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Old 08-27-2005, 03:57 AM   #21
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Well, I was taking about dining and values of the consensual agreement on traditional rules and the values of less traditional rules, but the degradation of society? It’s OK; there is another topic I am fond of.

First, I would like to say that I am glad to get to the heart of the issue, and I am not surprised my remarks were expected.

Second regarding the LCD, I am fully aware of their limitations, but I feel the hallmark of an enlightened society is the tolerance of the ideas from LCD. If everyone continued to accept the views of the established mentality, progress in any intellectual endeavor would halt. The fact is, the LCD is defined by the dominate intellectual climate. All who do not agree, will be deemed intellectually inferior to the HCD (Highest common denominator?), thus become the LCD. Nasty business that.

My music taste runs the gambit; Bach sits next to Black Sabbath in my record collection. I do care about where rhythm, melody and composition meet, I just don’t believe that all possibilities of musical creativity have been explored. Look in any genera or time you wish you will find both good and bad music. Poor music prior to recording has been lost because no one liked it, but be certain it existed.

Traffic rules are a ridiculous example because of the ability to infringe upon the “right to life” of another individual, while dining has no such consequence. That’s all that deserves.

Regarding the numerous names you suggested that the alterative to “dining exemplifies (piggishness, slobbering, spilling and swilling). These value judgments based on your definition of “dining” reveal your intolerance. I merely suggested that there is another form of dining without the rules that you hold so dear. Do you feel that I am infringing on “sacred ground”? Am I not allowed to call my experience “dining” because you and the food illuminati won’t allow it?

I agree that there are minimum rules for all situations, including society. These rules should be based on consensual agreement determined by those in the situation, not edicts form those who believe themselves to be the HCD (Highest common denominator?).

This is not intended to flame, but to bring to light the true crux of the issue. I would appreciate continued conversation, with a less accusatory tone.

P.S. I just saw the disclaimer, was it an edit or did I miss it? I am not taking this personally, I understand that I am just one person of all that you are upset with.
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Old 08-27-2005, 04:56 AM   #22
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Obviously, this line hit a nerve. When I was a child, my mom, on a very strict budget, I might add, bought crystal and china and a good set of stainless steel flatwear (in Europe, so it had all the acoutrements). Day to day we ate off whatever was at hand, but every Sunday we stayed in our church clothes, and learned how to to eat properly. Do you know that creme soda makes perfect champagne?

These Sundays really taught me lessons I've definitely used in my life. I feel for the kids today who someday may actually need to be able to eat at a company banquet without making donkey of themselves.

I met a man who had china, crystal, and silver and knows how to use it. For the first few years of our married life, we used it all every day. Then we realized we were losing small pieces of silver (no, not being stollen, just somehow winding up in the trash!!), so did buy some "everyday" stuff (and now we count the silver the morning after, then go trash diving --- I'm at fault, I'm sure. I think I scrape the plates and drop the fork or spoon I'm using to do it!!!)

We set a good table at least monthly, and when it isn't too hot (no a/c), hubby sets the table correctly every night (even if it is glass, corelle and stainless).

The real treat is that when Jer does set a table with the works (and our chandalier has real candles) and there are children present, it is such a treat to see that they haven't had it before and love it. Every last one of them. I have a 4-year old neighbor who just wriggles with joy to be able to light the candles and eat at our table.

One of the kids I "taught" as teens is now a caterer. Don't tell me it isn't worth teaching the young how to eat properly. It isn't just about the food.
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Old 08-27-2005, 07:24 AM   #23
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I couldn't agree with you more, Claire.

I HATE it when I am in a restaurant, and there are kids there who can't keep stillin their seats or want to run wild around the restaurant.

That NEVER seems to happen in French or Italian or Greek restaurants... probably because family dining is such an inherent part of their cultures. It used to be part of mine - but sadly, appears to be in decline, much like the USA.
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Old 08-27-2005, 10:59 AM   #24
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I guess I went off the deep end a bit in my last post. Sorry, Background. t's just that I see our society apparently losing ever more of the values that had made it function better than it does today.


