A few weeks ago, I narrowly escaped an awkward moment when I was a dinner guest of my university president and his wife. I knew the basics but there were some nuances regarding protocol that I didn’t know about. Fortunately for me, I was part of a group of people who had much more experience in these types of social situations and I was able to watch what they were doing. But it got me wondering, what if it is was just me as a guest? Our mid-century mentors came to my rescue. Kimberly Clark, the makers of Kleenex, created an educational film on how to behave when eating out.
In A Date for Dinner (1960), Eddie Williams, who just happens to be a stock boy at the grocery store stacking Kleenex paper towels and bath tissue, takes a break to call Linda Taylor to ask her out on a dinner date. She is totally excited about it but when she hangs up she confesses to her friend Kathy that she is scared to death. She just knows she’s going to be all dorky and make all sorts of mistakes and Eddie will never want to go out with her again!
But, as in any good mid-century educational film, there is a wise older person who is eager share their wisdom with young people. In this case, it is Aunt Kate! And Aunt Kate just happens to own a restaurant that is closed that day!
That evening, Aunt Kate and Kathy’s older brother, Jerry, are sitting at the dining room table watching Kathy make flower somethings out of Kleenex. The product placement is strong in this educational film. And, I’ll admit that when I saw Jerry and his personality, I wondered why Linda wasn’t going after him instead of awkward Eddie. But I seem to have digressed.
So, there the three of them are sitting around the dining room table in total silence except for the sound of the scissors, when Linda arrives. Jerry practically jumps out of his chair, lets her in the house and starts disrobing her. Okay, it was just her jacket.
After the appropriate introductions are made, Aunt Kate swings into action and they set up a mock date between Linda and Jerry (I’m telling you, she seems more relaxed with Jerry than with Eddie…I’m yelling at my computer, telling her to date Jerry, but she doesn’t seem to listen to me). As Jerry escorts Linda into the Dining Room Restaurant, Aunt Kate guides Linda step by step on how to behave when eating out.
As you watch the film, think about what is surprising to you and what you will start doing when you eat out. Share your thoughts in the comments.
As for me, I think Aunt Kate has a sly sense of humor. I loved that she told Linda that her date may not be a weight lifter. But I was surprised that a woman was expected to keep her handbag in her lap and that the napkin isn’t opened up all the way. Any thoughts on why we should keep the napkin only halfway unfolded?
Casual restaurants seem to be the norm nowadays but I think these tips can be used in a variety of situations. What do you think?
To your fabulous Technicolor dining!
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