As often as I can, whether in-person or via Facebook (I haven't started a Twitter account yet) I ask people what they want to hear about on this site. Manners came up over and over again. I guess you guys think that the other sex (both male and female) are just a bunch of uncouth, rude, pigs. You're the boss and I just work here, so with pleasure, here is a post about manners, dating, modernity and anything else I could think to throw in.
Let me lay the framework by saying that despite my somewhat pro-female message *wink again*, I love men and I love the romantic notion of allowing a man to "take charge" in many situations to a certain degree. I LIKE letting you take the lead a little bit and giving you a chance to exhibit good manners. My life is EXHAUSTING and sometimes, I like the idea of you choosing a restaurant, you asking me out for a specific evening, you suggesting something to do, etc. Not ALWAYS, but sometimes. So, it is important to immediately draw a distinction between wanting men to have good manners and wanting to be respected as an individual. Just because I don't want to you call me "Dollface" and snap your fingers at me, does not mean I don't want you to hold the door open. For some reason, there are a lot of guys who cannot delineate this distinction.
Contrary to what many people believe, I wasn't raised by wolves. My stepmother, who
unfortunately passed away, was an excellent etiquette teacher and one of the most gracious women I've ever had the pleasure of being near. She had impeccable manners and she drilled proper behavior into our heads daily. Do I always do everything I am supposed to be doing? NO. Oh dear, god, no. No, I don't. In fact, a lot of the time, I am acting the opposite way of what she taught me; but I know the rules. I am aware of when I am openly eschewing appropriate etiquette and I can turn it on and off. A lot of the time, I have no right to act as judge, jury and executioner on here, but I know a little bit about this topic. I will interject my opinion related to the behavior of both men and women and I promise I will be completely candid regarding the areas where I am a total
I think men know more than they let on. I think that most men, whether they were taught proper manners or not, pick up what they are, or pick up the idea of what proper manners are, somehow. Most people aren't taught about sex by their parents, but they pick that up somehow, right? You may not be comfortable with the behavior if you aren't forced into or exposed to it repeatedly, but you are at least aware of it. So, let's run through things from start to finish. You probably know most of it already, you just don't do it.
Just to start things off on the right foot, I want to let you in on my NEWEST new-found addiction, which is "OldTVTime" on YouTube. This GEM of a channel is nothing but videos from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Most of them are "advice" clips or instructional in nature and I cannot get enough of it. Some of it is patently offensive, horribly stereotypical and so campy it makes John Waters look like the leader of the Republican National Convention, but that is partially why I love it. This is a long video, but enjoyable when you have the time. "Dating Do's and Don'ts" from 1949. Too bad "Janet" was too much of a snob to go out with... *wink a third time*
1. Asking a girl on a date: Call her. Don't text. Also, this has come up a lot lately - why the fuck are you guys giving your numbers to girls and telling them to text or call you? No, no, no. Nope. That is offensive. THREE TIMES recently I heard from people that either they emailed their number to a chick or got the guy's number from somewhere or whatever and they were supposed to touch base with him. One guy I talked to was really, really, really into this chick and asked her to text him, so this isn't a thing with just chicks you aren't that enthused about. If you like her enough to want to go out with her and you are excited about it, then YOU GET HER phone number and then you CALL HER. I have become so addicted to texting, I almost don't want to answer my phone anymore and that is just wrong. I am a very busy person and for regular interactions with my friends, I prefer texting. I can be almost impossible to get in touch with if you don't text me, but there some things and some times I feel require a phone call. If you want to ask a girl out, my opinion (not advice, because everyone is different) is A. Get her phone number B. Call her C. Ask her out. Texting is fine once you've made the initial call. You can text all you want for things like, where do you want to meet, what time, whatever. I could go on and on and on and on about texting. Someone needs to write a book of etiquette JUST about text messages and quite frankly, maybe it will be me, but I don't have the time at the moment. Once you set up the date, don't cancel unless your mother dies. Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but try not to bail. You get like, one "Get Out of Jail Free" card. Do NOT bail more than once.
