Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Mannerly Encounter

Last night my husband and I had dinner at a rather upscale restaurant. We had an early reservation so there were only a few other diners seated when we arrived. As we watched other parties being seated near us, we were both saddened at the number of young (and some not-to-young!) men who walked to their tables ahead of a female companion and plopped themselves in their seats without waiting for the lady to be seated first. But then a family arrived who gave us faith in the mannerliness of the next generation.

It was a mom and a dad accompanied by two boys, probably about 3rd and 5th grade. Both boys were wearing dark dress pants, immaculate, crisp, white dress shirts, neatly tied long, dark neckties, and dress shoes. As the host led them to their table, both boys politely stepped aside to let their mom go first, and then marched after her, the younger first, proudly carrying a large, cellophane-wrapped box of chocolates, and the older following, carefully carrying a large bouquet of red roses, with dad in the rear. I couldn't see their table, but I have no doubt that they waited to be seated until mom was seated. In a quiet room where young treble voices would have easily carried over the hum of low adult voices, I heard hardly a peep from either of the boys throughout dinner.

As we were leaving, I peeked over at their table and was not surprised to see both boys sitting with perfect posture, their napkins in their laps, and not a hint of chewing with their mouths open or talking with food in their mouths. I almost stopped to tell the parents how charming and well-behaved their boys were, but I didn't want to interrupt the Norman Rockwell moment.

It does give me hope that there will be at least a small contingent of the next generation with an understanding of good manners and proper etiquette. And it gives me hope that my own son’s immaculate manners (and they WILL be immaculate) will not be unique among his generation.

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