I'm a Lady and So are You

The etiquette lady is steamed. She is put-out, frustrated and dismayed. She is horrified. She was standing in line, waiting to order her to-go cheesecake, and there were these bright young things (BYT), coming into the restaurant.

They had, clearly, in the words of Great Big Sea, "spent 3 hours on their hair". These BYT were lovely looking creatures, although, I must confess, their dates must have come early, as they didn't seem to have finished putting on all of their clothes. One young woman in particular managed to put on her belt (extra wide), but was clearly rushed out the door before finishing her outfit with a skirt or pants. How unfortunate that her partner was so unconcerned with her modesty.

Irregardless of her clothing state, it was nothing but cheek that these young men waltzed into a restaurant at 8pm on a Saturday - Valentine's Day, and had no reservations.

Good heavens! Who taught these young men to date? Who taught these young women to put up with this sort of nonsense? (The young women missing clothes below her waist gets a by, I'm assuming that so much of her blood was required to keep her legs warm that her brain might have been a bit slow that night).

But, enough! I am horrified. Horrified!

Let us review the responsibilities of a host, at a restaurant.

1. You pay.
If you invite someone to a restaurant, you must pay for their meal. Full stop.
And yes, dear reader, if you invite a number of friends to a restaurant for a meal, to celebrate your birthday, or an anniversary, you pay for their meals. Can't afford this? I'd suggest you scale back your plans.

There is, perhaps, a bit of leeway for the set of couples that meet every so often for a meal, where each couple pays for their meal, or for a set of contemporaries, who meet for lunch, but generally speaking, if you are inviting someone to a restaurant, you are paying for their meal. After all, I presume that you do not invite someone to your home and expect to have them cook their own meal.

2. You organize.
This means making a reservation. Yes, you must. You cannot expect your guests to sit and wait 50 minutes for your table. This will limit the places you can attend - to the best of my knowledge Arby's doesn't take reservations.

Organization also means that you provide a complete address, a phone number, and parking information. Your cell phone as well. And readers? A complete address is not a random description that it's by City Hall.

You arrive early, handling payment (below) ensuring that you have instructed the waiter on the number of people who are attending, and that the table location is to your liking. Know where the washrooms are, where to hang winter clothing.

3. You select appropriately
Why on earth to people persist in attempting to invite Mrs. Spit out for sushi? Mrs. Spit doesn't do raw fish. She just doesn't. And the entire experience is not wonderful, and she doesn't like it, and frankly, she can think of a million places she'd rather be.

Learn from this, dear reader. Unless the person has expressed an explicit wish to feast on the flesh of an uncooked flounder, stick to more contemporary fare. Pick a restaurant that has a wide assortment of options. You know, something for everyone.

4. You are still the host.
You should wait for your party to arrive, to be seated. You should have already scouted out the table, making sure that things look right and that you know where the bathrooms are. Listen to the specials.

If you are seated when some of your party arrives, get up, welcome them. Take their jackets from them, help them get seated. Know what the specials are, what the house specialty is. If you are ordering a bottle of wine, then you choose it (with some consultation from the table). The waiter or Sommeliere will bring you the bottle, decant it in front of you, and offer you the cork to sniff, and a small portion of the wine in a glass. You are checking to see if the cork is in good shape, and the wine tastes like you thought it would. Mrs. Spit is not a wine expert. Ask the head waiter, or the wine steward for their recommendation.

5. Handling Payment
If you don't handle this correctly, this is a terribly awkward place in the meal. Be gracious. Arrive a few minutes ahead of your guests, hand off your credit card, and instruct the Maitre'd or the head waiter that you will stop by to retrieve the card and sign your bill at the end of the evening. The bill doesn't arrive at your table. If someone questions you, smile and say "thank you for being my guest."

And hopefully I don't need to remind you, you are the last person to leave that evening. And when you are handling payment? Leave a 20% minimum tip. Waiting on a large group is a hard thing, and your server deserves some credit. And none of this ridiculous "I tip on the service" business. Your server was prevented from taking care of other tables, as the result of your large table. Compensate them for this.

Your Homework:

Tell us the story of your worst date!