It is a sign of a good upbringing when one has proper manners at the table.
At least, that’s what some people believe.
Still, what happens when your table manners have the opposite effect?
Redditor and Original Poster (OP) Important-Ad-2890 found themselves in just such a situation recently and was baffled on how to respond. They brought the matter to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for a ruling.
“AITA For Not Changing My Table Manners”
First, they set the table:
“My friends are pretty split on this and I need an outside opinion.”
Then, offered the main course:
“One of my roommates, Wendy invited myself and a few other friends out to eat last week, she also invited Dylan, a friend from one of her classes.”
“There were five of us in total and I sat across from Dylan, we hadn’t met before and got along well until the food arrived.”
Always positive meeting new friends.
“For context, I attended manners classes taught by a strict British woman in middle school.”
“As such, I use utensils the ‘proper English way’ one finger on the back of the fork, no switching hands, the works. It’s habit at this point and no one really notices.”
Proper manners are important?
“After I started eating Dylan did a 180, he was standoffish and clipped for the rest of the night. It was weird but no big deal, not everyone gets along and I probably wasn’t going to see him very often.”
Or perhaps manners aren’t so great.
“However, Wendy asked me this morning to ‘eat normally’ tomorrow night because she was having Dylan over for our weekly dinner.”
“I was confused and she told me that Dylan was offended by how I used utensils because I ‘thought I was better than everyone’.”
Fork-finger placement is crucial to setting the tone.
“I’m stubborn so I told Wendy that I would not be changing how I eat and that Dylan was ridiculous for thinking that.”
We’re sure that went well.
“She called me an a** and stormed out for work.”
“I brought the situation up to some friends and a few said I should just do it, Wendy obviously likes Dylan and Wendy is my friend but it honestly pisses me off that Dylan assumed negatively about me because of how I eat.”
So OP was left with the question:
“AITA for refusing to change how I eat?”
But they did have the manners to offer a bit more detail on this meal.
“EDIT: Wendy may have mentioned that I’ve taken etiquette classes to Dylan before I met him.”
“I’ve known Wendy since middle school and we’ve had a running joke since then about me being afraid of my etiquette teacher seeing me eat in public and anytime we go somewhere on the nicer scale she will bring up the more ridiculous things I learned through etiquette classes.”
“Neither of us brought it up that night but that’s the only reason I can think that Dylan would have been paying attention to how I eat.”
With their friends indecisive, OP came to Reddit for a ruling.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided the OP was NTA.
Some were shocked at how offended Dylan was.
“NTA, I thought you were going to say you chew loud or slurp your soup. You have manners?! Heaven forfend!”~delilah250
It is odd.
“NTA. That is hysterical!! Who even notices that!?” ~BBMcBeadle
“NTA. Why doesn’t Wendy think Dylan is an ass for such a ridiculous demand, regardless of whether or not she likes him? Shows that Dylan has had a very insular view of life.”~wind-river7
Perhaps Dylan has some stuff to work through.“When I was stationed in Germany I taught myself to eat this way so I wouldn’t immediately stick out as an American. Decades later it’s still my manner of eating.”
“Dylan is an AH and if this is his dividing line he has serious reverse snobbery.”~cappotto-marrone
“Also, gotta love the “eat normally” (which is code for “eat the way I eat because I am the standard for normalcy,”) coming from someone complaining that OP, “thinks they’re better than everyone.”
“Really sir? You believe yourself to be the global standard for “normal” but OP is the one who thinks they’re better than everyone? Mmmmmkay.”~Kathrynlena
Apparently, table manners are regional.
“Typically Americans just use a fork alone.”
“When they use a knife they cut food and sort of sweep it onto the fork (with tines upwards so creating a bowl area) with the knife.”
“I noticed this because where I work we have a dining area and I’m often just given a fork alone which annoys me because I find it awkward to eat with only a fork.”~ClassicEvent6
“It’s Australian style too! Fork in left hand, knife in right. No switching. People often ask me if I switch because I’m left handed but that’s just weird. Left hand does most of the work IMO so I leave it as is.”~synaesthezia
There was one commenter who thought that a gauntlet had been thrown.
“I think OP should do exactly this.”
“Chuck the utensils in the bin and eat off their plate withs hands behind their back like some sort of pie eating contest.”
“Overly dramatic coming up for air moments, complete with licking as much of the face with the tongue as can be reached, before diving back in.”
“Wildly inappropriate leering and winking and blowing kisses across the table would top off the whole meal.”~necrowuv
“It isn’t super-clear from OP’s post where they live, but technically, in the pure Miss Manners, Emily Post style of etiquette, it isn’t actually good manners to use utensils ‘English-style’ in a lot of places that aren’t England.”
“Sucks because it’s neat and efficient, but them’s the breaks.”
“Dylan isn’t making a manners argument.”
“He’s making a snap judgment and a reverse-snobbery argument about OP ‘thinking [they’re] better than everyone’, which is total bullsh*t and usually the calling card of a truly world-class a**hole. NTA.”~scarywheel
OP definitely got a resounding answer on this one.
Perhaps, if one person’s “good behavior” is another’s “insult”, should we perhaps take a little extra time to consider the intent behind our actions?
Might just be good manners.