Etiquette is hard (not to mention hard to spell).
For one thing, there are too many rules.
As a fast food aficionado, I am most comfortable eating on the move and steering with my knees, with one hand on a paper cup and the other digging for fries at the bottom of the bag. When I sit at a finely adorned table in a nice restaurant, I feel somewhat displaced.
It is the curse of mankind that everyone knows just enough etiquette to recognize that he has forgotten how to apply it when the time comes. I think it would easier to never learn in the first place; then you never know what you’re doing wrong and would enjoy the meal a lot more.
Forks – work from the outside in. If you still have a couple on the table when the main course arrives, it is considered acceptable practice to toss the extras on the floor.
Drink glasses. The one on the left, or the one on the right? I have gone entire meals without drinking any water at all because no one would make the first move and claim one.
What if the waiter tries to grab your salad plate before you are done? This is not addressed in any etiquette books that I have read (which is none), but I would recommend taking one of the unused forks (see above) and using it to either poke the waiter’s hand or threaten him with it until he backs off.
Bread. I love bread. My philosophy at a fine restaurant is to eat as much as possible as quickly as possible in case some of the others at the table want some. With bread it is, “You snooze, you lose.”
The reason these and other rules have become an issue is because in a couple of weeks we will be hosting a training seminar on formal dining for the eleven veterans in the Wyakin Warrior program, and I will be expected to know what I am doing. They will be watching me, using me as an example of fine dining etiquette. That may not be the best way to teach table manners, but I figure they’ll be fine if they follow my lead.
As long as they stay away from the bread basket.