The Top 5 Ways to Pretend You Have Good Manners

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Most rules that govern manners are rather stupid and largely pointless, but like it or not, there will come a time in your life when you will be judged on your table manners. It could come during a first date, or during a state dinner thrown by the prime minister of Kyrgyzstan, but when the moment arises for you to select the right fork or wine glass, you had better know which damn utensil to grab or glass to slurp from (except don’t slurp!). Get it right and you’re golden, a class act all the way; screw it up and you might not only lose your chance for that smooch later on, you could ruin the diplomatic relationship between us and one of the world’s leading exporters of mercury.

5 Should I wait for all the food to arrive before eating my own plate of chili cheese fries?

Here’s one no one seems to know or ever get right, so play it by ear. As for the whole “Should I wait for all the food to arrive before eating my own plate of chili cheese fries?” question, here is the answer: If you are dining with a party of six people or fewer, wait until everyone has been served, you greedy monster. If you are in a group of more than six people, it is considered proper manners to begin eating once your food has arrived, and not wait on the jerk who ordered the soufflé.

4 Work from the “outside In” Vis-à-vis Your Silverware

When in doubt, work from the “outside in” vis-à-vis your silverware. That means start with the little fork all the way over to the left, then move to the bigger one, then usually to the smaller one. Even most “upscale” dinners will feature a maximum of three forks – for salad, dinner, and desert. If there are more forks for, say, fruit or lobster, then you are out gunned – run for it!

3 When You Finish a Bowl of Soup…

When you finish a bowl of soup, tilt the bowl away from you and scoop toward the far edge. Yes, it would make much more sense to do the exact opposite, tilting and scooping toward you, but that’s just not how it’s done in polite society. Because polite society is ridiculous. Note that this rule also holds true for stews, chowders, and fine chili.

2 Your Bread Goes on the Left, Your Drink on the Right

Don’t screw this one up, or you will look like an ass, plain and simple. If you must, use the little trick where you form a “b” with your left thumb and forefinger, and a “d” with your right for “bread” and “drink,” respectively. Do this little move under the table.

1 The Fork(S) Goes to the Left, Knife and Spoon Go on the Right Side

If you don’t know this first one, you better plan to make this article the starting point of a lot of etiquette study. When setting the table, the fork(s) goes to the left of the plate, while the knife and spoon (in that order, left to right) go on the right side. But seriously, you knew that … right? Put the fork on the napkin if it’s lying flat; put the napkin just above the plate if it is folded all fancy pants (that is the correct term, believe it or not).

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