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by Abigail Van Buren

Man's Perfect Pedigree Is Marred by Table Manners

DEAR ABBY: I've been seeing "Matt," a 31-year-old investment banker, for a couple of months. He's caring, kind, intelligent and successful -- a wonderful person. After prep school, he went to an Ivy League college. All things considered, he is everything I have been looking for in a mate.

Then we went out to dinner and I watched him eat. Abby, Matt has the worst table manners I have ever seen. He holds his fork like a caveman and slurps his food.

My parents and grandparents taught me proper etiquette. I was brought up to believe that the way you conduct yourself, especially at the table, is a reflection of your upbringing.

Call me shallow, but Matt's bad table manners are close to being a deal-breaker for me. I don't know what to do. Frankly, I don't want to be the one to teach him table manners. Should I con him into an etiquette class -- or is that too sneaky? -- DATING A CAVEMAN

DEAR DATING: Con him? Speak up and tell this man exactly what you have told me! You'll be doing him a tremendous favor. People are judged in business -- as they are socially -- by the manners they do (or do not) display. Better he should hear it from you. And if you locate an etiquette class, offer to attend with him. Don't sacrifice an otherwise perfect relationship over a flaw that is fixable.