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Mind Your Manners

[whitespace] Syndi Seid
Syndi Seid

Lick your wine glass, it's etiquette time

By Tracie Broom

Syndi Seid, founder of Advanced Etiquette, has been teaching protocol and etiquette for years. The consummate entrepreneur, she makes her own schedule, chooses her clients, has time to get her nails done. She's matter-of-fact, easygoing and smartly coifed. Nothing froufrou about her; she gets respect. No wonder--she graduated from the Protocol School in Washington, D.C., where the real ambassadors go to college. I'll tell you, if I am going to revamp my fork-holding technique, I'll do so only for the genuine item.

I felt betrayed, laid bare in the Clift's Sequoia Room, upon learning that my American "zigzag" style of eating is passé in light of the worldwide popularity of the continental style. Why, America, do you teach me so badly? I've been switching my fork from left hand to right after cutting meat for years. The American style, originally a result of complete ignorance as to the use of a newfangled Euro eating tool (the fork), was popularized during the American Revolutionary period. Adopting the proper continental use of knife and fork was considered to be a sign of allegiance to England, so patriots ate American style when out and about in the taverns. Or so it's said.

Now I learn that I must hold my fork, tines down, in my left hand as I spear chicken and use the knife to shovel patty-pan squash onto the back of the fork. No leisurely switching, only a mechanical repetition of spear, shovel, raise, lower. No wonder World Wrapps is so popular.

Those interested in learning how to get along in the world without the help of inane chain stores might consider taking one of Syndi Seid's Advanced Etiquette courses. They aren't cheap at $85 to $195 a pop, but it might be possible to convince one's boss to send the whole office to a seminar and call it company training. Seid teaches her pupils all sorts of things that are taken for granted by well-groomed citizens but are glaringly obvious when absent from one's quotidian behavior.

It's true, if you stick your tongue up against your wine glass just before you drink, you'll create a barrier between your MAC-matted lips and the CFO's Baccarat crystal. Follow the host's lead before eating or drinking. Offer the best seat to your guest. Unfold your napkin beneath the table. Do not allow your gaze to fall downward for more than a few seconds lest you be perceived as weak or churlish. Never show the soles of your feet to an Arab or a Thai. Get a lot of sun to cut jet lag. Always send a handwritten thank-you note after a meeting or interview. Club sandwiches may be eaten with a knife and fork or cut into fourths and eaten with the fingers. Do not dunk doughnuts in public. Buy gabardine suits to avoid wrinkling. Never network in front of the hosts at a social gathering.

The list is endless. Call Syndi, sign up and pay attention. You'll get a nice meal and learn how to become a world-class character without all of the namby-pamby corporate jargon you might get at one of those terrible business seminars.

For more information on Advanced Etiquette, please call 415.346.3665 or email Syndi at [email protected] for the Fall 1999 schedule.

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From the July 19, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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