• Joanna

      Agreed! Don’t forget, that cloth napkin is NOT a handkerchief – its purpose is to wipe the mouth. Even if it’s washed, think of the next person who will be using it, and how they’d feel if they knew someone had blown their snot into it…

      • Remember the napkin is for the lap and not to wipe the mouth, except for emergencies or should you find something unseemly in your food once it’s in your mouth.
        Blowing/clearing/picking at one’s nose while seated at a table is rude and has little to do with germs and more to do with its nauseating affects on others.

  1. Gertrude

    I was raised that a wipe is OK, so long as it’s subtle, but anything that requires force (such as a blow) is not OK, at all. In that situation, you should excuse yourself to the bathroom. If you sneeze and a blow is required, a short puff is acceptable. These were the rules around our family dinner table, mind you, not in a fancy restaurant. It’s common courtesy to those who you dine with to not disgust them.

    • Joanna

      I think a subtle wipe is also ok – especially if, for instance, the person has a cold and will be wiping rather often. It’s not reasonable to expect the person to get up and head to the restroom – which might be some distance off – each and every time. After all, wouldn’t it be considered equally rude to be leaving your dining companion so many times?

  2. Carol

    This is a total grosser-outer for me…and my husband does it all the time despite my having told him how repulsive I find it.

    It’s not a little snoot-chirp or wipe, it’s a full blown trumpethonker with that slushy gooey mucus sound, often repeated two, three, or more times. Sometimes he inspects his fingers then wipes them on the napkin…which he puts on the tabletop. Then proceeds not only to eat, but to reach for food in the common area of the table. Sometimes when sitting to his left or right I can feel the air ejected from his napkin, and on two occasions I got up and left the table because mucus flew through the air. It’s just…filthy, low-class behavior. And he refuses to take my feelings seriously. I mean, he’ll grumpily accept my input, then for the next night or two dramatically point out that he’s restraining from blowing his nose (which can mean either him snuffling snot, or dramatically getting up from the table to walk across the room to blow his nose). Then it’s back to the old behavior.

    Even though he comes from a supposedly better off “executive”family–as in corporate vice president dad, college educated mom, nice house–his family has utterly miserable table manners too. They dive over their plates like starving herons, shovel food from the plate into their mouths with their heads down near the table surface, take enormous bites, chew twice, then swallow, sometimes choking on the bulk then grabbing the water glass to take an enormous downwashing gulp (usually making desperate and wet noises), swallowing noisily, then making this open-mouthed sound like a giant shellfish struggling its siphonophore through mud to squirt. Then they are done in about two minutes and ready to run off and do something else. No conversation, no listening, no enjoyment of the food. Even starving wolves are more social!

    That’s all awful…but for me the worst is the nose blowing…and the fact that I cannot take my husband out to a nice restaurant without seeing people trying desperately not to stare. Him eating is like watching a video of How Not To Eat In Public (or Private). I’ve talked to him about this, but it seems to make no impression on him.

    He also does this thing where he closes his eyes with every forkful. First he loads the fork with as much food as I’d consider five or six bites or more. He’ll push food into a pile and work the fork into it in order to get the most possible food on the tines, base, and even handle. Then with eyes closed and mouth stretched wide, he levers the food in, wiggling the fork back and forth to get it all in, usually with it dragging on his opened lips as it goes in. Then he opens his eyes, chews maybe twice or three times, gulps, washes it down, forks up another enormous pile of food, closes eyes, coda.

    It seems more like some compulsive behavior than dining. Needless to say he is finished before most of us have even 1/4 started…then goes looking for more. I assume that many of these are old habits related to him being obese as a child. His mother used food as reward and punishment, and he is utterly incapable of enjoying a meal in the “higher” social sense.

    We had a friend over for supper who was eating very hot Thai food. It made his sinuses water. He picked up his (paper) napkin, turned away from the table, dabbed his nose, gave a very tiny blurt to clear the nasal wetness, folded his napkin, and placed it on his lap. Then he proceeded to finish his meal.

    Later my husband said, “You didn’t say anything to HIM about blowing his nose at the table.” I replied that when he did it, I didn’t hear an apocalyptic horn honk, feel a gust of wind, nor witness/experience flying bodily fluids.

    He also has a habit of boring into his nose, mouth, and ears at the table, but that’s I guess another topic. It seems to have gotten worse over the years, because when we first knew each other, my recollection is that he didn’t do things like this. In fact in one of my early journal entries I wrote about what a relief it was to go out to eat with a man who knew how to conduct himself in public. What changed? Did he give up trying because he landed a partner/wife?

    • Eileen

      Unfortunately, it is not deaf. Honestly, Carol, I have read this again and I am on the floor laughing. Starving Herons. Seriously, you are funny. OK, so here’s some practical advice: Tell him to stuff a sock in it and if he doesn’t do it, do it for him.

