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My Son Questions Dining Etiquette

Vince's son believes being rich means he can eat any way he chooses.

“When I grow up, I want to be so rich that I don’t have to do this anymore,” my teen son said.

We were out to dinner () as a family. I assumed my teen son was upset for having to order off the kid’s menu.

I try to pass him off as the oldest looking 12-year-old in the world every chance I get. And this was one such occasion.

I tell myself that the wait staff actually believes it is common for 12 year olds to have lots of facial hair and have deep baritone voices.

Anyway, I figured our “ruse” was wearing thin on my son even if restaurants allow us to play our little game.

“I thought the portions would be larger,” I said.

“That’s not what is upsetting me,” he said.

“What’s the problem?” I asked.

He didn’t have a problem (no more than usual) ordering off the kid’s menu. What he had a problem with that night, however, is the thing he has been having a problem with for quite some time – dining etiquette.

“I want to get so rich that I can eat any way I want,” my son said. “I’m tired of following all these arbitrary rules. They make no sense whatsoever.”

My teen knows and follows (in public, at least) all the dining etiquette we’ve taught him. But he complains about etiquette, especially utensil etiquette, more than any one person I know.

On this particular night, he was tired of buttering his bread one piece at a time. He would have preferred to butter the entire thing at once so that the butter melted over the warm bread.

“Who thought of that silly one piece of bread at a time rule anyway?” my son asked.

As is often the case when it comes to etiquette, I had no idea.

“Why would someone care how I buttered my bread?” he asked.

Again, I didn’t have an answer that pleased him. And that’s when he began to talk about getting Zuckerberg rich.

“When I’m rich, if I want to cut my steak with a spoon, I will do just that,” he said.

“That better be a sharp spoon or a tender steak,” my 9-year-old son said.

My wife and I laughed. It was just what we needed to lighten the mood. We get tired of hearing our son complain about switching his fork from his left hand to his right or proper knife placement.

Usually complaining is all he does. This was the first time I heard him talk about getting rich to avoid the rules of polite society.  

In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone cite that as a reason they want to be rich.

“What kind of wife do you think you’re going to attract by eating like a barbarian?” I asked.

“One that also thinks these rules are stupid,” he said.

“I wish you well in your pursuit of riches and an understanding woman,” I said. “But until you’re Zuckerberg rich, Continental-style requires your fork tines face down.”

“Alright,” he said as he adjusted the fork in his left hand.

On the bright side, he never complains about chewing with his mouth closed.   

So maybe there’s hope for him after all.

Claire Karoly Ard May 25, 2011 at 04:37 PM
Tell him that if he gets Zuckerberg rich, he's going to have to attend a lot of high-class functions, and dining etiquette will be more important than ever!

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