Monday, July 23, 2007

Not Even Attempting Good Breeding

My boyfriend Andrew and I were enjoying Saturday brunch with another couple we're friendly with when I witnessed what I'm nominating as worst etiquette breach of the year.

The girl, who I'll call K, was telling a story when her boyfriend, who I'll call S, stopped her mid-sentence.
"You've got something in your teeth."

She was a little caught off guard, but immediately closed her mouth and ran her tongue over her teeth. Unsuccessful, she rolled up her napkin and tried to use it as a toothpick, as he shouted out instructions about which teeth the offending piece of food was lodged in between.
"More to the left, you just passed it!"

She kept picking, but when it was clear that it just wasn't coming out, he leaned in and stuck his finger into her mouth to try and get it out himself.

As I looked on in horror, Andrew pretended to be searching for something in his wallet, too grossed out to watch. After what seemed like hours, S finally caught the piece of food and pulled it out of K's teeth. Relieved as I was that the show was finally over, I called the waitress over to bring us the check. We were finished with our meal and I really didn't want to spend any more time with these people. But it wasn't over yet.

For their grand finale, K turned to S, stared lovingly into his eyes and thanked him for helping her. "Oh baby, you know I'd do anything for you," he replied. Then they started making out.

This traumatic event combined two of my biggest pet peeves, public grooming and PDA. I'm a big fan of personal space, and on top of protecting my own, I get grossed out when other people are all over each other. And public grooming is rampant; on the train today I watched a woman apply a full face of makeup (including eyeliner! that's some serious skill). I know what it's like to be crunched for time in the morning, but do you have to recreate your bathroom routine during my commute?

I thought I'd throw the question out to all of you- what's your biggest etiquette pet peeve and what's the worst etiquette breach you've personally witnessed?

13 comments:

Fabulously Broke in the City said...

I think that did it for me.

Ewww....

Mine would be people taking food off other people's plates without being explicitly invited to.

I've had people (other than Husband) stab food on my plate to eat it without asking, and/or people eating most of my meal AND their own, and I end up paying for my whole meal when they ate it.

Husband's aunt used to stab people's hands when they did that with the fork. No joke...

Teek said...

I kid you not, I was at a water park this weekend and a ... quite sizable (200lbs?) middle aged lady in a unflatteringly revealing bikini was literally laying on top of her partner on a lounger. This was bad enough, when my sister pointed out that she was laying on top of him squeezing his facial acne!

I cannot tell you how much I wish I was making this up. For like, ten minutes. In the middle of a crowded park. In a bikini you could see up. In... I seriously still want to retch thinking about it and I'm neither fussy nor squeamish, normally.

ambika said...

Wow, the acne thing just ruined my apetite.

The bus really is a bastion of bad manners. With the crazies so rampant, the normals probably feel like putting on a face of make-up is nothing. I think nail clipping was the worst I've seen. I won't even do that outside of the bathroom much less in *public*.

Anonymous said...

Someone at the office claimed seeing a "lady" in the street, removing her "menstrual pad" and tossing it into a garbage can. If this is not vile, I don't know what is.

Ms. P&C said...

My own sister & I had a huge fight about the eating off of my plate thing. I think it's unacceptable, she thinks it's "normal". I like to eat at my own pace and enjoy my food, and then she's swooping in with her fork making me think I need to huddle over my plate like the youngest child in a family of ten siblings who never got enough food 'cause everyone stole it all...

The grossest thing I see all the time is this one woman who puts on her makeup on the Muni bus. First of all, her makeup looks like it's ten years old it's so cruddy, and then she's doing it on the bus. Every time I see her, I have to intentionally sit or position myself so she won't be in my line of sight. I can't stand it! I want to say: "Um, are you even aware of all the dirt and bacteria you're sitting in right now? Makeup should be sanitary - do it at home where you can wash your hands! Think of what you're putting on your face!" Yet, every morning there she is...

Also, I think she's proud to do it - she has this look on her face like she thinks she's being sexy or something. She keeps looking around to see if anyone's watching her...

Ugh! Shivvers...

Kathryn said...

