their psyche, when they are so oblivious, do make for the worst kind of drunks.

I’m not about to preach to those who need alcohol to get through their days. This isn’t that kind of site.

But, working out how to behave when you’re way too jolly is something that I’ve been wondering. I recently found myself in such a state at a Christmas party, going in and out of the oblivious sector of my brain… where moments pass in a little blank, and then something, or someone pulls you back to reality (or are they pulling you back to consciousness?). At one moment, a friend asked me where my shoes were… I couldn’t recall taking them off, and even comically looked down at my feet to check if my shoes were actually off.

I have a pet peeve about women who wander around in public without shoes on. So, you can imagine my chagrin to find myself in that particular predicament.

Though my behaviour pales in comparison to lots of drunken behaviour, it did make me wonder what kind of standard, yes, etiquette, should one follow when it comes to parties, cocktails, dining and how much alcohol is acceptable.

My friends tease me that I am such a light weight with alcohol. It seems that the more I try to keep up with them, the less I’m able to keep up.

Yes, the golden rule is sip your drinks, don’t gulp them. If you’re that thirsty, then alternate a soft drink with your alcoholic beverage. This is a wise idea anyhow, as it will help with the dehydration that alcohol takes on your body, and that can only help the healing process with the hangover the next morning.

Sticking to one type of alcohol purports to keep hangovers away too. But I can’t find any proof of that except that your body metabolises different chemicals in different ways, so the variances in white wine, red wine, champagne, beer and/or spirits require that the liver and kidney work in different ways, so that can cause hangovers, so I suppose it makes sense that this variable also contributes to the alcoholic reaction to your body.

Eating before drinking helps to absorb the alcohol.

Knowing your tipping point is always good. But there doesn’t seem to be a golden rule that works every time. Is it 2 glasses per hour, or 1? Definitely no more than 5 drinks per evening. And champagne has the added bubbly effect that seems to have a throttle to the inebriated state!

Unless you are intending to get really drunk, try drinking one standard drink (can of beer, shot of hard liquor)per hour, which is about the rate at which your liver can keep up. For most people, the most pleasant moment is when the first one kicks in (BAL around .05), and drinking more at that time just moves you away from the “sweet spot.” At one per hour, your blood alcohol level will tend to stay in that range, resulting in more pleasant feeling and less likelihood of doing something stupid. http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-a-Hangover

You know it’s time to go home when any, or all , of the following things happen;

– You lose time – this could actually be more serious than you think if it happens often. I worried that my virtual blackout may be serious, but it seems that if it’s just the one off, then it’s s simple trigger to the quantity of alcohol . I should just monitor the intake.

– You start making a fool of yourself, or worse, others. If your words start slurring, and you know it, then go home.

– You’re feeling the slump of sad thoughts or dismal feelings. Best to go home, get a good rest, eat a hearty meal on wake up, and go for a long walk or do some sport to move out of depressive or sad emotions.

– You’re making advances on people who are unavailable. A few years ago a woman that I’d met a few times impressed upon me how attracted she was to me, and that she would very much like to kiss me. I was blindsided. I had had too much to drink, and didn’t know how to brush her off. I raced out of the party and got myself home. She too was drunk, so had found the courage to make these advances. I didn’t think too much of it then, but think alcohol a very brazen lubricant.

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Dating (and) your mobile phone

couple-texting

So, there are two parts to this story, one about a relationship that only exists thanks to your mobile phone, and the one that shouldn’t even figure on a date.

I know that all you single guys and girls, and those who have been single in the past 15 years (does that mean 90% of the population?), can attest to waiting for the text message or response from an interesting other. Yes, you know the way it goes;

You 7pm: “Thanks for a terrific time last night”

Him 10am: “Yes, it was fun”

You 10:45am: “We should do it again some time?”

Him (2 days later) 3pm: “Love to”

This is a brush off. You may interpret it as anything other than a brush off… but nonetheless, it is. He is potentially going to contact you at a later date for a hook up (if hook up means sex). But he is not interested in you for a romantic loving relationship. If he was, he would do any, or all, of the following things:

1) use the phone as it was originally invented by Alexander Graham Bell to talk with you;

2) call you to see if you had a good time together;

3) make an appointment to see you again;

4) want you to feel special.

My fella and I went on our first date, and though we went to a very special restaurant by the harbour overlooking the magnificent views of Sydney, and had a very relaxed meal getting to know each other by chatting about our respective lives, there really was one slightest moment when I felt the hook of affection grab me. As we walked out the restaurant, he paused, and asked me, “Have you had a nice time tonight?” It was the simplest question, and yet it struck me that he showed concern that I had enjoyed his company. It was the smallest sign of vulnerability that he shared, and I reflected that if he hadn’t shown it, I would have found him rather indifferent and detached.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad that he has a healthy ego and displays confidence. But the detachment that single men, and women, display when dating makes me wonder why they date at all? When did romance become so wrought with bravado and wariness that displaying warmth and desire gets confused with dependency and neediness?

