Table Manners

Words by: Sarah Louise
Art by: Lauren Easter

You spot him seated at a small table in the corner. Thank God, he looks like his Hinge profile. The restaurant is dimly lit, so hopefully he won’t notice the pimple that rudely decided to pop up this morning. He stands up to greet you, pulls your chair out and fills your glass with water. Tick. 

Last Saturday, you downed an $8 bottle of Jacob’s Creek from a red plastic cup. Tonight, you’re a wine connoisseur — and certainly against single-use plastics. You ask the waiter which white is the most crisp. The waiter looks fresh on the job, perhaps only 18 years old, and his mullet kinda clashes with his white-shirt uniform. He hesitantly points to the sauv blanc on the menu with a shaky finger but assures you he’ll check with the bartender. Turns out, the chardonnay is the crispest. 

Elbows on the table? It’s a fine line between a win or lose. If he puts his elbows on the table with food present, then he lacks fundamental manners. If he puts his elbows on the table after the meal, locking eyes with yours, as a gesture of intrigue and intimacy, then he’s a keeper. Dating is like walking a tightrope. 

Don’t order soup, spaghetti, or ribs. No one likes a slurper. Do keep elbows tucked in when using a knife and fork. No one likes a bird at the table. 

You’ve finished dinner. You’re still a bit peckish, but you wouldn’t dare overindulge on a first date. The vino has bloated your tum. Although you opted for the ‘relaxed fit’, your straight-leg jeans are deceivingly uncomfortable around the waist. It’s time to excuse yourself to go to the restroom. You bring your handbag, because you can’t trust anyone these days. Sitting on the toilet, you check your phone to see a hundred messages from the gals’ group chat demanding updates on your date. You read the messages via the home screen notifications, because if you read them on the Messenger app, then you’re obligated to reply. Plus, it’s already been a few minutes on the loo… you don’t want him to think you’re actually taking a dump. 
As a feminist, you convince yourself that you’re happy to pay for dinner. Your subconscious disagrees. Luckily, your date insists that ‘this one is on him’. Little does he know — his entire lifeline, according to your Mum, girlfriends, and co-workers, depended on that decision. “You can pay next time,” he says. Alright, so that means there’s a next time

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