Mrs. Obama’s arms get a lot of well-deserved attention: they are toned, yet feminine – what many women aspire to. However, Mrs. Obama’s famous arms were recently upstaged by her elbows when she rested them on the table at a luncheon. Oh the finger wagging and tongue clucking! You would have thought Mrs. Obama had clipped her toenails in public. Faux-rage gripped the internet’s manners police – our beloved First Lady had broken a cardinal rule of etiquette that we all learned at mother’s knee: no elbows on the table – ever!
But guess what? The no elbows on the table rule is a myth. Traditional etiquette allows a diner to rest her elbows on the table if she is between courses or if she is finished eating. However, most moms, mine included, missed the fine print on this rule and religiously (and in the case of my mother, aggressively) enforced the no elbows on the table rule during mealtime.
So what should you do? Elbows on or off the table?
My advice: Because most Americans believe that the no elbows on the table rule is proper behavior (and because I can still see my mother cutting her eyes at me when I put my elbows on the table), I say, unless you are the First Lady of the USA, keep your elbows off the table!
By Stayce Wagner, Spencer Crane Etiquette, LLC/All rights reserved