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Mr. Manners

2010 May 11
by Pamela

Bob grew up in a home that was big on table manners. “Thumbing your food”, the incorrigible act of using your thumb in place of a knife, gave siblings license to smack your hand. If his Dad saw anyone with their elbows on the table, he would give them a friendly jab with the prongs of his fork.

The apple never falls far from the tree, does it?

Bob has been telling Mary Claire that we are going to start teaching her proper table etiquette. But so far it’s only been gentle “please chew with your mouth closed” refrains. I don’t know what pushed him over the proverbial edge tonight. Maybe it was the fact that she chose, rather than a civilized fork, to eat with the bamboo prongs we use to pull errant english muffins out of the toaster. Or maybe it was the fact that she wouldn’t take her elbows off the table despite 50,000 reminders. But eventually he had had enough.

“Mary Claire, we are starting with your manners training RIGHT NOW. Take your elbows off the table and go get a proper fork.” She was clearly alarmed at his change in demeanor and even Elizabeth grew quiet.

“Now, sit up straight”. I found myself doing the same, wanting to be a good example. “Put your legs under the table”. I quickly uncrossed my legs and tried to look prim. “Okay, take a little food and slide it onto your fork like this. Good. Now put the food into your mouth, keep your lips pressed together, and chew quietly.”

All three of us put the forks into our mouths in unison, with Elizabeth looking on with interest.

We are all sitting up straight and chewing quietly, nodding approvingly at one another. Just then Elizabeth looks at all three of us pointedly, then blows out the most enormous fart you’ve ever heard. The kind normally reserved for men who’ve been on a bar stool for three hours too long.

After the laughter died down, Bob quietly said, “We’ll try this again tomorrow.”

3 Responses leave one →
  1. August 17, 2010

    This had me LOL!! Can’t imagine Bob’s voice getting firm!! He reminds me of Marvin…even keeled!!

  2. Rich Rykens permalink
    August 18, 2010

    I think the British must have a gene mutation that makes us uptight about table manners. Reading this entry brought the memories flooding back; of being told to sit up straight, don’t slouch, always use your knife and fork, keep your elbows off the table! Corporal punishment was generally sparse at the Rykens dinner table, except for occasions when the petulant one (uh, suprise…it was me) decided to try and push it. I can already see myself in Bob’s shoes, trying to instill a little civility at the table. I can’t help it…it’s genetic.

    • Pamela permalink*
      August 20, 2010

      I’m having trouble imagining you petulant at all Rich! Thanks for reading and responding. And watch your elbows Caroline!

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