First Date Table Manners
By Kari DePhillips
It’s your first date and you’re going to dinner (hopefully, it’s somewhere more upscale than Arby’s). You may be nervous. If you’re not, maybe you should be — but don’t worry. This guide will tell you everything you need to know and then some about table manners. Avoid these faux pas, and you’ll likely score a second date:
Don’t Overanalyze Your Food: Your dinner date is a prospective love interest, not a prospective lab partner. Here’s what you need to remember:
• Sushi is food – not a plate decoration. This also means that it’s inappropriate to play tic-tac-toe with your roe.
• It’s normal to eat. Even Rachel Zoe does it sometimes.
• It’s free dinner (if you play your cards right).
• You look as funny as you feel. Not eating at dinner really is weird – and your date will judge you for it.
Servers Are People, Too: You do not impress anyone, including your date, by being rude to the server. What you may not know can indeed hurt you:
• If you’re not ready to order, don’t make your server wait around while you spend five minutes debating whether to have your chicken blackened or grilled.
• Yes, it really is Diet Coke. Your server is not trying to make you fat by sneaking you sugary drinks on the sly, so there’s no reason to ask five times if you’re really drinking calorie-free chemicals.
• Are you really allergic to peanuts, or do you just really want your pad Thai sans legumes? Don’t say you have allergies if you don’t — it can cause a lot of problems in the kitchen and earn you a dish seasoned with floor debris.
• Snapping at a server will not make the food come out faster. It will, however, prove to your date that you’re needy and demanding.
Utensils Are Useful: Picking up your utensils and ogling them won’t put food into your mouth.
• Utilize your utensils from the left to right. If there are too many forks and you’re not sure which to use, work your way from the left to the right (or cheat off of your partner). Don’t act like you’ve never seen Pretty Woman.
• Unless you’re at an Ethiopian restaurant, use utensils instead of your hands.
• Your napkin goes in your lap. Not in your collar, and not left unused on the table.
Dress Appropriately: A trench coat, even with nothing under it, sends off a weird vibe. Before you make your final decision about your first date outfit, ask yourself:
• Do I look like I’m ready to make love in the ladies room?
• Would I make fun of a stranger for going out like this in public?
• Could I pass for a Mormon missionary?
• Spanx or no Spanx? (Pro tip: wear Spanx if you want to make sure you keep your clothes on all night.)
Final thought: If you forget any of this, make up for what you lack in class by being gracious and charming. Even if you’re wearing a bad outfit and handle flatwear with no grace, a confident and positive attitude can earn you an invite to Date #2.