I digress… the point here being, showing someone that you enjoyed their company should not be done by text, it should be done face to face, or at the very least by phone. And by the same token, asking someone if you can see each other again should not be by text. Your relationship is not with your phone. It is with a real person. It is a little nuanced, but text messages in early stages of relationships, especially in dating, should only have practical content, not be emotionally loaded. A text to confirm a time or place is acceptable. A text to state that you’re running five minutes late is also acceptable. But a text asking “Are we ok?” is far too loaded. Not only will the recipient feel cornered, but you will also feel weakened by the cry out.

Know this, people will always behave the only way they can. That means, if a person doesn’t fancy another, he can’t force himself to care. If he doesn’t care, then he will do things that display that lack of affection, ie, he will not call.

The shoe fits for both sexes. It’s not unusual for me to cease communicating with a man if I don’t feel a warm connection. It’s not that I’m particularly heartless when I’m disinterested, it’s just that I don’t want to encourage them or send the wrong message. Yes, if I cared, I’d communicate. I don’t mean that I’d send messages all day, every day, but the messages would leave no doubt that the person mattered. Yes, I’d pick up the phone and make a call.

Onto the more practical part of this article, when is it acceptable to use your mobile phone on a date?

The short answer is, as you already know, it’s unacceptable to use your phone on a date.

If, for example, you have children, or are “on call” due to your profession, then it’s polite to let your date know, and then ask him/her if they won’t mind if your phone is accessible. I’ve yet to meet a person who would deny such a request.

You should always leave your phone screen visible, as you don’t want your date to think that you’re hiding the identity of your caller. And should you be expecting such a call, then leave your phone in your bag, and make the ring tone just loud enough to hear it. Yes, be polite. Your date will appreciate your mobile phone etiquette.

Should your phone ring, then it is polite to leave the table and take your call in the restaurant lobby or in a more discreet place. Our old world had powder rooms in the toilets, and it might be time to reinstate them to give us a venue to rush off our text messages and upload and download.

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What’s with the caps indoors?

cap1

Tonight, at dinner with friends at the local ribs joint, we were enjoying that etqt is raising awareness for modern day issues.

We heartily ate our ribs with our hands, watching each others faces quickly become fodder for all the sweet and sticky sauce. Our bibs were collective messes, or “Rorschach” ink blots – easily translated as a great meal. I’m sure that there’s an article here somewhere about proper eating etiquette.

We were each running through a list of behaviour that always surprises us. However, most of the topics we seemed to differ on the correct etiquette.

One topic where we were all in absolute agreement is about the correct etiquette with caps, the baseball cap, the truckers cap, actually any cap.

They are to keep the sun out of your eyes, obviously for playing baseball, and for driving your truck. We agree that they are recommended for shielding eyes from the sun for lots of other occasions too. But where they are not acceptable is indoors.

So why do people still choose to wear them indoors? I guess it’s a vanity or ego thing. Men losing their hair seem to think it’s a substitute for hair, or maybe they actually think we will think that there’s a full head of hair under the cap.

So, after some research on what’s the correct etiquette here, it is unanimously declared that caps indoors are unacceptable. There seems to be a limited number of places where they are acceptable, like in elevators, where you may find that you can’t remove your cap as your hands are full carrying packages.

One American online source on Hatequette (http://www.manyhattyreturns.com/2010/08/10/etiquette-of-hat-wearing-for-men/) states that all hats must be removed in the following places:
As a general rule men should remove their hats when indoors, as follows (not necessarily comprehensive):
-In a home (particularly in another’s home)
-Indoors at work (especially in an office). This rule would not apply of course to protective headgear such as construction helmets.
-At a movie or other indoor theatrical performance.
-In a Christian Church (or perhaps in another place of worship depending on the rules applicable) except for the priests. There are different rules for different religions and they also relate to the type of headgear to be worn. For example, Jewish men wear a yarmulke, skull cap, as a sign of humility before God. Some Jewish men wear the yarmulke all the time except for swimming or bathing at least.
-In a court of law (wearing a hat has often been treated as a contempt of court).
-In a restaurant ( sometimes it is deemed acceptable to keep a hat on while at the lunch counter of a diner or café
).

The biggest question today is what to do with one’s cap when it’s removed? The hat-check room would make a great revival.

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