That was pretty gross , I have to say. This one reminds me a bit like that one. It's the most recent one that happened to me.

Well my friend ( lets call her C ) invited me and my mom to go with her and her mom to D.C. over the 4th of July , and I'm in love with Willard Hotel's cafe , Cafe Du Parc so we just haad to go there.

After we got our food , C demanded her mom cut up her steak for her. And then after that , her mom threw a huge fit because she didn't know the tuna salad actually came with tuna and then spent 10 minutes pestering the poor waitor with questions about the food served (like if the dish had eggs in it , and if so did they use the yolk??).

That drove me crazy. And then after C was done with her food , she blew bubbles into her Coke. Then when her drink was gone , she scooped up the remaining ice with her spoon and kept touching me with it.

Safe to say , I'm never eatting anywhere remotely nice with them again!

Meg said...

Yeah... I was eating dinner the other night with my group in London when all those at my table decided to floss their teeth right there.

I wanted to hide under the table.

Meg said...

(again, from the other Meg)

P.S. I don't really mind people putting makeup on in a train. I've been guilty on occasion. At the table is too much, though, unless it's just a quick swipe of lip gloss or lip stick. I'd rather people do it on the train then crowd a restroom needlessly.

My big pet peeve, though, is just people wasting other people's time. Examples: people not calling to say that plans have changed, people hogging a photo spot taking 20 photos when there are people in line (and then standing there trying to figure out what's wrong with the camera), people writing checks in the no checks line at a store, people on cell phones during class who tell the professor that they'll just be another minute (yes, this happens), etc.

I absolutely hate when people think that my time isn't worth just as much as theirs.

Oh, and then there was the lady who sat next to me in a very small college classroom doing her nails - clipping, filing, and polish. I don't know which was worse, the sound or the smell.

Anonymous said...

I just hate it when homeless people wash their hair in public bathroom sinks. Ew

jcc said...

Unfortunately, my boss has a nasty habit that I like to call the "pick and roll". He adjusts himself with inordinate frequency, and at highly inopportune moments. While I do not wish him discomfort, I also do not wish to see him dragging his bits here and there during a business meeting.

Gold Bond anyone...?

Anonymous said...

My pet peeve is unessecary eating sounds. Slurping, sucking, smacking...I hate it! I have a friend who, without fail, loudly sucks her fingers, one by one, at the end of every meal. Makes me want to smack her.

Anonymous said...

Wow. There's a whole host of missteps in that anecdote: interrupting, picking your teeth, picking your significant other's teeth (?!)-- the self-congratulatory makeout session afterwards. It sounds awkward, to say the least.

Actually-- depending on the context-- I don't generally mind PDA, provided it doesn't last longer than 30 seconds, it's not happening at the table or in the middle of a social event and hands don't get involved with anything other than chins, other hands, or maybe hair-- or get involved at all, for that matter.

My biggest peeve is when someone mistakes social pleasantries for an actual inquiry into the minutiae of their crisis-of-the-moment. "How are you?" "I'm well, thank you, and you?" "Oh, god, my a**hole boyfriend is driving me crazy! The other night he came home and..." Then you're obliged for the sake of politeness to wait until there's a breath drawn so that you can make a quick excuse about being pressed for time before casually sprinting away.

Anonymous said...

I think my biggest pet peeve is being rude to the waiter. PDA and all that is kind of annoying in general, but I can think of situations (like certain parties or a certain street in the West Village) where it wouldn't phase me at all. But I hate it when the person I'm eating with can't treat the waiter like another human being. Whenever this happens, I find myself slipping a twenty into the check while my eating partner is in the bathroom! I guess I spent too many years in the food service industry. These people's lives are hard enough, they don't need rude customers making it worse...

And this applies to people in grocery stores too! I saw a lady absolutely attacking this poor guy in the produce section who was merely trying to restock the celery because he didn't speak english. She gave him this whole argument about how he shouldn't move to a country and profit from a job there if he refused to use the language. I really couldn't tolerate this and just cut in and asked the lady if I could help her with something. When she said no, then I said well why don't you move along then?