The MAtH (man about the house) and I have been away from Dianne Isbell's Monday Etiquette column in the Belleville News-Democrat for a couple of weeks. Things have been busy here! But today. We're back.
Me: Remember Dianne?
Me: Come on, you love Dianne.
MAtH: The first Monday without having to rush out early and I get Dianne.
Me: We've neglected her.
Me: "We've been invited to a graduation for a former neighbor's son. They are also having a party or barbecue the following weekend. I am making something for the graduation to go along with a check we are giving him. Since we might not be able to catch him in the crowd of graduates, would it be OK to just give him the card, check and gift at the barbecue? Or, should we mail the card with the check now? We definitely don't want him to think we're not going to give him anything. He is such a nice boy."
Me: Come on.
MAtH: Ok. Here's my advice. Common sense. Everyone knows it's impossible to find one particular graduate after the ceremony. The crowd is too dense, all the kids are dressed in the same gown. Just bring both gifts to the party. Chances are he'd lose a card before the night is over anyway.
Me: Whew. Almost as long as the question.
MAth: What did Dianne say?
Me: "Any of the options you outlined is appropriate."
MAtH: True, but I still say, wait until the party. What's next?
Me: This is a good one.
MAtH: Are you going to read it or just give your opinion?
Me: "Recently, I had lunch in a wonderful little French cafe. 1. French bread was served in a little basket with a napkin inside. Butter packets were also inside the basket. We each had a little bread and butter plate. There was no tablecloth, just paper placemats. The French bread roll, when torn apart to butter, created a zillion crumbs which could not be contained to the little bread and butter plate. We each had crumbs all over the table. These crumbs seemed to be overly noticeable because there was no tablecloth. The waitress did not take away the crumbs when she removed the soup bowls and salad plate. We discussed whether we should crumb the table ourselves with our hands. Should we in a case like this?"
MAtH: Wait. That is question 1? Don't tell me there's another question in there too?
MAtH: Too many words. There are so many details, I can visualize it. This woman should be a painter.
Me: That's what women do, isn't it? We set the table for the actual point of the story.
MAtH: Hahaha. Good one.
MAtH: So, in a nutshell, the issue is there are breadcrumbs all over the table, what should we do?
Me: Correct. They all sat around wondering if they should brush the crumbs off.
MAtH: I'd say, if it bothered them that much, just do it. Brush them with one hand into the other. Bingo. Done.
Me: That's not what Dianne said.
MAtH: I'm not surprised.
Me: "It is not proper etiquette for you to crumb your own table with your hands or with your knife as I have seen some diners do."
MAtH: Hold on. She's seen someone scrape off crumbs with a knife?
Me: I hope it wasn't at one of her dinner parties.
MAtH: She wouldn't serve anything that crumbled.
Me: Here's the second part of this question: "2. We also had a lot of little empty butter packs or cups that didn't fit on the bread and butter plate or on the soup bowl tiny service plate or in the salad bowl. One of us put the empty packets into the bread basket just before the waitress removed it to show us the dessert tray. Was that proper etiquette?"
MAtH: I'm trying hard to find the question in that.
Me: What to do with the empty butter packets.
MAtH: Ah. I see. The real problem is they had a lot of empty butter packets. These women really went after that bread, didn't they? The crumb thing makes sense now.
Me: Haha. You're right. They sure did.
MAtH: And Dianne said?
Me: "Empty butter packs or containers are not placed in the bread basket. They are to be removed from the table by the waitress at the time the soup, salad or entree dishes are removed."
MAtH: Problem is, Dianne didn't say just where the mountain of butter packs should be put during the rest of the meal. Hahahahah. I can just see each woman's place covered with these little butter packs. The table probably looked like the aftermath of a crawfish boil.
Me: Now you're painting a picture.
MAtH: And a good one too if I do say so myself.
Me: Well, I regret to say, it's time to get moving on the day.
MAtH: We should not defer or neglect it.
Me: You're good.
MAtH: Thanks to all my teachers who made me memorize.