My parents, like any young child’s parents, had to teach me table manners and general etiquette. And they taught and they taught until they stuck. “Don’t pick your nose dear– its not polite.” “Pick up your plate.” “Throw out your tissues after you use them– they are gross and no one else should have to touch them.” “When eating a fancy meal, start with the silverware on the outside and work your way in.” The list went on and on. The biggest struggle surrounded the elbows/arms on the table. I can remember my parents and grandmother repeating to infinity to “not put your elbows on the table dear” and “place your left hand in your lap if you are not using it to cut your food.” All the others I got, but to this I rebelled. My arm wanted to be on the table– it had to see what the other hand was doing. And my elbows liked to rest and hold up my head. But, no, no, no. We must not do that!
Now, I am on the other side of the world. As such, everything is upside down– including the rules. As a friend of mine works on my manners, I can’t help but think of how I must unlearn my parents and grandmother’s rule. I must not put my hand below the table. I must leave it up for all to see. And as I have to do that, I realize that my parents and grandmother at some point won. My hand wanders down to my lap whenever out of use.