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Old 08-29-2005, 11:22 AM   #31
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Claire, recently my family went on vacation to Florida and we decided to have dinner at the Italian restaurant in Epcot. I would not say that the place was "fine dining" but it was more upscale than some of the other establishments. It was loud (Italian, and DisneyWorld!) but not horrible. As the diners at the table next to us left, I felt a hand on my shoulder and the older gentleman who was leaving stopped to tell me that he was very impressed with the manners of my children. He had not even realized there were kids at our table until he got up to leave. I thanked him, as did my girls. That was quite a compliment. One I won't soon forget, and neither will they.

My point is simple. We were in our shorts, as were most other diners, but we were respectful of those around us. Truly, I believe that is the most important part of dining out. It doesn't matter whether we eat at Pizza Hut or at Il Portico, my children know how to behave in a restaurant. I think you need to take your kids to a wonderful restaurant once in a while (when funds permit!) to teach them how to behave correctly. Mine love to dress up and to be treated like royalty at the finer establishments. And really...isn't that why we all go? To enjoy the finer things?
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Old 08-29-2005, 11:51 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldcoot
It is my contention, however, that such enjoyment is greatly enhanced by the beauty inherent in the more traditinal and somewhat formal dining experience.
oldcoot, I respect what you are saying and I agree with some points you are making. On the above statement though, I would have to say that while that is true for you it may not be true for everyone. There are some people who have been brought up with impeccable manners and taught "all the right things", but these same people might feel very uncomfortable in a formal dining experience. Their enjoyment is hardly enhanced by these types of settings.

I am somewhere in between the majority here and Background Noise. I was raised with manners. I knew which fork to use at which time from as early as I can remember. Anytime my parents took my brother and me to a restaurant people would always tell my parents how well behaved we were as would the waiters and waitresses. It got to the point where I just assumed that is what they told all parents with kids. I never talked with my mouth full, never spoke with a loud voice, never interrupted people etc.

If I were to choose a place to eat today based solely on enjoyment I would not pick a place that required me to wear a jacket. Like Background Noise, I feel that it is the company you keep and more of a state of mind that defines fine dining, at least for me. I know how to act in a "classy" place, but I do not enjoy the stuffy atmosphere. I would much rather wear my jeans and eat some great food while enjoying my friends and family around me. I do not need linen table cloths to do that.

I do enjoy the finer restaurants, but not because the person next to me is wearing a suit and placing his napkin on his lap. I enjoy then for the food and for the service. Yes I like eating off nice dishes and drinking from crystal, but I can have a fine dining experience without those things.
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Old 08-29-2005, 12:00 PM   #33
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There are some rules that I believe are not subject to relevance, change, or interpretation. The major one is the "Golden Rule". That is, or should be, the basis for all societies.

Keeping to the sbject of dining (for it is all too tempting to digress to other aspects of the subject), the "rules" evolved from that, and from traditional interpretations of it. Emily Post and others simply recorded and publicized them. Oh, I have no doubt they also put their own twist on some, too.

If a person knowingly is for any reason unpresentable or offensive to others, it would seem appropriate to avoid expoosing him/herself to those who will be offended.

Those who have contempt for all the accoutrements of what we here refer to as "fine dining" can obtain adequate nourishment and camaraerie at establishments that cater to what Background refers to as the LCD. If those same persons have an iresistable desire to frequent the "better class" dining establishment, it would seem not unreasonable to ask that they, for that occasion, comb their hair and wear a clean, pressed shirt - etc.

[Personally, I wonder if this devotion to non-traditional, somewhat anti-social behavior is little more than a rather juvenile revolt against "the establishment" - whatever that is. I guess the effort is successful, for, in a decent restaurant, I certainly find it "revolting"!]


what is truly sad is the number of people who simply don't have a clue that their behavior and/or personal appearance is offensive. Even the fast food joints and greasy spoons have had to post rules for those who go just too far, even for them: "No shirt, no shoes, no service". So you see, Background, ultimately all have their limits, liberal 'tho they may be.
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Old 08-29-2005, 12:15 PM   #34
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The thing is that what one person finds offensive someone else might not.

I think, like background said, it is up to the restaurant to decide what is acceptable and what is not. If a restaurant lets someone in with a wrinkled shirt and baseball cap then that is the standard they have set for their establishment. If it is something you are uncomfortable with then you can choose to not eat there or you can choose to eat there and ignore the person whose appearance you find offensive.

The Golden Rule is a great one and should be practiced in all walks of life. We need to remember that how you want want to be treaded can differ from how someone else might want to be treated.

I completely agree with what you said about someone who knowingly is offensive. There is no excuse for that in my book!
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Old 08-29-2005, 01:17 PM   #35
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Right you are, GB!


Let me ask you this: Have you ever heard of someone being offended by a well mannered, well dressed person? [Based solely upon those attributes, of course - not by the persons attitude, statements, etc. I know I often offend people even while wearing suit and tie - but then that's just my rotten personality. ]
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Old 08-29-2005, 01:48 PM   #36
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Nope I have never heard of someone being offended by that. I have found people whose attitude was offensive though because they thought that because they were dressed well and someone else was dressed beneath them that they were a better person. That of course is not what you asked though
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Old 08-29-2005, 02:41 PM   #37
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To Ishbel: I was not trying to be rude. I can understand why you may find my post personally offensive, as I have found other posts in this thread slightly offensive. I urge you to keep this in the proper context. When people express opinions they will not be universally accepted. I understand that their opposing opinion is not directed as an insult to me personally. Please remember that I do not know you and am not directing my comments at you. I am discussing the relevance of traditional rules of dining.

In regards to the majority of the post, I agree. Perhaps I did not make myself clear. If you are not looking at me (or don’t care that I am disheveled), nor can you hear me, I fail to see how I can impact your dining experience.

