From Stephanie in Vermont:
“My boyfriend is a chef and has horrible table manners. Despite coaxing and the evil eye he persists in holding his silverware with his fists and ignoring basic table manners. We would love to eat out and I am graduating law school this year so we find ourselves in more and more formal dining situations. After five years my nagging is proving to be effective. How do I convince him to shape up?”
Lizzie Post: Nagging does generally prove to be ineffective. I think this is one where it’s not going to change unless he can be convinced and really feel genuinely that he does need to make this change. Telling him that he looks like a slob or he’s a total cretin is never going to do it. I’m hoping he’s the kind of guy that would understand that your business world is going to be one that he’s going to participate in sometimes and that that is a place where he needs to have that level of skill when dining out with someone else. And if you really can’t prove it to him put a mirror in front of him while you guys eat dinner at home one night and see if he can see it.
Rico Gagliano: I think anybody would be frightened by looking at themselves when they eat.
Lizzie Post: Right? But that’s actually an exercise we tell people to do. Go out to eat with yourself for a night and see if you’d like to sit across from you.
Brendan Francis Newnam: Guys. There’s a deeper question here though. Haven’t you seen this movie before? Stephanie is changing. She’s got a law degree. I don’t know if they’re lifestyles are ever going to mesh.
Daniel Post Senning: There might be some compromise here. ‘You know honey, or dear or sweetie, what happens in the privacy and the comfort of our home is really something we can talk about, we can negotiate.’
Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning are co-authors of the 18th edition of the Emily Post Manners Manual, run the Emily Post Institute in Vermont and are the great great grandchildren of Emily Post herself.