I’m not high society enough to be able to remember the precise details of the below-mentioned letter to an advice column. I did have many table manners grilled into me as a kid, and developed some neuroses over them (it can tweak me out to hear noisy eating, long story, it’s definitely a personal neurosis), but this wasn’t one of them.
Several years ago Bruce stumbled across a rather amusing letter to an advice column. It began with “It happened again” and detailed the sad plight of the author who needed to demand a new table yet again because some horrifically foul cretin in the area was misbehaved enough to let their left hand just sit there at the table in the restaurant. They hadn’t gone so far as to put an elbow on the table, or masturbate while keeping that left hand in their lap, they simply weren’t politely using the left hand for delicately cutting food with a knife.
Or something like that. As noted, the technical utensil details have either escaped my brain or are quite well hidden by now. Discarded in favour of laughing at the greater picture.
At some later point in time, we told our daughter the story (it had already become our chronic joke to say “it happened again” about any eating indecency we committed) while at a restaurant in Silverton. We were on a road trip (camped at both Black Canyon and Mesa Verde) and we were hungry. I licked my plate. Yep, in a restaurant.
From that moment onward, “It happened again” was oft attached to plate-licking. Most recently, my daughter was walking from her room to the kitchen – grandly licking her plate on the trek toward depositing it in the sink. I laughed, sighed, and noted aloud “It happened again”. We all still laugh. It’s not so much that we’re that easily amused, as that the phrase contains many years of silly memories for the 3 of us.
But maybe after so many years it’s time to take it to yet another level, right? If only we could afford to go lick our plates in an expensive classy restaurant where you’re surrounded by the types of people who would have fits, move to new tables, and express their horror to advice columnists, over someone improperly wielding their utensils.
I put elbows on tables. I lick plates often at home... not as often elsewhere, because you never know where other peoples’ plates have been. You may have guessed from my daughter coming out of her room with her tongue attached to a plate that we also just kind of eat wherever we want. You can believe me when I say my limited range of table manner neuroses truly are just neuroses. But I’ll go a step further and say:
Plate-licking is good, waste is bad. Four legs good, two legs bad!
Since I unfortunately can’t afford to go lick plates at classy restaurants (should I make a donations link?), it got me to thinking about advice columns. The CPAOD web columns section has been needing a major fixing since the late 90s, especially in the sense of having, like, anything in it. The sorry, early 2000s abandonment, state of the CPAOD site has been on my mind often, as I slowly work on the CPAOD Sampler. Setting aside obvious emergency endeavors (like that I can gratuitously mention CPAOD, DE, etc here for a while and then include this little web column of mine over there as well)...
Yes, we could have CPAOD advice columns!
I nominated Bruce for "Ask an old fanboy, who is currently having a mid-life crisis". And I nominated myself for "Ask a stoned old ditz who took too much acid when she was young, but boy did she read a lot, listen to music a lot, watch a lot of foreign classics, and do a lot of other things that she can only remember particles of after so many years in a drug haze... oh, and by the way she's often an unreliable imp". (I always did like long titles.) Biermeister nominated himself for "Getting blasted on the cheap in Europe".
I’m still waiting to see who else wants to join in. We’ve got enough good people to straighten everyone out into masses of twisty little knots!
I think there should be a Mr. Tibble advice column as well. I’ve been wanting to do that since I started playing with the idea of CPAOD Chibi... so long ago. And at least in that case there’ll be no doubt that he hates everyone who is asking him questions.
My personal first advice: Go ahead, lick your plates! Not only is it less wasteful of food, it’s less wasteful of many resources (ranging from water to someone’s time) if globs of food aren’t drying on dishes until they get scrubbed. Politeness shouldn’t trump resourcefulness in these matters! But, you know, maybe you could try not to do it too noisily.
PS: Bruce just found an url for the original “It happened again” letter (entry #2): Ask Amy, June 2009.
Back to the Thoughts Index.