I find myself falling victim to the trend toward the LCD, as Background calls it. We recently were going to a restaurant. I was wearing very casual attire, and said to B/W, "Heck, why bother changing - everyone else dresses this way anymore". Lower Slobovia, here I come!

Which illustrates how we lazy humans succumb to the effects of the general acceptance of lower standards in all walks of life.

Background is correct that the enjoyment of both food and companions is what constitutes pleasant dining. It is my contention, however, that such enjoyment is greatly enhanced by the beauty inherent in the more traditinal and somewhat formal dining experience.

And, while, as I said, I appreciate Background's candor, I must admit I am surprised and delighted that most who have responded believe that some formality in dining is appropriate.

By the way, I don't believe the china, crystal, linen, etc., is in any way essential - it certainly adds to the beauty of the experience, but has really nothing to do with good manners and orderliness. Or food quality!! I've eaten some mighty tasty stuff off of tin camping gear and paper plates!
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Old 08-28-2005, 12:45 AM   #25
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Every once in a while, I find myself in a high-end restaraurent with children near by. Usually it is hades, but on occasion it is very nice. I always make a point of stopping and talking to the parents, and complimenting them on their kids' manners. You don't know how much a few words can make their day. I don't know if anyone ever said it to my, or hubby's, mom and dad. But when I say, "your kids are so well behaved, it was a pleasure to sit next to them" or something similar, well, the parents AND t he kids just glow. So think of it.
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Old 08-28-2005, 06:30 AM   #26
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One time I was at a friend's house. My parents were there as well (it was friends of my husbands, my parents didn't know them, it was sort of a piggy-back invitation). The hostess handed me all the flatwear and told me to set it. I did ... backwards. Momentary dyslexia? I was well over 30 years old, and my mom was apalled. "I trained her better, I really did!" We still laugh about it to this day. And, I might add, remember the dinner fondly.

Have you ever had to tell an adult how to eat properly? I was once an NCOIC of some young enlisted folk .... some who had never seen a place setting. Hubby and I would give simple lessons. Outer to inner. Biggest lesson? Wait and watch. If you wait long enough, your host/ess will do something, and just follow. Meanwhile, just appear to be fascinated by whatever your nearest companion is saying. Works every time.

Yes, I love camp outs and other casual stuff (believe me, as a child of a sergeant with four daughters, we knew how to rough it). But you're cheating yourself, your children and grand-children if you don't learn how to properly dine as well. There's a big world out there, be ready to experience all of it.
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Old 08-28-2005, 04:34 PM   #27
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I was in an army family. My Dad's regiment has a long and proud tradition. He was an officer, and the officer's mess had 'family' luncheons some Sundays. Woe betide ANY CHILD who didn't know how to behave at the table or asked to get down to play..... The mess silverware was so heavy you almost needed two hands to lift a soup spoon or a dessert spoon!
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Old 08-28-2005, 05:22 PM   #28
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I agree with all of you I remember the first thing my mother taught us was no talking or chewing with your mouth full or open and no elbows on the table.Even if we were at a diner we were not allowed to slurp the last of our drink thru a straw.
Getting a bit off subject I remember we had to dress our best when flying on a plane or traveling in general.That was in the late sixties and I know its important to be comfortable when traveling but I see some people that dress like complete slobs when they fly.
Its sad that so many people become so intimidated at a more formal meal but its not that hard and and becomes quite natural if you do it enough.On the other hand alot of times when Im alone I love to eat in front of the tv.Just cant help myself.
Of course when you work in a restaurant you can pick up alot bad habits as usually you hafto eat fast and keep the work going at the same time.
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Old 08-29-2005, 12:17 AM   #29
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Once again great thread. I appreciate the lack of flames particularly because I don’t agree with the majority.

