Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Poor Manners: The Proof is in the Pudding

“Here it is,” our hostess announced, “the banana pudding is ready.” She proudly put it on the table next to small bowls and spoons. Her guests started helping themselves. And help themselves they did. The pudding had a crunchy, toasted topping. Within three servings most of the topping was gone. What remained was a pale, picked over mess. Guests had dug in and on the way out skimmed over the top of the pudding stripping it of its crunchy touch. The father of one of the strippers, a ten-year-old boy, just watched almost admiringly while missing an opportunity to teach his son some manners.

It was a pitiful display of greed, selfishness and total inconsideration for other guests. We can imagine what these same culprits would do to a stringbean casserole and its crispy onion top layer! Would you trust your strawberry shortcake to them? We shudder to think what they would do if the pudding were instead a pecan pie.

There are picky eaters and then there are picky eaters. They pick with their fingers for the perfect strip of bacon. They shovel food from bowls or plates onto their plates instead of properly serving themselves by using the serving utensils to pick up and transport the food. They will ruin a dish of green peas and ham by picking out the ham to satisfy their vegetarian leanings while secretly enjoying the flavor of pork. And they will pick through a bowl of nuts looking for precious cashews. (When serving nuts there should always be a small spoon in the bowl.)

Don’t be the pig at a dinner party. Consider the number of people who still have to eat. Consider that just like you, they’ll probably want some of the topping too. Consider that just like you, they don’t like the idea of random fingers doing the walking through the food. If there’s one more serving of something left, look around, ask, “Is it all right for me to finish this?” No one’s going to say, ‘no’. You’re displaying courtesy and thoughtfulness and your hosts will probably urge you to take it.

Language, how well you speak it, can tell people who you are and where you came from. The same goes for manners. The proof was certainly in this pudding.


svh said...

This reminds me of the scene in Henry and June at Anais Nin's luncheon, where Miller helps himself to the entire top of a souffle.

Nonnie said...

You know what it reminds me of? The episode of Mary Tyler Moore where Mary threw a dinner party and Sue Ann Nivens cooked Veal prince Orlov. Lou Grant helped himself to most of it. Oh, I'm dating myself now.