Tag Archives: Manners

The Cougher – Or – How to Annoy & Infect Other Diners

It’s turned into an annual thing for me and my friends Annie and Martina to go to a 5-star restaurant for Restaurant Week. We look forward to this. Seldom would we choose to eat at a 5-star restaurant when we go out for our girlie meals unless it’s a special occasion. This year it was no different.

We chose the place we’d wanted to go last year but couldn’t get reservations. None of us had ever eaten there and we were quite excited as we prepared for the night out. This is an elegant and well-established place in San Diego. As such, it calls for proper attire. It also calls for a certain level of decorum. Now, I haven’t ranted on here for awhile but clearly some things need to be spelled out to the general public.

For instance, whether you go on their website or not, most people know dinner at a 5-star calls for proper attire. Proper attire means proper attire. One assumes the basic principles of dressing are understood. You wouldn’t, say, dress for dinner in something you’d wear to a ballgame, right? I wore a velvet skirt with a few sequins here and there, and I carried The Prada, which seldom makes an appearance because I’m afraid something will spill on it. This was quite an event, after all.

In addition, once in the establishment, rules of decorum at the table should also be followed. Presumably people surrounding you at a 5-star restaurant weren’t raised with cattle inside of a barn. They know how to behave, yes?


We were quietly enjoying our meal (and the sensational views) when the table to the west of us was seated. I took immediate notice because they hadn’t dressed for dinner. They dressed for, say, a Padres game or a backyard barbecue. This annoyed me because this restaurant was the special occasion place my mom used to come on dates (for dinner and dancing!) in the ’70s. I’m old-fashioned. It grated on me to see them in their blue jeans and tennis shoes in a place with such a fine pedigree.

As the meal wore on, I tried to not pay much attention to them. Annie, however, was given no choice. Remember when I assumed they weren’t raised in a barn? Well, never assume… The woman at the table was seated with two men. Her back was to Annie’s right elbow. Yet for some reason she would whip around and hack and sputter on my dear friend every few minutes. Apparently she had a cough…

The Cougher found nothing amiss with her behavior. In fact, towards the end of our meal The Cougher’s hacks were becoming more frequent. Annie and Martina had discussed it across the table and I am certain The Cougher or her companions heard their dissatisfaction with her conduct. At one point, as I was already gaping, The Cougher whipped around, hacked into the side of Annie’s face and then grinned over at me, admiring her handiwork. Then she ogled our now tainted desserts.

The three of us began hissing like cats in a bag. The Cougher seemed to find this even more fascinating because she kicked up her coughs a notch. The Hillbilly directly in front of me could sense our irritation but did nothing to dissuade this creature from continuing to turn her head on our party to hack.

Had we not been settling the bill right then, I think one of us would have said something to our delightful server. I’m horrified to think that The Cougher couldn’t figure it out on her own – or she figured it out and decided to be a bitch. Either way, in polite society, one covers their mouth when coughing – regardless of the location. We could have been at a ballgame and I’d still be ranting. Cover your damn mouth!

My mom (hardcore German) would have been appalled. She’d likely have leaned over and said, “Oh, so you have a cough? I see you’ve a napkin on your lap. Why not make use of that, tilt your head down and cough into it?” That would have been the ladylike thing to do. It is what most people afflicted with a chest cold would do. Instead this tart found nothing wrong with craning about and coughing like a demented barn owl hacking up rat bones.

We didn’t let it spoil our mood. We rose above her tacky behavior and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening. So far none of us have gotten sick.

Point being, dear readers, when you’re out, please attempt to be polite to those around you. It’s what separates us from the monkeys at the zoo who throw their own feces…

Tips to Keep YOU from looking like a Clueless Jackass

Now that we’re in the New Year and have suffered through another holiday season of visitors or visiting, I thought I’d post some handy tips for those of you raised in a barn.

When visiting someone’s home…

1.     Come bearing a gift. This, people, is called a HOSTESS GIFT. This does not mean you come bearing Hostess baked goods. I don’t mean Twinkies, Ho Hos, or Ding Dongs. I mean flowers, a bottle of wine, sea salt caramels, a book, whatever. A thoughtful gift for your host.

2.     With children – keep a tight rein on your brat, I mean child. Some people own breakables. Breakables which are precious to them and they put on high shelves on their armoire only to have some brat come along and smack them to the floor, thus breaking the head off the purple ceramic bunny their child made for them five years earlier. (*true story*) “Oh, no, don’t worry about it…” they’ll say with tears in their eyes. YES, worry about it. Contain your brats. Leash them if you must. Leashes can be found at the front door and can be purchased for $5. Please speak to your hostess once you’ve stowed your luggage.

3.     Offer assistance with preparations. This shows that you’re interested in the trouble they’re going through to feed you. If they decline, don’t argue. Just go have a seat like they asked. They’re being gracious, your job is to be grateful.

4.     Join in conversation, don’t dominate it. No one likes a monopolizer.

5.     Don’t bring up topics that are contentious. This could be politics, religion, or especially something your hosts are in disagreement about. If you bring up a topic with the intention of stirring the pot, you are a pot stirrer. People don’t like pot stirrers. They spit in your tea when you act like a jerkface.

6.    Take your dishes to the sink after meals. Rinse them and put them in the dishwasher. If this bothers your hostess or you get tutted away and told to sit, once again, do so.

7.     Clean up after yourselves. This is especially true when spending the night. Make your beds, tidy the bedroom and bathroom. If it’s your final day, remove sheets from the bed and towels from bathroom. Put in hamper or on washer. Ask for fresh linens to put out. I always use whatever cleaning products they have visible in bathroom and clean my way out. I like to leave the place as sparkling as it was when I first entered.

8.     Compliment your host on their food, home, taste, whatever. This shows you didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.

9.     When you’re staying multiple days, take the host out to a meal. PAY FOR SAID MEAL. This is another sign that you’re grateful for their hospitality.

10.    …I can’t say this enough…It bears repeating: CONTAIN YOUR CHILD. Don’t, for instance, let the child wander off to the bathroom and disappear for long periods of time without your watchful eye. When this happens, the hostess may pass by the bathroom a short while later only to find he’s used her good hand towel in place of toilet paper and wiped himself on it. (*true story*) Fecal matter is pretty much a deal breaker. Pack up and leave.

*** My original post yesterday failed to include the following 2 tips. You’re welcome. ***

11.    Keep to your host’s schedule. If they’re early risers, try not to sleep in until noon. If they go to bed early, don’t stay up all hours of the night blasting television or rap music.

12.    Once home, always, ALWAYS send a thank you note for them having hosted you.