Well well, seems Emily Post died and made The Plaza Hotel king. Of etiquette, that is. The home of stuffy old fancy dinners, aesthetically naive childhood dream weddings, and a rambunctious turtle toting Eloise is about to launch a series of modern etiquette classes specifically curated to help those "unfinished" and socially aspirational amongst us navigate this oh so unique millennial age of manners and misdemeanors.
Sure, you could sign yourself up for an adult finishing school - set aside a weekend to traipse off to class, notepad in hand. You know, because that doesn't sound desperately depressing or anything. Might as well add in a pair of adult braces, and a horrible WASPy nickname like Trip or Bunny. But alas, there is no need for you to part with $2,750 for an "intensive" weekend program of 'chins up' and 'shoulders back.' I'm here to pass along the Cliffsnotes of everything you've been doing horribly, disgustingly, unforgivably wrong all these years.
- Do you have to swipe right on people you know? Honestly, while some would say this is common courtesy, it's wholly unnecessary. Unless you'd really tap that, why swipe that?
- When it comes to the bill, one should always offer to pay. If you're met with opposition, let it go graciously. One should never expect to be paid for, and should receive and respect any such treat as exactly such.
- First dates are rough. No one's ever quite sure how to act, and often the anticipation of what's going to happen in two minutes kills any hope of being present in the now. While some would preach feeling out the situation, and offering up bits of yourself as seem appropriate, I say go nuts. If you've an incredibly edgy sense of humor? Bring on the uncomfortable jokes. If you've a crazy obsession with Star Wars, or something else realm-y? Why bury that? Go a little overboard with yourself. It's the best way to see if they can actually take you on a regular day.
- Don't eat until everyone has their food. It may seem silly, it may seem dumb. Their food will get there eventually, no? They seem to be pretty insistent on you starting ahead? No matter - embrace the well-mannered diet. Sure your soup may border on cold. Sure your salad may wilt. But hey, being the bigger person sometimes means being the sad, hungry person.
- Digital dining? There is no seat for your phone at the table. I don't care if all the cool kids are doing it. Texting and chewing? Grotesque. This generation may be feted for its ability to multitask, but really, how is Snapchatting and eating productive?
- Some may say that politics is a rude topic to engage at the dinner table, one to be avoided at all costs. But I plead European on this one and say, what's a dinner party sans a little ideological scuffle? So long as all participating parties realize that ne'er a mind nor opinion has ever truly been changed by dinner party discussion, and thus reaching any level of heatedness be wastefully indulgent, all's good. Argue away!
- Who started this silliness of placing a napkin on your lap the second you take your seat? As if there's something so biblically shameful about displaying one's lap in public? Free the lap! When you've no food in sight to ruin your ensemble, why are you rushing to protect yourself from yourself? Like you've never served yourself a meal before? Have a little confidence in yourself. (Note: this confidence should not extend to engaging in that theatric, matador-like flourish of your napkin when time comes to get down to business.)
Business / Networking Etiquette
- Thank you emails are always a must. Non-negotiably so. Thank you for the thank you emails? Unnecessary, but still generous of heart. Thank you for the thank you for the thank you emails? Fucking ridiculous. And you should be ashamed of yourself for creating such a circus.
- When it comes to signing off emails, know who you are. Personally, I'm a 'Cheers!' person. Can't tell you how and can't tell you why I can get away with that, but I can tell you it's the same instinct that tells me immediately when someone can't. There's nothing so sad as a misplaced closer - second only to a misplaced opener (we've all received that cringe email from a stranger starting oh so inappropriately with a "Hey!").
And there you have it; everything you need to know about etiquette in the 21st century and it didn't even cost you a dime.
[Photo via Breakfast at Tiffany's]