You stuck him with the wrong knife, fool!

January 11, 2011

I’m a huge fan of our etiquette columns, which offer useful advice for folks who were raised by Neanderthals, frozen in a glacier for 50,000 years and then wake up to find themselves working in a Manhattan law firm. There must be more of those than you think.


One etiquette column went over basic table manners for business meals, clearing up such fine points as whether to gesture with your cutlery, clank your utensils loudly against your teeth or slurp your spaghetti. I’m serious.

Amazingly, there’s even more to learn, and it is all spelled out for you in our latest business dining etiquette piece.

etiquette locust 240For example, it turns out you shouldn’t pile stuff like hats and gloves on the dining table.

“If items must be in reach, tuck them in a pocket or neatly beneath or behind your chair,” we suggest.

I don’t know why hats and gloves might ever need to be within reach during a meal, unless you’re such an obvious loser that they seat you beside the alley door and you get a whoosh of arctic air every time they take out more garbage.

And here’s something I sure didn’t know. “How you butter your bread is one of the biggest indicators of good vs. bad table manners.” We tell readers to butter one bite-sized piece of bread or roll at a time.

That’s right, one bite at a time. Really? Because if I saw somebody do that, I would think he was too lazy or stupid to butter a roll all at once and be done with it.

etiquette joey 240What works for me is, I spot the best rolls in the basket and quickly butter them and take a bite of each, to mark them as mine. But I guess that’s just me.

Something else new: “Always sit up straight and bring food to your mouth rather than your mouth to the food.”

So to be clear, your lips should never actually touch your plate, especially if it’s come right from the broiler with your sizzling t-bone on it. Our piece doesn’t specifically address eating soup, but I gather if your nose and mouth are BOTH submerged in chowder, you’ve gone too far down.

Our newest column even covers which knife to use for what, like stabbing some jerk if he touches your bread plate, and where to wipe the blood.

Hint: Don’t wipe it on your hat, which shouldn’t be on the table anyway!

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Top: Greece’s Prime Minister George Papandreou (R) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan meet over breakfast in the eastern Turkish city of Erzurum January 7, 2011. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Left: Wingbowl participant Rich “The Locust” Lefevre eats wings during the 14th annual Wingbowl event in Philadelphia, February 3, 2006. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Right: Reigning Wing Bowl champion Joey Chestnut eats chicken wings during the 16th annual Wing Bowl event in Philadelphia, February 1, 2008. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

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[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by robert basler. robert basler said: You stuck him with the wrong knife, fool! 11/01/11/you-stuck-him-with-the-wrong-kn ife-fool/ #manners […]

Posted by Tweets that mention You stuck him with the wrong knife, fool! | Analysis & Opinion | — | Report as abusive

This is a true story. My wife was engaged to another man at our college before I met her. He was a prissy rich boy who had everything given to him by his parents. And he gave Mrs. Doc a diamond as big as his head. When the future Mrs. Doc met his parents, the fiance’s mother criticized (the future) Mrs. Doc for not buttering her bread a bite at a time, among other things, I’m sure. That took the bisquit, as far as Mrs. Doc was concerned.

And then I came along: a farmboy with a full academic scholarship and the GI Bill and a college-workstudy job, a jock who studied, a 4.00er who really worked for his grades, a former enlisted airborne MP. In fine, I was pretty rough around the edges. A rhinestone in the rough. And Mrs. Doc liked me that way. When we married, we were dirt poor. And we didn’t care.
(Mrs. Doc still likes me rough around the edges, although she frowns upon picking fights and eating over the sink.)

Wherever you are, Former-Fiance’s-Mom, Thank you.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

“clank your utensils loudly against your teeth”… woah… that must be some really deranged person… sounds painful…

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

I’m hungry…

Posted by fwd079 | Report as abusive

It might be bad form to hold your Blackberry on your lap and try to sneak a Facebook update.

“OMG business dinners are TOTZ boring! I almst used my dinner knife to butter my bread oops! LOL NE1 want to hit up taco bell l8tr?”