Ladies, if a gentleman has the nerve and the respect to call you, ACTUALLY call you to ask you out, answer the phone. Either answer the phone or call back as soon as practicable. In Jane Nichols' post the guy called her on a Sunday and her intention when she missed his calls was to call him back after work Monday. That is acceptable. If you wait any longer, then you never really wanted to go out with him to begin with. Ignoring calls and text messages is rude and childish. If you decide you do not wish to see someone you gave your number to after all, YOU MUST TELL THEM. I am going to admit right now that I am guilty of doing this. I am guilty of ignoring people instead of politely and maturely telling them I am not interested. The fact of the matter is, I am just starting to kind of re-learn my opinion on all these topics and I am not going to do that anymore. I dislike myself for doing it; it really is asshole behavior. If you are older than 25, then that is not cool. You need to tell people if you don't want to go on the date and you need to tell them if you don't want to see them again. You're an adult, act like one. "Thank you for the nice time, but I would prefer if we were just friends." or, "I had a good time, but I would prefer not to go out again." I don't know, something.
2. Manners in general, the basics on dates: It isn't 1952, so there are some things which have gone by the wayside, but there are some things you SHOULD STILL BE DOING. Here is how this works:
- If you pick me/her up, which you probably won't, because unless I already know you, I don't want you to know where I live, but if you pick her up, GO UP TO THE DOOR. Do not sit in the car and either text or wait for her to come out. If you meet her somewhere, make DAMN SURE you beat her there and when she gets there? Stand up. Yes, this is a thing. You don't have to be all weird and do the thing where you stand up every time she gets up to go to the bathroom or comes back from the bathroom, but STAND UP when she gets there the first time, it's polite.
- Ladies, BE ON TIME. If you don't care enough to make the effort to be on time, then you probably didn't want to go on the date in the first place. In the last two months there was a date I went on that I was almost 45 minutes late for, I swear to god. That is horribly rude. The reason was that I had a bunch of stuff at my house I was trying to get done and I actually had plans to go out after the "date". I had another date though a few weeks later with someone else and I had just as much to do, but I made the effort and I was on time. The only difference? One date I wanted to go on and one I didn't really care about. BE ON TIME WHETHER YOU WANT TO OR NOT, lateness is rude. I am the guiltiest, guilty person of all time at being late, but I am also aware that it is terribly rude. Guys, if she does ride in the car with you, you may open her car door for her if you happen to be standing right there, but don't make a big production about running around and opening car doors all night. Doing things such as that looks lame and desperate.
- However... always open EVERY OTHER DOOR FOR HER and let her walk in first. Just do it. I don't know why this grinds my gears, but it does. I am a modern lady, but you damn well better open that door for me. If there are two doors in a row (as in, a door to the outside and then ANOTHER door to the restaurant), you should open both. This isn't "Your Turn, My Turn".
- Do not try to order for me, but please also don't be all wimbly and weird about the whole, "Let's just get whatever you want" thing. Being polite and conscientious with a girl does not necessarily mean forcing her to "drive" in every situation, in order to allow her to get or do whatever she wants. It's actually not nice, it's kind of annoying. "I love the calamari here" is a great way to take the pressure off the ten minute discussion about what fucking appetizer to order. Here is the deal; I have an opinion and I don't mind telling you what I do or do not care for, what I don't like is when you act as if the only thing that matters is what I like, because it makes me feel self conscious. I don't WANT you to drink wine you don't like, go to a restaurant you hate and split an appetizer you would never have ordered otherwise because it's what I suggested, that is STUPID. Here is how this should go down:
Dude: "What were you thinking of drinking?"
Me: "Everything in the entire place, what do they have? In fact, can they just wheel the bar over here? Maybe we should be sitting at the bar?"
Okay, I am kidding, I'm kidding. Let's start again.
