The Civilized Minute

a minute of manners and musings

no good answer

I may have created a monster.  Just as my son was about to take his first bite of a cupcake on his birthday, he stopped mid-motion and asked, “Mom, what’s the proper way to eat a cupcake?”  And the expert said…"Well…”.  So, he shrugged his shoulders and dug in.


That question actually queued an interesting conversation with a group of 9 year olds.  Have you ever noticed how kids can get to the heart of the matter in mere seconds?  My eloquent and decisive answer to the Birthday Boy’s question was this:  There really is no proper way to eat a cupcake.  In other words, I had no good answer. 

Sometimes, you just have to go with it.  Roll with the punches. React accordingly. Do the best you can.  Sometimes, there are no rules.  And here is where the rubber meets the road in the etiquette world. 

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? 

You simply do what you know is right, according to your heart and your head.  Take, for example, a dinner guest who has spinach stuck in their teeth.  Do you call them out in front on the whole table? No, you wouldn’t want someone to do that to you.  Do you summon them into the kitchen for “help”?  Only if you can do it slyly because discretion is the name of this game.  Just wait for an opportunity to either motion discreetly or whisper in their ear. 

The magic to this vague approach is to know the basics of etiquette.  With this groundwork, you will be equipped to let your heart and your head guide you in the sticky situations that life tosses your way.

Now, this girl…..


She doesn’t mind a sticky situation and doesn’t ask any questions. 



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