Mary Ellen has been reading a book that has me concerned. It raises expectations in women; it makes wives think their husbands are inadequate. That’s why tomorrow, I’m tossing in the trash the latest edition of Emily Post’s “Etiquette.”
The volume is almost 800 pages and weighs two pounds. You have to hold it with two hands, but don’t use those two hands for eating fried chicken, jumbo shrimp or corn on the cob, which require another whole set of rules.
The book was actually written by the great-great-grandchildren of the original Emily Post, who died in 1960. The rumor is that, despite her legion of admirers, very few attended her funeral because many were afraid they’d wear something inappropriate.
Chapter 5 of the book is all about eating, table manners and restaurant etiquette. The first rule is that when out for dinner, do not violently shake your napkin when you open it. Well, I was off to a bad start. That pretty much put a damper on my first magic trick at the table.
Rules regarding dining in a restaurant are similar to those covering eating at home, which is odd since the first chapter says a woman should always keep her handbag in her lap when dining out. If your wife does this at the dinner table in your kitchen, some trust issues need to be discussed.
Ms. Post’s tome raises some serious concerns about certain disturbing trends in our society. “Salad – to my consternation – is now served before the meal,” she says. Yes, that is something to be “consterned” about. But, is it permissible to walk out of the restaurant before you order, if the waitress has six facial piercings? Not a word on this.
How to eat a banana is something we have all struggled with. “At home, peel the banana halfway down and eat it bite by bite.” I’m on safe ground when the rules for humans are pretty much the same as for orangutans. At a restaurant, says Ms. Post, you should peel the whole fruit, cut it into pieces and eat with a fork. This is why ordering a banana off the dessert menu has never really caught on.
I’ve apparently violated all kinds of rules of etiquette when eating sushi, spaghetti, pizza and even soup, but I don’t want Emily Post’s ghost lecturing me on proper dining. It’s bad enough when my doctor looks at my cholesterol readings and tells me I’m not eating right.