      No, honestly, I am going back on the floor now and laugh some more. Dear Lord, this kind of thing is why I stayed single. Then I land a room-mate with the same habits. GHHHGGHHHHHHAAAAAAA! There’s no escaping the mucus monster, I guess. Still, your post is the funniest thing I have read for awhile…got a huge laugh out of it. Thank you. I PRINTED IT OUT FOR MY ROOM-MATE. I SUGGEST YOU PRINT IT OUT FOR YOUR HUBBY AND SERVE IT TO HIM FOR BREAKFAST, NICELY CENTERED ON THE PLATE, WITH A BOX OF KLEENEX RIGHT AND LEFT INSTEAD OF SILVERWARE. SERVE HIM KLEENEX THREE TIMES A DAY UNTIL HE GETS THE HINT. GHHAAAAA!

  3. Diane Furr

    Akl this is inane. First remember that most of these rules were in response to germ spreading. Most people clearly do not understand germs here. While it may seem more infectious for someone to blow their nose at the table in fact there are considerably more germs in your mouth. As an ex dental assistant I can assure you that the little mouth wipe most do is very germ filled. Way more than snot. I think since you’re all ignorant of the true perpose if manner the argument is moot.

    • Eileen

      Do you have ANY concept of the concept of disgusting? I don’t want to see you deal with your bodily fluids, bacterial considerations aside. Take it out of the room, please, unless it is tears, which anyone can handle. Deal with your snot and anything else you expel from your body in private. Thank you!

    • Eileen

      And by the way it is my recent study of Microbiology and Pathology which has led to my being completely grossed out by the ever-present witness of expulsion of bodily fluids in public. Seriously folks, get a room…preferably the loo. Cover and wash up! You may not mind being sick and blowing snot everywhere but the rest of us would like not to live like that. THANK YOU!

  4. Elizabeth Setum

    I really feel for you! I think it is incredibly rude to blow one’s nose at the table. If I feel a mucus emergency coming I will excuse myself and leave the room. To not do so is to jeopardize the appetite of others at the table. It seems that it’s not his lack of manners that is the big problem, but that he refuses to honor your wishes. I think marriage counseling is the next step.

  5. Kathleen

    Ick! Blowing/wiping at the table is acceptable only if there is no one to observe it. There are emergencies, such as the unexpected sneeze or the sudden runny nose if one has a cold or has eaten spicy food that may necessitate a swipe or the use of a napkin — but then one should excuse oneself, take care of it and wash their hands before returning. My stepmother blows at the table, then digs in her nostrils with the already-overused tissue, and I highly recommend her presence at meals for those trying to lose weight. To me, it is the indoor equivalent of spitting on the sidewalk.

    • Eileen

      I have a room-mate who blows her nose seemingly 24/7, loud honk no problem, but will do right over the salad or casserole, or over my computer keyboard, or while she cuts the bread. GGGGHHHHHAAAAAAAA!!!!! How do I convince her that not all of the snot mist lands in the hanky and that it is disgusting to blow in the kitchen and then serve food with those same hands? Her lack of hand hygiene means she gets about ten “colds’ a year, and I usually get one of them as a special gift from her, probably on my food. Folks, PLEASE don’t blow around food or in the kitchen for any reason. Wash your hands after you blow for Pete’s sake. And if you have to blow 2700 times per day, go to the doc and get this taken care of. I AM SO GROSSED OUT by the constant witness of personal body fluid expulsion! Take it into the bathroom please and WASH YOUR HANDS! Apparently you don’t mind being sick but I DO!!!!

  6. Colette

    Blowing nose at table — ALL etiquette classes and reading I have done have said “Never.” No little puff or anything to blow at table.
    For any personal hygiene work it is so simple to quietly excuse one’s self to the rest room….BLOW, WASH HANDS, CHECK MIRROR, RETURN. Two minutes, tops.
    Say, if one has such a stuffy, drippy nose, why go to the table to share the germs anyway.

  7. Kerry

    I invited a friend over to a dinner party for the first time a few weeks ago. My entire family and a few close friends were there. During dinner she pulled out a tissue 4 times and proceeded to blow her nose. It was loud and this horrible gurgling sound was made each time she expelled snot from her nose. If that wasn’t bad enough, she didn’t wash her hands and continued to dish out food, touching all the serving utensils. People were disgusted and barely ate…it was Easter dinner. Needless to say, our friendship has cooled. I can barely look at her.
    It was also a blind date with a man she had asked me to introduce her to. They were hitting it off before she started to eat. She can’t understand what went wrong.

    • Lori C

      If your friend asks you for advice, I don’t see how it would hurt anything to gently let her know some were put off with her blowing her nose at the table instead of excusing herself and washing her hands afterward. I also don’t think, as host, it would have been incorrect of you to excuse yourself and discreetly show your friend the nearest powder room.

  8. jackie

    My best friend blows her nose several times during dinner. It turns my stomach. My brother, who dines with us often, is disgusted by this also. However, I don’t know how to tell her that it isn’t just me, but most people, who find this habit totally ugh! I believe her grown children are put off by it, as well as her other friends; but no one wants to be the one to tell her. I believe that she would think that I’m just persnickity if I said something. What can I do? This has been driving me nuts for ages.