Dude: "What were you thinking of drinking?"
Me: "I was going to have wine, you?"
Dude: "I could do wine, would you like to split a bottle of wine?"
Me: "Sure, what do you like?"
Dude: "I like red, dry, and since we're at an Italian restaurant, would you like something Italian?"
Me: "Yeah, I like Italian wine sometimes, have you had any of the ones on the list?"
BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, so on and so forth.
What was good about that interaction? It was a BACK AND FORTH. If I disagree with you, I am perfectly capable of saying, "I don't really care for red wine." Or, "I don't really care for Italian wine" Or, "I don't really care for calamari" Or, "I don't really care for you and I am getting up and leaving right now." I will offer you my opinion, but I would like to know yours, so that we can both have an enjoyable experience. It also offers an opportunity for me to learn about you. I did not go out with you to just get a bunch of things I like with no regard for what your personal taste may be and I did not go out with you to play a guessing game about what you might like. Ain't nobody got time for that.
What will ANNOY THE SHIT OUT OF ME is first, you sitting there insisting that I pick everything out myself and putting me on the spot so that I have to guess what you like. I now have to try to be charming and witty while also being a mind reader and I just didn't sign up for that. Alternatively, you choosing everything as if you were the Sultan of Brunei and I am lucky to be graced with your presence will make me just as crazy and irritable. Nope. Say what you like, I will say what I like and we will somehow meet in the middle. Ladies, if you are asked to participate in the ordering, choosing of a place to eat or what have you, be polite, but please actually provide an opinion. I realize how tempting it is to just say, "I don't care", but that makes you look a little boring.
- During the date, you should pull out my chair, IF it would not be awkward grandstanding to do so, ask me lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of questions about me and at least pretend to be interested. I will also ask you lots of questions about you and I will actually be interested in the answers. I will ask follow up questions and try to engage in conversation, but I will quickly notice if it starts to feel like I am interviewing you. It isn't that I want to talk about myself the whole time or that I love talking about myself; it's that I am analyzing you to see how much of an effort you will put in to getting to know me and how good you seem to be at it. How good are you at asking questions and how good are you at paying attention (or pretending to pay attention to) the answers? If you're shitty at it now, then you will probably be really self-centered later.
- LADIES - Don't talk about yourselves the whole time, be engaged, ask questions, don't order super expensive shit, but DO ORDER FOOD AND EAT IT FOR GOD'S SAKE, have an opinion, but be open to shit, try new things, be nice. This isn't fucking rocket science people.
- If I have a coat on, especially if there is a coat check, then yes, help me with my coat. There are some things which feel forced and phony, but you can make this feel natural. My friend Clark Gable does, but I understand he was raised with it, so it may take some practice for other guys to make it seem less cheesy. If I am wearing like, a ski parka, then no, don't help me with my coat. If we are at a dive bar or Comet Burger, then no, don't help me with my fucking coat. If we get even the littlest bit dressed up, or if it is a real "date" date, then yes, make an effort to exhibit proper manners.
- Do not, under any circumstances, unless we have plans to meet up with other people after we have dinner or something, answer YOUR PHONE or text with ANYONE unless you are a doctor on-call or it is your mother and she is dying. Ladies, if you even LOOK at your phone... ooooohhh... grrrrr... that is SUPER rude. If you have somewhere better to be, then you should be there. Sometimes? If I go out with someone I am actually interested in giving my undivided attention to, I will leave my phone in my car. If you can maintain restraint and only look at your phone when he goes in the bathroom or when you do, okay... maybe. However, if you are on a date and you are one of those people who puts their phone on the table (I don't care if you're male or female) and then actually looks at it when someone texts you, then I hate you. I am not referring to when you go out with your girlfriend and I am not talking about really casual settings, like if you are at the bar with a big group of people. I am talking about a one-on-one, actual date-date with someone you are still getting to know. PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY.
