Just Behave

Just Behave: No Lap Dance, Please

Our etiquette expert answers your questions.

BY July 6, 2017


Whenever I go to the movies, the theater or a ballgame, I am never certain if it’s better to pass those already in their seats by facing them or turning my back to them. It’s awkward. If they remain seated, my rear (or front parts) will pass right in front of them. If they are standing and I face them, we’ll be too close as I pass. Which is better? Is there a right or wrong way to do this?—Libby, Naples 

Dear Libby,

Let’s face it: Neither way is ideal or comfortable, but interestingly enough, this is one time when turning your back on someone is the polite thing to do. The great American etiquette expert, Emily Post, concluded that it’s best to face the “stage” and turn your back to those you are passing (Etiquette in Society, in Business, in Politics, and at Home, 1922). This way, you’ll be able to lean forward as close to the backs of the next row of seats as you pass. You’ll avoid an uncomfortable face-to-face (or their face to your private parts) and you can leverage the extra space as you lean forward. You’ll want to be careful of those who may be seated in the row in front of you, as well as the feet of those in your row. Remember, you’re not out for a land speed record—easy does it—and the advantage of your backside approach is being able to drop into your seat with nary a turn. Enjoy the show (or game).


I have a friend who “overshares.” She tells me every last detail of every single moment of her day. Even the late-night escapades. I like being her friend, and some of the stories she shares are very entertaining, but I’m concerned that she tells TOO much to TOO many people. Should I tell her to watch what she says? Or let her continue to be an over-sharer?—Rebecca, Marco Island

Dear Rebecca,

From your end, updates with a little spice can be entertaining. But a nonstop run of that movie can be cloying and unwelcome. From her side, does she really want to chance having the intimate details of her life broadcast to the community at large (as will likely happen)? You need to be honest with your friend. Tell her you’re uncomfortable with her oversharing and that you wouldn’t want her to be embarrassing herself in front of others. Suggest that if she needs to vent at length, she should do so to a therapist, who’s paid to listen and keep things confidential.


I have a co-worker who has terrible table manners. It’s embarrassing to have him join us for meals with corporate bigwigs, and I’m even more concerned about his behavior with clients. I’ve even wanted to set him up on dates but am fearful that he’ll ruin the meal with his inappropriate behavior. My biggest peeve is that he orders first, immediately starts eating and orders desserts even if others don’t want to partake. It’s like it’s his own private dinner party and no one else matters. Other than sending him to your etiquette school, what should I do?—Debbie, Naples

Dear Debbie,

I bet he doesn’t even know what he’s doing wrong. So many little mannerisms are just bad habits learned at an early age. So be gentle with him, and point out how a few of his breaches might leave a bad taste in the mouths of his fellow diners. You might tell him he can brush up on dining/business etiquette by reading books or watching YouTube lessons on the subject. Bottom line? Mixing business with gluttony can be costly to the company and to him.  


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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