Dining Etiquette

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Did you catch "Dear Abby"?

Dear Abby: Is it proper for a married woman to go out to eat alone when her husband refuses to take her? Solo in Sherman, Texas

Dear Solo in Sherman, Texas: Absolutely, if she can afford to pay for it and there is enough pet food in the doghouse.

SoloDining.com adds: It's proper for married women to eat out by themselves whenever they choose. (We hear from married women especially those with kids who say it's cheaper than therapy!)

Any comments? To e-mail SoloDining.com, click: Dear Abby

Did you catch "Dear Abby"?

Dear Abby: I am a newly single young women just coming out of a marriage. I was recently dining alone in a local restaurant when I was sent a drink from a patron at the bar. This had never happened to me before. Although I was flattered, I wasn't quite sure how to handle the situation. I wasn't interested in the gentleman sending the drink, and thus felt bad about accepting his kind gesture. What is the proper thing to do and say in this situation? Newly Single in the South

Dear Newly Single: Here's how the drill usually goes: Unless the man is a mind reader, he will send a server over to offer you a drink of your choice. When the server asks, all you have to do is smile and reply, "Please tell the gentleman thank you for his generous offer, but no thank you.." This eliminates the introduction and obligatory conversation that would normally follow should you accept the beverage.

In your case, however, the deed was already done. I would have smiled at the gentleman, taken a token sip of the drink and than asked for my check.

What's your impression of Dear Abby's advice?

We highly approve of her advice per "the usual drill" a pleasant, polite and definite response.

Under the circumstances as they appear above, however, we're concerned about Dear Abby's counsel: "Offer a smile" and "take a sip." We can easily imagine the "gentleman" construing same as an invitation and hot-footing it over to her table. (Non-mind-reader nor probably lip-reader how is he to know: (1) the sip is a token and (2) she has requested her check enroute to making her escape?

And what is the poor girl to do, should the drink appear at a time "other" than the end of her meal? Is she obligated to call for a check immediately after her first bite of a delectable entree?

Any comments? To e-mail SoloDining.com, click: Dear Abby

The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette 50th Anniversary

Discussion published in the Spring 2003 issue of SoloDining.com, the newsletter

"Etiquette is not about white gloves and fish forks. It's about giving people the confidence to feel comfortable in any circumstance, personal or professional," stressed Nancy Tuckerman to a USAToday writer. The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette, re-written by Tuckerman in 1995, has been refurbished with a new cover for the occasion.

"Confidence to feel comfortable," is a commodity sought by many solo diners. Inspired, your editor thumbed through 786 pages, hoping to discover the definitive "white glove" treatment of solo dining.
Here's what I found:

Cafeteria and Fast Food Establishments:

If the place is crowded and your only alternative is to join people already seated, you must speak before you sit down by asking, "Do you mind if I sit here?" However, once you are seated, you may fall silent; apparently, you have no obligation to speak further.

Women Traveling Alone:

Conducting Yourself Inside Your Hotel A woman should feel comfortable eating alone in the restaurant of her hotel. Having a drink in the bar area is also deemed "suitable." However, should you feel self-conscious about partaking of the latter, here's the book's advice: Take along books, newspapers and postcards.

These are diversions, of course, but apparently are equally as good used as subterfuge-fodder. If you receive an unwelcome overture, "politely" respond that you want to finish whatever activity you're involved in.

On the other hand if you find the overture acceptable/appealing you may accept an invitation for a drink or for dinner ["acceptable," apparently, ONLY at your hotel] with these qualifications: You must offer to buy the next round and you must pay for your own meal.

Conducting Yourself Outside Your Hotel Concierges are good sources of "appropriate" restaurants for females dining alone. (Their aside: "It's a sad fact that in many establishments, even expensive ones, women alone are not treated as single men.")

The book offers this general suggestion: Eat on the early side because restaurants are more accommodating when they're not so busy. And concludes with an excellent one: "If you find a restaurant you like, by all means, keep going back to it."

Forks on high to that!!!

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"EatiQuette's The Main Course on Dining Etiquette": A step-by-step guide to dining with confidence in the 21st Century, by David Rothschild

with contributions & illustrations ("info'toons") by Barbara Rothschild
(Booklocker, Inc./Lightning Source, 2003)

David Rothschild, author of "The Main Course on Table Service" (a bible for restaurants, hotels, culinary schools and vocational training programs), has written a book for all of us a practical, "user-friendly" guide to modern American dining etiquette.

Steeped in restaurants all his life (culinary arts teacher, cook, waiter, restaurant owner, newspaper columnist on etiquette, etc.), Rothschild knows his stuff. He provides information that used to be passed down from generation-to-generation. He acquaints you with the "nitty gritty" the basics of dining by guiding you through typical fine dining situations from an hors d'oeuvre party through a sit-down meal. Plus, he answers sticky "EatiQuette" questions that sooner or later drive all of us crazy. Questions like:

Are there rules for buffets?

Should a man order for a woman?

Is it okay to ask a chef for a recipe?

Get the answers to these questions and many more.

For more details, click: eatiquette

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Sooner or later, EVERYONE business and pleasure travelers, singles, those divorced or widowed, very-marrieds whose spouses are on the road, harried moms and dads, etc. faces the challenge of eating out alone!

cover - the art and satisfaction of dining alone revealed

THE How-to Booklet of Solo Dining Tips & Strategies:

The Art and Satisfaction of Dining Alone REVEALED!

is now available for purchase in PDF format!

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