I feel it is important to state, in case my parents read this, that I was taught the “proper” way to eat at a young age. I know how to properly set a table and what to do with the bowl of warm water with lemon. Frankly I just don’t care much any more.

As I stated before rules exist in all situations including dining. The unfortunate part is that the rules are inflexible and determined by the amorphous “they”. Someone (Emily Post perhaps?) decided that the following behaviors were acceptable and others were not. Too often these rules have been used as a social knife to divide those with class and those without. The unfortunate purpose of this tool is to inflate the self-image of those who have “class”. The classless (or LCD) are ignorant of these rules and often feel mystified on why they have two forks, considering they both work for both salad and entree.

I also want to make clear that many of these rules are intended to preserve the experience of dinners in the same room. Loud conversation or rambunctious children can easily infringe on the experience of fellow diners. Numerous other rules such as crossing your legs at the table, and eating with the proper fork seem to have little impact on fellow diners. They are more to prove that an individual is aware of the rule, thus cultured. The simple test is, "does the behavior infringe on the rights of others?" Avoiding sound in a closed room is much more difficult than avoiding visual input for example. Something like using the proper fork is a purely mental construction and the easiest to avoid. Once again I am not advocating a social anarchy, I feel that all rules, dining and otherwise, should be continually reexamined for relevance, not taken as the final word that all subsequent people must adhere to or deemed the LCD.

For those who I have offended by my long hair or wrinkled shirt in a “fine dining” situation it is unfortunate that your experience was degraded by my presence. My recommendation is ignore me, and anyone I am with, that does not meet your expectations. You will not find it difficult, just turn your head away. I will not let my voice or any kids I may someday have intrude on your sonic space. The problem with relying on others to dictate your environment is that many simply don’t care and the remainder doesn’t understand your expectations.

For Old Coot. Thanks for bringing the conversation back to a friendly tone. You are in fine company proclaiming a social decline. I have found primary references from the Roman Republic (80 BC) stating the same thing. Fortunately, society is still kicking. I do not agree that the “old society” was inherently better than the new version. The same argument of “degrading society” has been used to argue against democracy, women’s suffrage, civil rights and in vitro fertilization. I am not suggesting that change is all roses and candy canes, but the socially destructive movements will die out and the socially beneficial ones will remain. This pattern has been replicated as long as history has been recorded. Try to look past my generations casual clothes and see the true measure of a person, their ideas, I think you will be surprised by their integrity.
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Old 08-29-2005, 04:33 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Background Noise

For those who I have offended by my long hair or wrinkled shirt in a “fine dining” situation it is unfortunate that your experience was degraded by my presence. My recommendation is ignore me, and anyone I am with, that does not meet your expectations. You will not find it difficult, just turn your head away. I will not let my voice or any kids I may someday have intrude on your sonic space. The problem with relying on others to dictate your environment is that many simply don’t care and the remainder doesn’t understand your expectations.

.
I'm not sure whether you set out deliberately to be rude, but if you did, then you have achieved your objective.

I would certainly not make a point of looking at any dishevelled diner (or his/her companion(s)) - simply because to do so would be rude in my book, and if he/she feels comfortable, then good luck to him/her. As for noisy and obnoxious children - I think EVERYONE here has had experience of that when dining out. I'm not talking about places like McDonalds or a chain pizza joint.... I am talking about when it costs upwards of 100 pounds sterling to eat out and ENJOY the ambience of the restaurant and the good food of its chef.

I don't RELY on anyone to explain good manners to me - especially not someone who keeps posting that he KNOWS the 'rules' but chooses to ignore them. Reverse snobbery, perhaps?
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Old 08-29-2005, 10:22 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, 10:51 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, 11:00 AM   #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, 11:15 AM   #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, 12:17 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, 12:48 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, 01:41 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, 03:27 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, 04:12 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, 04:21 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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