Sunday, September 7, 2014

Another silly rant...

A few weeks ago, I ranted on my travel blog about Stuttgart Friends, which is a Facebook group dedicated to people in the Stuttgart area who are somehow affiliated with the US government.  I'm pretty sure there are some Germans and other European folks on that site, too.  While Stuttgart Friends and its many spinoff groups are generally very helpful, I notice that some folks get a bit uppity sometimes.  

For instance, today someone posted a very interesting article about dining in Germany.  Given that a lot of Americans are not familiar with dining in Europe, it was good reading.  Many of us need to learn more about the local customs here.  Some people were commenting about things they had or had not experienced while dining in German restaurants.

One person brought up how if you place your fork a certain way on your plate, it's a signal to the server that you're finished eating.  I usually put my knife and fork at about 3 or 4 o'clock on the plate and, sure enough, the server takes my plate.  Another person in the group dubbed this practice as "fork language".

Well, I noticed that another person wrote a lengthy post about European table etiquette and how Americans are "backward" because, in general, we don't eat the way Europeans do, with our knives in the right hand.  Her initial post was somewhat interesting, though it bordered just slightly on snob territory.  A couple more people, myself included, posted about so-called "fork language" and used that impromptu expression.  I thought it was kind of a clever term, even if it's not necessarily official. It sounds almost sexy, though the possibilities of what one might do while communicating with fork language are endless and potentially horrifying.

Our resident European etiquette expert came back and wrote how she was taught proper table etiquette, not "fork language".  She added a winky smiley, possibly to soften the blow of her holier than thou-ness.  How awesome indeed!

Naturally, her comment annoyed me, because I'm not usually impressed by people who presume to school other adults in such a condescending manner.  Moreover, if she were really an expert in etiquette, she'd know that it's rude to try to chastise and correct people in that way.  I mean, isn't etiquette ultimately all about being graceful and making other people comfortable?  And before anyone brings this up, I do not claim to be an etiquette expert.  In fact, I delight in making certain people uncomfortable.  But really, I've always thought being polite and showing proper etiquette was about being charming, civil, gracious, and kind, not making other people feel like boorish neanderthals because they don't know how to position their forks when they want their plate cleared at a restaurant or they decide to refer to table etiquette as "fork language".  I mean, jeez!

So, being the smartass I am, I wrote, "Pin a rose on your nose..."  ;)  (special thanks to Stephanie Tanner of Full House for that stale one liner...)    

I mean, big fucking deal...  So the proper term is "table etiquette"; that doesn't mean the terminology can't evolve and people can't come up with new or creative ways to express themselves.  That person needs to get over herself.


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