Tonight I am going out to dinner with A for his friend H’s birthday (I gather she’s already drunk as we speak). So we have the usual set of dilemmas. What do I wear, given that my top half only is going to be visible most of the time, so it needs to be something that looks good in halves? Furthermore, I can’t really wear white because it’s almost a given that I’ll spill something on myself, because I’m like that. Is it smart enough that I should or can wear heels and if I don’t given the limited amount of stuff I have with me at the moment what should I have on my feet? Can I get away with jeans and some kind of vest top and a necklace?
Let’s now assume that I’ve got there safely, and decently dressed, and immediately you have the conundrama about what to order (yes, ‘conundrama’ is a word, I just made it up, and it seems just exactly right here). I never know the etiquette about pizza consumption in a restaurant – some places you can get away with just picking it up and eating it in slices by hand, other places you realise you can’t, and then you’re stuck with the following dilemma: cut into slices as if you are going to eat it by hand, but then actually cut those slices up into bite size pieces? What is a bitesize piece with pizza anyway? I always get this wrong and either end up nibbling on tiny little bits of pizza or trying to cram great chunks of hte thing into my mouth, and anyway this entirely depends on the behaviour and size of the toppings, how big the pieces are, whether or not they all fall off (and yes now you have tomato sauce all over that white dress, knew I should not have worn that…). Or you mince your way through the entire pizza cutting tiny little bits out of it and advancing slowly across the pizza (and should you spiral your way in, sweep slowly across the pizza left to right or from near to far edge, encroach upon one slice-shaped section slowly then start on the next, or what?). So yeah, pizzas probably out because whilst I’m deciding all this I’m sitting there like an idiot who has never seen cutlery before, let alone food.
Pasta is obviously out because most of it will end up on my clothes rather than in my stomach, especially if it’s spaghetti or tagliatelli or something. Clearly noodles are a risk for the same reason – and oh christ, chopsticks. I like trying to use them, but in public? No, no, no. Definite recipe for disaster (but probably going to be more of a success than using a prawn cracker as a spoon, as I once had to do – cue Ood-like tentacular display of noodles hanging from my mouth whilst I try to say something witty in the middle of a public park, cue my companion falling off his seat laughing, cue me laughing too and, well, noodles everywhere).
Steak means steak-knives and me being a weakling and therefore unlikely to be able to successfully cut it up without accidentally shooting my steak across my plate and covering myself in sauce or chips or something. And lets not even start on complex things like lobsters or crabs, or half a chicken, or mussels (this mainly means creamy winy sauce on my chin and indeed everywhere else, but it’s worth it because, well, moules mariniere = practically orgasmic, as far as I’m concerned). And you wouldn’t have predicted it, but salad is a disaster. It’s so much easier to eat with your fingers than with a knife and fork – it’s so badly behaved, leaves just jump out of my mouth or something.
And of course, restaurants. Wine. Lots of it. And I get giggly and even more klutzy and actually sometimes it surprises me that I still have a social life, let alone friends who are actually vaguely civilised and capable of choosing food based on what they like, and conveying it successfully and elegantly from plate to mouth. Why they even talk to me still is beyond my comprehension at times.
So, yes, I can sort of understand why Debenhams is honestly giving cutlery-purchasers lessons in how to use a knife and fork. Just in my case it has nothing to do with a lifetime of ready-meals, and everything to do with being the kind of klutz who can crash-land in a tangle of limbs on the floor after a failed attempt to switch a light off with her chin.