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San Clemente Journal

Returning to the Dining Graces

Feb 05, 2006 12:36PM ● By Don Kindred

by Kimberly Anderson

It seems that our country is gathering socially and entertaining more with each passing year. Be it in the home with a simple BBQ and swim party, a quick cup of coffee and bagel at the local Starbucks, a foot ball party, or a child’s birthday party (which, incidentally, have become so elaborate over the years that they deserve their own article) the reasons to celebrate or gather over a meal with friends or business acquaintance are limitless. Almost everywhere we go socially, food is present. This is why it is of the utmost importance that we know how to act and conduct ourselves at all times regardless if the setting is casual or formal.
Let’s take the restaurant, for instance. If there was a Top Ten List of rules for dining in a restaurant, I’m sure many of you would agree that cell phone use would be at the top of the list. Please, please, please, leave the cell phone in the car, turn it off, toss it, whatever you have to do, but do not talk on your cell phone in a restaurant. If expecting an emergency call, keep it on vibrate and walk outside to take the call. Nothing is ruder then talking on your cell phone at the table, showing no regard for the people sitting across from you or for others in the restaurant. 
Another restaurant rule that would surely make the list, would be allowing your children to run around the restaurant so you can socialize with your guest before or after the meal. You might be feeling relieved that you have a few minutes to sit and have an adult conversation while your children are entertaining themselves, but trust me, others in the restaurant are not entertained by your ill–behaved children and your lack of control over them. And that’s not even mentioning how dangerous this can be as the waiters carry their trays laden with food or drinks. 
Looking at the bigger picture. As a country we are defiantly on the cutting edge of some wonderful technology that will benefit our nation in the future. But as with all innovations, there can be a downside needing to be revealed and addressed. 
Our country seems to be moving in the wrong direction when it comes to simple manners, common courtesies and basic eating skills. Those nice sliver things that sit on either side of the plate at the table are called utensils and, sadly, many youngsters and adults do not know the correct way to use them. As a nation we seem to have taken the position that good and proper manners are outdated and just a thing of the past. Many parents are far more concerned about their child’s academics or sport future than their good manners. Likewise, our college students are very interested in making sure their resume is printed on the perfect paper, but fall shot when it comes to the actual interview over lunch. 
It’s often said, “Good manners really come from the heart, and good and proper dining skills are something anyone can learn”. 
How you hold your fork and knife while eating clearly demonstrates your social and economic background to those around you. This New Year, along with working out more, eating less and watching your budget, why not improve your social and dining skills? Because without doubt, the next social event you attend is sure to require them. b