Charm School: Wielding Your Weaponry at the Table
Is rudeness ruining your job opportunities? Corporate etiquette consultants are doing a brisk business these days. Why? Employers are learning that while many of their best and brightest new recruits may be brilliant at their jobs, they are washouts when it comes to knowing how to behave over lunch or dinner with a client.
Too often, the table manners that used to be taught at home no longer are. Families too rushed to eat together and drive-thru dining are just two of the factors contributing to this decline. In case you missed out, or need a refresher on how to handle tableware,, here’s some commonsense Eleanor Boykin has to say on the topic in her book This Way, Please, published in the 1940s:
“When a person forces you to notice his table manners by jabbing a sausage, guzzling his soup, making a bib out of his napkin, or doing something else unpleasant, you very naturally wonder “who fetched him up.” It is hard to excuse bad table manners, because it is so easy to have good ones. The important points can be boiled down to these three: Be tidy in your eating, handle your implements in the most convenient way, and avoid any act that might be disagreeable to others.”
She continues, “Use your imagination and common sense, and you can work out your own rules. Begin with the A.B.C. of eating, the handling of the knife and fork. Grab them as you would a spade, and you will find them awkward to manage. A stranglehold on the blade and prongs is no better; and you may get your fingers greasy besides. But place your hands gently over the handles, and you can wield them with ease and grace. . . . Most people know that the knife has but one duty–to cut foods that will not yield to the fork–and that knife-blade and one’s tongue never, never meet.”
Regarding the fork, Miss Boykin writes, “Don’t treat it like a pack horse and load potatoes and peas on its back atop a piece of meat. Don’t take more on your fork than enough for one mouthful. . . . Don’t pat your food tenderly or shape it into mounts with your fork–this is child;s play. So is marking on the tablecloth with the fork prongs and toying with your implements.”
For fun, here’s an old film clip that describes good table manners at home: http://youtu.be/_1imRX9n7hE
How are your knife-and-fork skills these days? If you’re not sure how well you’re wielding your weaponry, paying a little attention would be a very Sparkling Vintage thing to do!