    • Lori C

      Jackie, I suggest you speak with your friend when you are not dining together. It is OK to let her know her blowing her nose during a meal is off putting. Ask her if she has seen a doctor for her condition. If she makes excuses ask her to consider over the counter remedies. Your last suggestion would be to ask her to excuse herself from the table. If she refuses all suggestions, I’m not sure I would dine with her any longer.

  9. Gretchen

    I would first like to thank everyone for their posts. I haven’t laughed so hard in years. Seriously, tears – and snot – all profusely running together. Thank Dog I was not at the table while reading this column! – I’d have to excuse myself to execute a tissue rescue – in the bathroom!!
    But I am here – like you – because I occasionally dine with a male friend who loves to imbibe his nose-blowing behavior at the table which just makes me tremble in fear for my food. I’m terrified that a honker is going to miss the tissue completely and land in my food. I HAVE seen a fly-by upon occasion. I have recently decided to keep the menu while dining so that I can erect a protective meal barrier at the appropriate time – pretend to be looking at another menu item maybe while the blowing is going on? He doesn’t even turn his head. But I am with you all who are grossed out to the point of vomiting with the churling, gurgling, hacking, snuffling, snortling, nasal unnicities coming like an erupting volcano from my dining partner. The digging to the point of tonsil massage with the thread-bare and failing tissue is enough to make me have to turn away myself as I’m afraid I’m going to start gagging and lose my half-eaten meal. There is almost nothing more frightening than being in the direct line of a full-blowing nasally-stuffed large man honking away oblivious to the fearful disgust he is creating in his dining partner.

    I, too, am single. And I kid you not, one of the reasons I chose not to continue a relationship with a man (in my past) is because of this exact issue. I just simply could not conceive of spending my life with a person who blows and blows and blows while dining. But there is more to this particular true story. Let me explain. In Colorado, land of skiing, numerous male skiers, including the ski patrol, find it difficult to manage tissues along with ski gloves and poles. And with freezing temperatures while skiing, the nose runs. So what I’m about to tell you is, on some level, somewhat understandable (the managing the tissue part). It is commonplace for men (I have only seen men do this) while riding the chair lift, to turn their head to the side (so as to not dirty themselves), close the left nostril with the left hand (to create maximum blow power), take a deep breath and blow as hard as one can to expel the nasal contents of the right nostril. Just let her rip. The next part is to do the same with the right hand expelling the left nostril contents. I have often wondered about the poor skiing public underneath the lifts, .. omg. But this is not the end of this little story. “My Guy”, . . the one I was dating . . thought this maneuver was just simply the way to do it so he adopted this nose-blowing style for daily use. Let me add here another aspect to this story. “Bob”, the boyfriend, also very proudly chose to keep a neatly trimmed mustache. But he trimmed it in such a way that it stuck out from the upper lip like stiff little guard-hairs a la Wimpy from Popeye cartoons. I think you can anticipate by now where I am going with this. And it’s all true, I kid you not. So . . .when Bob blew using the one-side-closed-nostril-blow-your-brains-out technique, the nasal content didn’t always make it over the barrier of bristles barricading his upper lip. Not only was I barely able to look at him, but when he leaned forward for a kiss – not having checked himself in a mirror – I could not contain my own bodily recoil.
    The absolute kicker of this nasal nastiness was a New Year’s Eve party he hosted at his home. About 30 people or so with a nice turkey dinner served at midnight. “Bob” loved to do the cooking. I thoroughly enjoyed the party visiting with folks until Bob came round to say hello and lean in for a kiss. He had obviously been blowing at some point in the party because there, cantilevered like a warm moist worm, on his upper mustache-covered lip, was the gut-wrenching sinus slug. As I backed-away in self-defense I told him that he needed to go look in the mirror – immediately. I had no idea how long he had been calmly, suavely, holding his drink while casually circulating chatting up party guests while wearing this accoutrement .

    As with Carol, above, I had mentioned this truly disgusting behavior to him before. To no avail. I had once found in his bureau drawers embroidered handkerchief’s with his initials on them, never opened or used. Obviously some other girlfriend had tried to address the issue.

    This man, like others mentioned in this column, also thought it was appropriate to blow his nasal acclumulate into the cloth napkin at restaurants (having at least the “good manners” to not perform the one-nostril-free-blow method indoors while fine-dining). I could only think of the poor waitperson who had to pick up after our meal. They don’t wear gloves, you know, so as not to offend the dining patrons. A big tip doesn’t seem to balance out the gooey napkin in my opinion (and he was also notoriously cheap).

    As with poor Carol, above, I could not seem to get through to this man. He, like Carol’s husband, was the Executive Director of an organization. I could not get through to him how abhorrently offensive his nasal habits were. And he wondered incessantly why our sex life became nonexistant. Vomiting and sex just can’t coexist within my body. As one might imagine, our relationship deteriorated quickly after the New Years Eve party. He is still single. So, thankfully, am I.

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