There seems to be a communication breakdown here. Never have I suggested that you should be learning “good manners” from me. I think all here can agree that would not be a good idea. My point was that if your behaviors (manners, dress, etc.) are the totality of your dining experience, then others in the same room should have very little impact. As I said, noise is more difficult to avoid then visual input, thus the comment about keeping conversations low and children in their seat. For the record, you do (or did) rely on someone to explain good manners to you. Unless you were born with a napkin on your lap someone taught you what was appropriate and not appropriate while dining.

Finally, am I a reverse snob? Likely.

To Old Coot: For the most part you made interesting points. I would like to start by saying that I use LCD because I don’t want to type out “lowest common denominator”. Despite your instance that it is “my” term, you were the first to use it, in your third post. It was a concept that you “trusted I was familiar with”, perhaps a thinly veiled insult, perhaps not. Regardless, you gave birth to that particular bit of nastiness, not me.

Regarding the “Golden Rule” which I believe is “Treat others how you would like to be treated”. I can see why the verbiage itself has remained constant for so many generations. The reason is that the statement itself demands constant reinterpretation. No rule is more subjective and open to individual perception. Simply put, not everyone wants to be treated the same thus their treatment of others will reflect this. Regarding dining, I want to be ignored by my fellow diners. I would like my interaction to be limited to the service staff, friends at the table, and the food placed before me. As a result I ignore the other diners, what they are wearing, and what fork they use. Following the Golden Rule, it would seem that some people want others to tell them what to look like and how to eat, because that how they are treating their fellow diners. I am not attributing this statement to you or anyone on these forums, this train of thought is my own. I am simply applying the Golden Rule to infer ideas from expressed behavior.

Finally, I am enjoying this conversation so please refrain from personal insults, such as labeling my behavior as “a juvenile revolt”. My position is not juvenile, nor anti-social (Ok, maybe slightly anti-social). I am simply using what is between my ears to revaluate what I have been told, on a case by case basis. As I have stated, I have no problem with some of the accepted rules of “good dining”, others I feel are outdated and unnecessary. The categorization of me as “juvenile” is particularly unfortunate, considering that, despite these cheap shots, I have not lowered myself to personally insulting you. Feel free to attack my position, just refrain from attacking me.
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Old 08-29-2005, 04:27 PM   #38
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Oh, come on, Background. We agreed early on to refrain from personal attacks, and it has been my intention to do so. If I have worded things badly, or if you have misinterpreted (eiher or both are disinct possibilities!) then I am sorry. Not my intention.

As for the "juvenile" bit, that was intended to apply broadly to people who consistently challenge social traditions, mores, etc. Some folk really get their back up when imagining others are trying to control them.

I don't see gentle behavior as a challenge to my independence, but rather an accepted - if at times somewhat stilted - means of pleasant social interaction.

Insofar as seeking out a fine restaurant, the choice includes the total ambience. If the paint is flaking, the carpet torn, or the waiter is wearing overalls, the ambience is not what might have been expected. So the diner is robbed of the anticipated enjoyment. Oh, sure: he could ignore the torn carpet. It has no effect on the food. Nor do the overalls, so long as the wearer's thumb is not stuck in the food. Yeah, of course. Just go ahead and enjoy!

[Oh, and by the way(just for the sake of clarity): I don't consider referring to the "lowest common denominator" as "nastiness", and it was you who reduced that to the contraction LCD.]

Of course the "Golden Rule" is subject to individual interpretation. But even so, it tends to so moderate behavior as to encourage cooperation and compatibility. And, as jailbird Stewart might say: "That;s a good thing".
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Old 08-29-2005, 05:12 PM   #39
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Well said Old Coot. I am glad the ban on personal insults is still on. I will certainly agree that I may have misinterpreted some statements, if so, I too apologize. I, at times, find it difficult to determine when people switch from a personal you to the impersonal you on internet forums.

As you might guess I don’t agree that the LCD is a neutral term. Mostly because no one ever includes themselves in the LCD and it is always used to degrade the ideas or actions of the “masses”. For the sake of clarity you are correct that I reduced it to a contraction, but the conceptual box was already opened. Fortunately, the LCD is another topic for another forum.

Back to dining. I agree that when seeking out a fine restaurant is important and you should find one that suits your expectations. In the USA, at least, a restaurant largely determines the ambiance, including the dress requirements. If they don’t want to serve me because I don’t meet those requirements, it is their right. There are numerous restaurants that have elevated standards and I hope that you enjoy them. As long as the restaurant agrees to serve me then I have a right to be there. It is unfortunate this negatively affects your dining experience but the blame lies with the restaurant lowering their standards, to appeal to broader, more casually dressed clientele.

I agree completely about the Golden Rule, which is why I like it so much. What constitutes “cooperation and compatibility” changes over time, as the social context changes. It can be argued that the casual atmosphere of dining is a direct result of where today’s diner finds corporation and compatibility. Thus the Golden Rule in action.

Again, thanks for starting the thread it has been a fun conversation.
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Old 08-29-2005, 05:21 PM   #40
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OK, so let us get back on topic gentlemen. We are clear that Background feels that he may dress as he wishes as long as his manners are exemplary, and admits to reverse snobbery. Oldcoot prefers his ambience without folks who are shabbily dressed.

Why don't we move on to discuss some of the experiences we have had in fine dining establishments?

My husband and I went to one of our more upscale restaurants and the goofball behind me was conducting business on his cell phone. Clearly he was speaking to someone either hard of hearing or across the world because his volume was WAY up there! Otherwise, the ambience, the food and the SERVICE were amazing! Our waiter had actually been written up in the paper about his skills, and justly deserved all the praise he received.
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