3. Table Manners: I hate eating in front of people I don't know very well. I was taught excellent table manners, but eating in front of people I don't know all that well or have never eaten in front of before makes me crazy nervous. I don't know why! It just gives me anxiety. It doesn't matter who they are, they can be male or female, young or old; eating in front of new people, even business colleagues, makes me break out in a cold sweat. I am somewhat neurotic anyway (in a super laid back way... I am a laid-back-worrier is how I would describe it) and I am always convinced that something ridiculous will happen. It usually does. Still, I was taught good table manners and if I am relaxed enough to not behave as if I am being examined in a petri dish, I do quite well.Sadly, unless I know you really, really well, eating in front of people I don't know well makes me nervous. Dumb. I am a weirdo. Shall we review some SERIOUS basics of table manners?
- Put your napkin on your lap. Seriously. How soon it has to go on your lap depends on where the napkin is. For example, if the silverware is rolled in the napkin, you may usually wait until bread or an appetizer is served before choosing to unroll the napkin and place it in your lap (although it is perfectly acceptable to unroll it and put on your lap right away). If the napkin is anywhere else? Put it in your lap right away. Especially if it is folded in the middle of the place setting and EXTRA-SPECIALLY if there is a charger, or if the napkin is stuffed in a glass somehow. Since we don't live on a cruise ship in the 1980s, it probably won't be folded in a glass, but just in case. There are still banquet halls on the east side of town, after all.
- Keep your elbows off the damn table
- Wait until everyone has their food before you begin eating, unless the rest of the table is INSISTENT that the rest of the party begin eating.
- Do not chew with your mouth open. I mean, seriously. Ew.
-Hold your fork appropriately and not like a weapon. Eat slowly and purposefully. Cut ONE BITE at a time. Do not ever put ketchup on a steak... just don't. Do not to put ketchup on anything if you can help it. I don't think there's much which is improved by the addition of ketchup. Now, mayonnaise... that is a different story. Mayonnaise was given to us by the gods and I will excuse the use of mayonnaise on or with almost anything.
- This is a pet peeve of mine - do not take a roll and cut it in half and then butter the whole fucking thing like some kind of indentured servent. Bleh. Don't do that. Do not take a piece of bread and butter the whole thing either. Here is the appropriate way to eat a piece of bread/roll/whatever: Take said bakery item, place on side plate. Take the butter, and portion off an appropriate approximate amount for your bakery item and put it on your side plate as well. Now, tear off small bite-size pieces from the bakery item and using your butter knife, put a small amount of butter (SMALL) on each bite size piece AS YOU EAT THEM. Place the piece in your mouth. Chew. Swallow. Repeat. Do not take huge bites out of a slovenly buttered, giant piece of bread like a turn-of-the-century British orphan on Christmas Day. Restraint.
- Do not ever push your plates away or stack them up in some big Jenga game at the end of the table. I was a server for a long time and while I sort of (sort of) appreciate that, I also think you're tacky. I am perfectly capable of clearing your table without your assistance. Just sit there and have a nice conversation with your date, I will clear your table, heathen. This isn't the seafood buffet at Big Boy. Unless it is... and then, well... good luck with that.
Still confused? Awww, you know Saraswati would never leave you in the dark without a match. Here is an instructional video to help you out with things, circa 1951. Chuck is so worried about his table manners, he won't go to the "supper party", so he gets a visit from his "future self" who benevolently instructs him in the ways of etiquette. You must know anyone who wears a sweater that snappy CAN'T BE WRONG! (This is video is absolutely pheonominal by the way, you really should make time for it), Oh Golly!
