MS. BEHAVING continues to be thrilled--and challenged--by her readers' etiquette dilemmas, and is answering away as fast as her petite gloved fingers can move across a keyboard. Here's the latest.
A READER WRITES: On a recent cruise, my husband and I were seated at a large table with six over-talkative strangers we didn’t like at all, much as we tried. Could we have done anything during the cruise to change our plight?
MS. BEHAVING REPLIES: Having been trapped in a similar situation in her early days on the high seas, Ms. Behaving knows that these days, you can ask for a table for two in advance when you book your cruise. More and more ships now have them. On board, if you find yourself surrounded by dining companions who make your teeth grind, go immediately to see the Maitre d’ and explain that you want a quiet table starting the next night, as your digestion is endangered. The Maitre d’ will gladly move you to your own table for the rest of your stay. Don’t worry about hurt feelings – this musical tables dance happens all the time. And do remember to tip the Maitre d’ for his/her kindness.
A READER WRITES: I arrived at a Madrid restaurant, famished and desiring paella, at 7:30 PM. There were no other diners, and the waitstaff was still eating. What gives?
MS. BEHAVING REPLIES: In many southern European countries – notably Greece, Spain, Portugal, etc. – there is no such thing as the early bird special. Tradition here means that cocktails begin at 9PM with leisurely dinner to follow. To blend in with the spirit of place, take advantage of a large lunch during the early afternoon (by the way, paella in Spain is a luncheon rather than dinner dish). Have some snacks in your room for when hunger strikes at 6PM. Then go forth and enjoy a wonderful dining experience with the locals!
WHAT’S YOUR QUANDARY? Have questions about etiquette, local or global travel customs or awkward moments on the road? Fear not! Ms. Behaving is ready to answer. Send your queries (putting "Ms. Behaving" in the subject line) HERE.
Photo above: Ms. Behaving at Royal Ascot.