Dearest Claire,

I hope you are well. I want to ask for your help on an ongoing problem I’m having with my best friend. We hang out all the time, and for the most part we have a great time together. But she has no table manners at all. She chews with her mouth open, she doesn’t use a napkin, and she always picks up the wrong utensils. I know that I should look past this, because she’s such a great person and friend, but it’s embarrassing, and I feel like I can’t take her to any fancy restaurants. Please tell me what I should do to either fix the problem or move past it myself!

All the best,

Dignified Diner

My beloved Diner,

Oh, what a tricky ricky this predicament is! You love your friend fiercely, it seems, but how are you to resist the siren song of fine dining!? The endless water options, the tiny bowls of olive oil, the decadent orgy of sweet and savory cured meats – pure nirvana! I myself am a bit of a foodie – you know my motto, if you aren’t willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money for artichokes, then you simply cannot called yourself epicurean! Living a life in which you are not served curated dishes by uniformed personnel is unreasonable!

Luckily for your, Diggy, there is an easy explanation for your friend’s proletariat proclivities. You see, we are both aware that using a shrimp fork for anything other than shrimp is akin to devil worship, but only because our parents took the time to instill these aristocratic values in us at an early age. Therefore, imagine your friend is a tiny child, out to dinner at a fine dining establishment for the first time, confused and desperate for instruction. She’s probably looking at the napkin, wondering why the waiter put a tiny tablecloth on her lap. Maybe he thinks she’s a table? Not a large table mind you – the napkin is significantly smaller than the tablecloth on the actual table, even she can see that. But perhaps a side table or a nightstand. Why does the waiter think I’m a nightstand, she is probably musing, worried now that her outfit might be just too brown. Well, Diggity Din-Din, you must provide the guidance necessary to put your poor, lovely friend’s mind at ease. When she takes a sip of her drink (probably from that tiny cocktail straw, amirite?), lean over and pick up the napkin from her lap. Look her right in the eyes and wipe her lips gently with the napkin. Lay the napkin back in her lap and give her a supportive and encouraging smile. Voila! You have demonstrated proper manners without having to have one of those dreadfully honest conversations that we all find so distasteful. Similarly, when she mishandles her soup spoon, drawing it towards her rather than away or some other similarly wretched misstep, simply take her hand in yours and guide the spoon away and up to her lips as his proper. Remember to tip her head when necessary! It will take time, patience, and many, many meals out, but you will turn your friend into the kind of patrician meal companion you deserve yet, Dignified!

Remember, they say that the children are our future, but only the ones that know which bread dish is theirs!

Cordially, Claire