Growing up my parents taught me to use my manners and they taught me well (I thought) No elbows on the table while eating, don't speak with your mouth full, don't excuse yourself from the table until everyone is finished eating, don't start to eat until everyone is served, etc, etc. What they failed to teach my brother and I was that when a female excuses herself from the table for whatever reason, the men at the table are supposed to stand up and when she returns they are again supposed to stand up and wait for her to seat herself. My first 'nice' dinner date with my then husband to be resulted in me looking like a fool and my mom exclaiming after I told her what happened, "He's going to think you were dragged up not brought up". We had finished dinner and before dessert arrived I wanted to go freshen up, when I came back Marc rose from his chair (he was raised well apparently) I promptly grabbed my jacket, confused he asked "You want to leave ?" confused I replied "No" he then asked why I was grabbing my jacket, I told him because I thought he'd got up to leave, he told me "No, I was being polite ." OOPS !!
Now fast forward 22 years. This past Saturday we were invited to a dinner party hosted by Marc's boss and his wife, they are older ( my parents age), they come from the deep South, they come from old money, they lived 'The Help' their families were the ones doing the hiring, they are very 'proper', now when you mix that with a girl raised in a blue collar working family from England some embarrassment (on my part) may occur and it did.
First off we were all in the living room having cocktails, the hostess was in the kitchen finishing up dinner prep and then a little while later announced for everyone to go on into the Dining Room and find our places... dammit Marc was on the other side of the table and way down the other end. Everyone stood behind their chair waiting for our hostess to come in and seat herself.. now apparently Marc was raised to a little higher standards than they were, he was standing by the side of me waiting to pull out my chair for me, the hostess was concerned he didn't know where to sit, when he told her why he was stood there she said "Why, weren't you brought up nicely ?" Score for Marc but her husband(Marc's boss) looked a little taken aback, afterall he was waiting patiently to seat himself at his own chair. Then our hostess informed us it was buffet style and we needed to go help ourselves... I HATE that, I swear everybody always stands back and waits for me to lead the way I HATE it, so this time I waited and waited and indicated for some others to go ahead of me.. PHEW !! after the 4 people in front of me served themselves it was my turn, I helped myself and then made my way back to my seat and wouldn't you know it, nobody else was at the table... WTH ?? I have no clue where they took off, so guess what I did ? Sat down, yes people I put my tush on that freaking chair and then guess what happened ? Everybody converged back into the dining room and found their places (again) and guess what ? Not one of them sat down.... here we go again, waiting for the hostess with the mostest to finish whatever the heck she was doing in the kitchen, so discreetly (though I'm sure by now everyone had noticed the girl in grey sat down) I pushed back my chair and stood behind it and guess who was standing right there ? Marc's boss, oh kill me now. He just gave me that fatherly sympathetic nod and went on to serve himself, our hostess came back in told the ladies we could now be seated and enjoy our food, and we did. The food was good, the conversation was better, and a nice evening was had by all but every now and again I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach wondering what (if) anything was said about how I'd sat down before others and especially our hostess were at the table. I think I'm going to have to borrow an etiquette book before the next dinner party, I don't know that I'll ever recover from this last one
*Hangs head in shame*
Now off to write a card thanking them for the wonderful food and hospitality. I wonder how many others will think to do that ;)