Great Russian writer Chechov said: “A good upbringing means not that you won't spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won't notice it when someone else does.”

My friend Mr. C really loves this saying. Mr. C is all about etiquette. Even his dog Rex has good table manners. People can learn a couple of good tips from Rex. Then again, when Mr. C has company, he does not allow Rex to eat at the table.

Unfortunately, most people are not ready to appreciate exquisite manners yet. Mr. C is doing his best to educate at least the close circle of his friends.

Let me mention a party we had at Mr. C’s last Saturday.

Everyone is eating dinner. No one is talking with mouth full, no one is chewing with mouth open, no one is using his tie for napkin. And no one is spilling sauce on the tablecloth.  Fork in the left hand, knife in the right, clean napkin on the lap, mouth closed. Our friend Mr. D swallows the last bite of bean casserole, wipes his mouth with clean napkin and tells Mr. C: “the beans are delicious”. Mr. C smiles. He is very proud of his casserole and his guests. So far, so good. Then our friend Mr. B reaches for a cheese tray and knocks down his glass with red vine. Mr. C acts like nothing happened. And so do we. (Did I mention Chechov?)  Everyone is smiling and chewing with mouth closed. Then Mr. C notices that no one notices that he did not notice that Mr. B spilled red vine on the tablecloth. So he wipes his mouth with a clean napkin and says:” Great Russian writer Chechov said…”, and he repeats his favorite quote. We all node. Mr. C looks at Mr. B and smiles. Mr. B smiles back and says:”I did not spill no sauce”. Mr. C smiles even wider and says:”That’s right; I am not talking about sauce. I am saying, how nice it is to have dinner with a group of well-mannered people. You see, you spilled red vine on the tablecloth, and no one mentioned it. I personally didn’t even mention that the tablecloth is brand new. That’s good manners.” Mr. B’s face turns as red as the vine he spilled.  “Don’t you worry about it”, - says Mr. C, - “I am not talking about the vine. Vine is nothing. It’s not like last time when you broke a plate. Did I mention, it was a plate from ‘Tiffany’? But I am not talking about expensive china. I just want to commend you, people, for your great manners.”

As Mr. C commends us for our good manners, our friend Mr. D looks at Rex, the nice housedog, and calls: “Come here, Rex, come here, good boy.” We all move our eyes from red and sweaty Mr. B to tail-wagging Rex. We smile. Mr. D (his face is also somewhat red) is rubbing Rex behind the ears. Suddenly Mr. D makes a nasty face and says to Rex:”Ewww, you naughty boy, why did you do it?” People, sitting next to Mr. D, stop smiling and also make nasty faces.

“Let me tell you about my dog Rex,” – says Mr. C, - “Rex is a very well-mannered dog. He would never come to the table, while people are eating. But he could not reject your invitation. That’s how well-mannered he is. He also would never pass gas (not to be mentioned at the table) in a company of nice people. Some nice people” – Mr. C smiles at Mr. D, - “can learn etiquette from my dog Rex. For example, if after eating four servings of bean casserole, they are in need of (I beg your pardon) bottom burp, they should leave the room, and not purposely beckon the host’s dog to blame him for the fart (excuse me again).”

That’s our friend Mr. C. Always tries to teach us good manners.

But people are not ready yet to embrace delicate politesse. Surprisingly, women are the ones getting upset with exquisite courtesy. For example, Mr. C is teaching us a great maneuver of pushing in a chair for a lady to sit down. He asks our friend Mrs. J to sit down and pushes in a chair for her. Mrs. J is not pleased at all. Did I mention that another lady – Mrs. W – was already sitting in that chair? Mrs. W is not pleased either. But as Mr. C says, that was not a part of the maneuver. He got sidetracked. He apologizes. And he kisses both ladies’ hands. That’s how well-mannered he is.

Later that night Mr. C is talking to our friend Miss Q, and mentions that it is impolite to keep her hands in the pockets. Miss Q considers the statement rude. Did I mention that the pockets were in Mr. D’s pants?

Mr. C is trying to make us welcomed in high society. He tells our friend Mr. P:” Sorry to say, pal, but your palms are really sweaty. People may not like it. Take my advice, before shaking hands with someone, give them a pat on the shoulder and then extend your hand.  As for me personally, since we are good buddies, let’s confine to a fist bump.” And Mr. P says:” It wouldn’t be necessary. I will never say Hello to you again.”

Mr. P is not ready to follow good etiquette. Maybe it is too late for him. Maybe his parents have never taught him good manners. Maybe they’ve never spoken to him politely. Poor Mr. P has never heard “Would you please get your bicycle off my foot?”

We need to teach our children manners while they are still young. Let me mention a scene, I’ve recently observed on the beach.

A little girl is building a sand castle next to the water. Two feet from her a little boy is building his sand castle. The little boy has a red plastic shovel. The little girl doesn’t have any. The little girl comes to the little boy and asks politely:”May I pweese pway with your thovei?” The little boy is not polite. He does not bother to answer the lady and grabs his shovel with both hands. The little girl comes closer and grabs the other end of the shovel. Also with both hands. Playing tug-of-war is not polite. So the little girl releases one hand and smacks the little boy across the face. The little boy releases both hands and starts crying. The little girl takes the shovel and starts walking towards her sand castle. She turns around and says:” Thank you vewy much.” She is very polite.

Did I mention that the little girl was Mr. C’s daughter?