The creation of America has been setting an example for the rest of the world…
If you never have read one of those “How-to-behave-books” get yourself one from the library and do yourself a favor by reading one.
Once upon a time there used to be many rulers and rules in every country. Then man invented America. Ever since those rules have gone the way the titles went. The creation of a free world has been changing people and behavior. Not only has the American-dollar changed the world’s investment ideas, and the American-Fast Food approach has invented a new food chain, but also the American way of “you-can-be-anybody-you-want-to-be” has canceled out much of the nonsense etiquette from the dark ages.
In restaurants there used to be rules of etiquette for guests too. French kissing indeed had never anything to do with French cuisine, but women’s dresses were once created to cover nudity instead of revealing such. I clearly remember the days when women in regular long pants were not allowed in some of the better establishments. I’m not going into details about hot-pants. There are still a few places were jackets and ties are mandatory. Out here in California many signs in restaurants tell their own story. “Shirts and shoes required,” indicate California’s casual style.
I also recall some of my teachers’ instructions about etiquette. Most of such is absolutely meaningless in today’s dining here in Monterey. May it be the recommended dress codes, forms of speech or some adults’ behavior in public places.
I was taught: “It’s the clothing which makes the man (Kleider machen Leute),” and was reminded always to wear a suit and matching tie when going out to dinner. Today, living in California, I am Americanized. I do not own a suit anymore. I donated all of them, …seemingly ions ago…, to charities. I wear my few selected ties only at work, in church and whenever I have to show up in front of a judge.
At the restaurant were I work, these days, fewer and fewer men dress up in suits. I get the impression that dark suits, which used to be proper dinner attire, are nowadays reserved for graduation, weddings and funerals. It is therefore a real pleasure for the eyes to see that the women have not changed as drastically. Many women do still dress up for the occasions such as wedding, birthday party, dinner reception, anniversary, dinner date or just a night out on the town with friends.
Looking at my customers’ shoes. Footwear matching the color of the pants used to be the norm, not anymore. Corresponding colors are obviously less important than comfort. Sneakers and gym-shoes used to be a clear “No-No!” at a dinner house, today it’s a common sight.
Here are a number of other rules I had to learn:
Men have to get up whenever their female table partner gets up.
While cutting food on my plate, the fork belongs into the left hand and the knife into the right.
You never eat with your fingers unless it is finger food or you wash your hands thoroughly before and after.
Long stem glasses are to be held on the long stem.
Cups have handles for one purpose only, to be raised and lowered and held on the appropriate handle.
In talking to a superior one doesn’t tell, one may listen and answer questions.
One never cusses in front of ladies.
One has to respect the elders.
There are many more of these rules of etiquette whatever you may want to call it. It’s good to know of their existence. If you never have read one of those “How-to-behave-books” get yourself one from the library and do yourself a favor to read it. I don’t follow the rules these days but I know em and that’s what can make a big difference at the workplace. By the way, there are many books written on etiquette(1) !
1. Books on etiquette date back to the fifteenth century: “The Babees Book” appeared around 1475, “Il Cortegiano” was published 1528, “Book of the Governour” was published 1531, thereafter many Royalties felt the need to write on etiquette, setting down rules for their people.