Manners For Company

The dinner was exquisite.

Every preparation completed.

Pressed, linen tablecloth. Pristine, individual napkins. The finest china and crystal. 

Polished silverware.

And that’s where everything came to grief.

But I am getting ahead of myself . . .

My Dad’s eldest sister, Emily was hostess-ing a dinner party.

For her good friend and fellow teacher, Miss Duff.

It was to be a fairly formal affair, designed to impress her friend with the fact that Emily belonged to an excellent family of good breeding and proper deportment.

For a woman who taught proper deportment every day in her Home Economics classes, this was of vital importance.

Unfortunately, she made one mistake.

She invited said family.

All was ready.

Everything laid out in faultless order. 

Emily glowed with pride as she surveyed her impeccable arrangements.


The invited guest and the family members assembled.

Amidst quiet exclamations over the exquisite settings and appetizing platters of choice food, everyone took their places.

My Dad, then fifteen, glanced down. 

In keeping with the impression she was trying to convey, Emily had given each person their own polished and shining butter knife.

Maybe I should mention here that this wasn’t the usual tradition. No. In the Stringam household, one communal butter plate and a single knife were the norm.

Back to my story . . .

Dad picked up the knife. Made a show of studying it carefully.

Then held it aloft. “Erm . . . Emily?”

She looked at him.

“What is this for?”

All of her meticulous preparation and her attempts to appear elegant and refined were gone in an instant.

She put everything she had into the glare she levelled at her youngest brother.

Who simply grinned.

Just a note: If you are planning on hosting a party. And hoping for a chance to show your guests how refined and decorous your family is . . .
Don’t invite your family.