DEAR ABBY: Oh, my gosh -- the letter from Bob Buckles' mom listing the rules for good table manners was the best! What a great woman. She included everything you need to survive a social dinner anywhere.
I am a social phobic -- there, I've said it out loud. And those rules will help me remember what to do. In case I missed a rule or two while raising my girls, I'll pass that list along. You can be sure it'll be posted on my fridge. Thank you, Bob -- and thanks to you, Mom. And thank you too, Abby. -- CHERI IN GIG HARBOR, WASH.
DEAR CHERI: Thank YOU. Mrs. Buckles' list of table manners generated still more of them. It's a subject people can sink their teeth into. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: People chomping on their food with open mouths is a pet peeve of mine. It is disgusting.
May I add a 21st suggestion to Mrs. Buckles' 20? "Keep your mouth closed when chewing your food, lest you resemble a cow chewing its cud." -- WESLEY WOOD, MELBOURNE, FLA.
DEAR WESLEY: Your pet peeve is shared by many others. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: May I offer another rule for Mrs. Buckles? It is: Remove your hat before sitting down at the table. This includes BASEBALL CAPS! -- NANCY IN HAMMONDSVILLE, OHIO
DEAR NANCY: You're right -- in polite society the hat should come off, unless it's there for religious reasons. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: The list of table manners was great! I'd like to add a few of my own bugaboos:
(1) Wash your hands before you're asked to sit down at the table.
(2) Be sure your hosts know about any dietary requirements well BEFORE the meal.
(3) Spoon up and out of a serving dish instead of shoveling the food over the edge to the plate.
(4) Don't feed the dog under the table. -- ANOTHER MOTHER, PHOENIX
DEAR A.M.: Excellent suggestions. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Mrs. Buckles' rules were the same ones my parents raised me with in the 1960s and '70s. I would like to add one other: Eat whatever the host has prepared, NO MATTER WHAT. If you're not sure you'll like it, take only a small portion. That way no food will be wasted.
Because of that rule, I have tasted many foods I might have refused to try -- and my opinions are based on experience, not ignorance. -- KERRY MERRILL, MIKANA, WIS.
DEAR KERRY: Very sensible! Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Reading the letter from Bob Buckles, I thought how much I would enjoy spending Thanksgiving with my children and their families. I wouldn't care where or how we ate, as long as we could be together.
We were "transplanted" away from our home and family in 1981. We have spent Thanksgiving with them only once in nearly 20 years. Holidays away from home and family aren't easy. Ask anyone whose job has taken them to other places, and I'll bet they would trade all of Helen's "rules" for a loving family dinner.
It makes me appreciate all the more what our armed forces -- who are away from home for our benefit -- do for us. -- ALSO A MOTHER, BUT NOT PICKY, GRAYSON, GA.
DEAR ALSO: I appreciate your sentiments, but I can't help but conclude that there isn't one "right" answer here. You and Mrs. Buckles both have a point.