The trials and tribulations of sticky dining situations can make or break a perfectly good dinner date! Besides the worry of using the right utensil and not dropping anything down the front of your clothes, there are a few other things that people should be aware of. These little habits I’m about to expound upon may seem minor when compared to the big picture of life but they can have a deep impact on the impression you make and the future of your dating history, trust me on this.
I was conducting one of the luncheon seminars I do on Courtesies Around Cuisine for a highly reputable business college when I ran across someone with a challenge. This man had used his bread knife to butter his bread and now he sat with the main course in front of him ready to eat. Here was the problem: He refused to use the knife he had butter on to cut any other piece of food on his plate.
When he told me he needed another bread knife I gestured to the one he had sitting on the side of his bread plate that had the tiniest smear of butter on the side. “Your knife is sitting right there ready to use.” I smiled at him adding, “The chicken is tender and won’t need a steak knife to cut it.” Thinking to myself that he must think he needs a sharper knife for the meat.
“But that knife has butter on it.” He didn’t smile back at me.
“It’s perfectly normal and expected for you to wipe the extra butter off the knife on the side of your bread plate” I informed him thinking how proper he was trying to be.
“No, I won’t use that knife if there’s any other food on it.” He sat there in silence.
I thought for a moment about this sticky situation and wondered to myself how many utensils he must go through at home. Also, what does he do at someone else’s home?
I tried again; “You can always ask a waitstaff person to bring you an additional utensil, especially if you ever drop anything on the floor, however I’m not certain why you need an additional knife.”
His answer was simple. “That’s the way I want it!”
I was reminded of a spoiled child that would refuse to eat without having his own way and how unattractive it was. Is he wrong? Is this a huge breach of etiquette? Not really, it’s just incredibly picky and selfish.
I felt I needed to bring a close to this situation so I told him the truth, “You can always ask for another knife. You can choose to behave in whatever manner you think is best. I want you to think for a moment about why you are having this lunch and why you would be eating with someone else. If it’s because you want to be with them, enjoy their company and build a relationship, then maybe it’s not so important to have a new utensil for each type of food. If on the other hand your need for these additional things is more important than making others feel comfortable and at ease you will be the one to decide. By putting others first you will reap the benefit of a nice time.
Putting your pickiness ahead of politeness means you will deal with the discomfort you put others through as everyone waits for you to get another knife when the one you have is perfectly fit to be used.”
Etiquette is always a choice.
Here in is the whole point of etiquette. Do you want to make others feel comfortable and right in your presence or are you more concerned with yourself?
You will need to ask yourself this a lot as you date and go through life. Just like sending a plate back that isn’t quite what you ordered. It’s perfectly fine to send a plate back to be redone. If you choose to send your plate back you must consider that you just put whomever is at the table with you into an uncomfortable situation. Do they wait for you and let their plates get cold? Do they go ahead and eat and let you sit there with nothing in front of you? How can they not feel uncomfortable either way? Usually the best solution is to just make do with what you ordered and concentrate on the relationship if it is important to you. The exception I find is that if someone I am dining with does receive something not up to snuff, I always suggest that both of our plates are taken back and brought out together when they are both right. This will show our date that you are paying attention to their needs and have your priorities straight. With dating relationships as with all relationships the people are more important than the food, environment or poor service.
When you put your needs and pickiness before your dinner date you might find yourself eating alone! Of course you could find someone who is equally picky and then both of you can ask away until you have everything exactly right!