4. Paying for Things: This is a touchy area, because not all women feel the way I do, however, if I leave my house, I will only do so if I am prepared to pay my own way. I am not completely against men paying for dates, but to be completely honest... I sort of prefer to split the tab. I know a lot of people will hate that. In fact, there are a ton of people, both men and women, who will strongly disagree with me. Here is my rule of thumb: Anything "cheap", meaning, if we just go for drinks and the bill is under $40, yeah, I think you should probably pay. If we eat something, like an appetizer, or if the bill is $50 or above, I will ALWAYS offer to pay and I will be rather persistent about it. If we actually go out to dinner and have wine or whatnot, personally I will make you split the tab with me and I probably won't take no for an answer, at least the first couple of times. If we just go to a chill place and drink a couple of beers and the check is like $25 and you ask me for money, I will think you are lame. I will pay for my own shit, but I will think
you are lame. I don't know where I picked this up and it is my own arbitrary rule, but for some reason I attribute allowing someone to buy me a nice dinner with showing caring and I would have to have real feelings for you to permit you to do that. It isn't a sex thing or that I would feel as if I "owed" you, I just don't let strangers buy me things. Maybe that sounds sort of emotionally guarded, but I never want to seem like part of going on a date for me is getting treated to something. I am there to see you, get to know you and hang out, not for "free" anything. Not everyone feels this way and there are A LOT of women who believe that if a dude asks a lady out, he should be prepared to pay. I have
a girlfriend who says that she will go to dinner with anyone once, because, "Hey, it's a free meal." It actually makes me uncomfortable to allow you to buy dinner for me and that is probably my own stupid issue. Here is the bottom line, I think it should be up to the chick. You should offer to pay and if she is me, she will act one way and if she is not me, she will act another way. Follow her lead.
I went and had a couple of drinks with someone and our tab was like, $24. He threw down a $20 and I didn't have any cash, so I actually put $4 and a tip on my debit card. He said he didn't want to break another $20, which makes NO sense to me. I think he's
lame. I would almost rather have just paid the whole thing and gotten to tell him that I think he's lame.
I think that's about all I have (and I realize it's a lot). I am not going to get into the whole issue of kissing at the end of a date, or whether you should go home with people or not, because that is a whole other topic. What I will briefly touch on is a book I found when I was looking for things for this post. I found a lot of old etiquette guides for women online and as you can probably assume, they are very, very funny. You can probably imagine some of the antiquated advice they provide but even I was surprised by some of the rules. This book is entitled "A Hand-Book of Etiquette for Ladies", written in 1890 and if you have a Kindle, it is available free in the Amazon store.
Dining and Entertaining:
"During the week which follows the entertainment, each of the guests owes a visit to the entertainer. Converse about the dinner, the pleasure you have enjoyed, and of the persons whom you have met there."
Listen, I've had plenty of dinner parties and parties in general and I can tell you with absolute certainty that you had better not show up at my house for AT LEAST a week after I had to feed and entertain you.
"Ladies should not have to leave the table before the end of the entertainment, unless from urgent necessity. If it is a married lady, she requests some one to accompany her; if unmarried, she goes with her mother."
I love everything about that. First, I am imagining myself at a dinner at a restaurant with friends and asking my VERY, VERY, VERY soon to be ex-husband to accompany me away from the table and next I am very entertained by the idea that it assumes if you are single, you take your mother with you everywhere you go.
Balls and Dances:
"Pay attention to the dance, but not so marked as to appear as if that attention was necessary to prevent a mistake. A lively manner harmonizes with the scene; but, to preserve this, it is not necessary to be boisterous. Refinement of manners has, in women, an unspeakable charm."
Um. These people have never, will never and should never see me dance.
"It is better to say too little than too much in company; let your conversation be consistent with your sex and age."
"Never laugh at your own remarks; it may be a very agreeable excitation, but it invariably spoils what you are saying."
"Never introduce your own affairs for the amusement of the company; such discussions cannot be interesting to others, and the probability is that the most patient listener is laying the foundation for some tale to make you appear ridiculous."
OKAY, AND THAT'S JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF THAT. Apparently, I would not have been a good Victorian. Have a lovely "Fat Tuesday", dear readers. Engage in all sorts of self-indulgent nonsense, just remember to mind your manners.