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

Lamar should start writing an etiquette column. I will read it as I stuff an entire buttered roll into my mouth. It’s one bite!

Posted by sarabelle | Report as abusive

You’re poutine me on, Spin! What are you supposed to hold the fork with?

Posted by AllThatJazz | Report as abusive

Spin, he was one of those college frat boys whose name ends in “, III.” I didn’t join a frat, which — I’m sure — was another point in my favor. After being in the military, I wasn’t going to be ordered around by some college kid younger than I was.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

I was going to wish you a happy birthday, Shra, but then I remembered Facebook would be a more appropriate place to do that…

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

Dear Miss Manners:

Is it better to lick the mouth of the Catsup bottle before one uses it or after one is finished?

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

Doc: Licking the mouth of the catsup bottle before it is used will assure you of sole use of said bottle during your meal.

Posted by Onedoor | Report as abusive

@Spin: they recently asked me where I slept as a child… Under a rock or in cardboard box or something? It led to a pretty funny conversation.

Posted by Onedoor | Report as abusive

@Unca, what if you only dip a bite size piece of bread into the gravy boat? Would that be ok?

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive


I believe there is a misunderstanding here somewhere: eating poutine cannot, under any circumstance, be considered to be polite by any extent of the imagination. Oh, and by the way, that applies also for vegemite, in case you were wondering.

Posted by justM | Report as abusive

oh,so dipping your bite size piece of bread into the gravy boat is wrong? Ooooops!

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

I just had a childhood memory flash into my mind. My dad’s parents are English, and his mother in particular is a lady of a very proper manner. She never criticises or derides anyone for the way they behave, speak or think, she just prefers to operate to her own standard.
Anyway, we were at a typically noisy gathering of my mother’s family, and the main items for dinner were large homemade hamburgers, with a side-order of french fries and onion rings. I had never before, or since, seen someone eat such a meal using a knife and fork, and certainly not as efficiently or effectively as she did.

Posted by Nosmo_King | Report as abusive

Right, or if she’s overweight, perhaps a nom de plump…

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

You know, when I first came here, I was actually worried if my table etiquettes were ok… and yes, Nosmo, I have attempted to eat a burger using a fork and knife… it was very messy….

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

Burgers with all the trimmings can be very messy. I often will cut the sandwich in half and then eat it normally. It’s then much easier to eat it with one hand while the other hand is clenched around a fist of french fries.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

Aye Missy… the Scots are prooood of theeyer qzeen here…

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

No, I would have noticed him around the office. But I do like to think I see his inspiration in everything I write….

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

I was once on a business trip to Denmark to look at potato sorting robots, and all the people I met there ate sandwiches with a knife and fork.

Posted by CrowGirl | Report as abusive

@CrowGirl, really? Wow and I thought people who ate pizza with a knife and fork were weird!

Posted by iflydaplanes | Report as abusive

Denmark is the place to go for potato sorting robots?

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

You say either and I say either, You say neither and I say neither
Either, either Neither, neither, Let’s call the whole thing off.

You like potato and I like potahto, You like tomato and I like tomahto
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto, Let’s call the whole thing off

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

Or, as I would like to say to some of my relatives:

You say “worsh” and I say “wash.” You say “feesh” and I say “fish.” You’re wrong, you hillbilly redneck.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

Yes… you absolutely HAVE to eat in full body armour…

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

We may be related, Doc…

Posted by rcbasler | Report as abusive

Oh, silly me, I forgot to mention… you can keep the visor open…

Posted by Shra | Report as abusive

“we may be related”: Do you also have relatives whose “English” you cannot understand, Bob?

As for eating with a knife and fork, I often eat lunch with prosecuting attorneys. Such omnivores eat only with their hands.

Posted by DoctorDoll | Report as abusive

When I say “robot” – it wasn’t as cool as that may make it sound… But they did put me up in the prettiest hotel it’s ever been my pleasure to stay in.

Posted by CrowGirl | Report as abusive