Not all about the food

Take your thumbs and index fingers and make circles so the other fingers go up and look like one finger, said speaker Mary Mitchell, author of five books, including "The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Etiquette."

Students laughed when they found that this was a tool to remember that the "b" is for "bread" and the "d" is for "drink"; bread is on the left and the drink is on the right.

Mitchell gave this and other etiquette advice to about 120 students and faculty at the "Oh Behave! Professional and Social Etiquette" dinner in Upper Gwinn Commons yesterday evening.

It was a record attendance, said Jacqui Smith-Bates, director of the Career Development Center.

"Good manners really do come from the inside," Mitchell said. "They’re not about knives and forks."

However, some pragmatic advice was included:

* You don’t have to finish everything on your plate, though it’s still OK if you do;

* When combating hiccups, take seven sips of water without taking a breath;

* If you drop food from your plate, leave it, but only if it is out of sight;

* When someone gives you a compliment, smile and say thank you;

* Only box leftovers if the host does it;

* Do not text message at the table; the person in front of you is worth your time and attention;

* Once you pick up a piece of flatware, it doesn’t go back on the table, but on your plate;

* If you choose not to drink alcohol, you don’t ever have to apologize for your choice.

But pragmatic advice only carries so far.

"What really matters is your attitude towards other people," Mitchell said.

Students enjoyed the event.

"I thought she was surprisingly fun and approachable," junior Katie Campbell said. Freshman Neena Funk agreed.

"I had a really great time and I learned a lot," she said.

Associate professor of biology Cindy Fitch said she looked forward to learning from the event and passing the information on to her students. She has attended "Oh Behave!" for three years.

"I love it," she said. "I’ve got the bread and the drink thing down."

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Title: Not all about the food | Author: Nathan Kato | Section: News | Published Date: 2008-11-19 | Internal ID: 5838