A Formal Dinner Party At The Boss’s House
To use this or that fork: that is the question.
Whether ‘tis better for the guest to suffer
The tines and blades of an outrageous table setting,
Or take up a glass of wine against a host of troubles,
And by not choosing, end them? To dine — to sip
No more; and by “sip” I mean to end
The embarrassment and the thousand faux-pas
With which a formal service trips you, ‘tis a tipple
Devoutly to be wish’d. To dine, to sip;
To sip, perchance to get drunk: ay, there’s the trouble;
For in that sip of drink what bliss may come
When we have shuffled off this suit and tie,
Must give me pause. There’s the politesse
That makes calamity of so long a dinner;
For who would bear the whipped corn and thyme,
The hostess’s frown, the host’s raised brow,
The pangs of an empty stomach, the dessert’s delay,
The workplace chatter, and the queasiness
Wrought from an ignorance of silverware,
When I might my hunger assuage
With a Big Mac? Who would salad forks bear,
To poke and prod about the lettuce,
But that the dread of something hidden underneath,
The undiscover’d condiment from whose taste
No tongue recovers, hurts the brain
And makes us rather eat leftovers at home
Than partake of fine dining among strangers?
Thus do manners makes idiots of us all;
And thus the resolve to have a good time nonetheless
Is shadowed over with the cold sweat of failure,
And all your plans to wow the boss
With your social graces reveal a buffoon,
And lose you that promotion. — Good Lord!
Whose stockinged foot is that?
Now I’m done for.
The Settlement Cook Book, Simon and Schuster, 1901 (1965 edition)
Also from this book: Zen and the Art of Washing Dishes