Just Behave

Just Behave: The Lunch Police are Horrified

Our etiquette expert answers your questions.

BY May 8, 2017

I have a group of friends, about 10 of us, who gather once a month for lunch. At the end, one or two of the guys use their fingers to pick food from between their teeth. They do this while we’re still sitting right at the table. Another guy blows his nose in the cloth napkin. It almost makes me want to skip the lunch, but I like the conversation and I like the group. What should I do?  —Peggy, Bonita Springs

Dear Peggy,

You say you meet monthly, so I would assume it’s a close-knit group. Maybe the cleanest transaction here—and you want neat and clean—is to bring up the subject of pet peeves. When it’s your turn, you could mention these habits (without pointing fingers) and hope that the offenders get the hint. Raising the stakes, wouldn’t it be something to take various cellphone photos of the lunch—including the perpetrators’ picking and honking—and ask if you could post them on Facebook? If they don’t get the message now, you better learn to live with their habits or, better yet, skip the lunch part of relating to your group of friends.


I have a friend who continues to push his thoughts about politics on me, and he thinks it’s funny. I’m seriously concerned about the future of our country, and he just thinks that I’m a sore loser. He’s mean about it, and it’s frustrating. I’ve asked him to stop, but he continues to bring up the subject. —Kathy, Fort Myers

Dear Kathy,

Does a friend have to have everything his way? Does a friend ignore the feelings of others? Does a friend laugh and make light of your beliefs? They say politics make strange bedfellows, but in your case I’d say you should drop him. Even if he eventually comes around to respecting your political views, I’d still vote him out of your life for personal failings. 


Before a dear friend passed away from cancer, she had a “falling out” with another close friend. The “close friend” chose not to make amends with this sick friend until she heard that it might be only a week before she passed. The “close friend” demanded to see the friend and bothered the relatives to visit. She was denied. Now, the friend is feeling guilty and wants me to ask the family to allow her to participate in the funeral and wants to meet with the family. What should I do?—Sally, Fort Myers

Dear Sally,

First, I’m so sorry about the passing of your friend. And you should do nothing to press the case for the “close friend.” The family members are grieving and the focus should be limited to the loving memories of the deceased. If they wanted the “close friend” to participate in the funeral, they would have said so. As for the “close friend”—she should consider this a dramatic lesson in giving and caring and seeing the big picture. How could she let “falling out” concerns rule her behavior for months when her friend lay so ill? No matter who was right, she needed to step up as the bigger person, apologize if necessary, forgive for sure and show that true friendship survives petty differences and mistakes. Learning her lesson in this so final of ways, she should show her respect at the funeral, not make a scene, and be far more understanding and forgiving of others as she moves past this. 


Suzanne Willis is a hospitality consultant and the founder/CEO (Chief Etiquette Officer) of Mimi’s Manners, specializing in dining etiquette for children, teens and adults.


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