I of course think it’s important to have excellent etiquette, but there can be times when you simply must let go of certain things. I bring this up because a friend of mine just returned from a dinner date in which her suitor completely patronized her dining skills.
The pair went to a French restaurant, where the man translated each dish out loud (she took three years of French, but never mind). He then scoffed at her choice of dish and ordered things she didn’t really want. Each step of the meal was an opportunity for him to lecture her about proper etiquette, even though she is a classy, elegant woman with perfect manners. Everything had to be served his way, and he criticized her method of eating oysters, tasting wine, and cutting cheese. Because she is so nice, she merely gritted her teeth, but I was appalled at how rude this man had been. How ironic to be schooling someone on manners while being utterly rude.
Nobody is perfect, and while it may annoy us when someone uses the wrong fork or chews with their mouth open, it’s not really for us to lecture them. If someone is struggling to, say, debone their fish or crack their lobster, you can politely offer to help, but criticizing them will only put them on edge and make them feel insecure. Worse, you look like a tyrant. Worry about your own manners, and don’t let your pursuit of flawless etiquette undermine basic human civility.