Dear Etiquetteer: I am sending you a photo of one of my colleagues who has put his feet up on a table where people are going to eat! What can I say to this man to get him to behave. It's so rude!
Your plea reminds Etiquetteer of the plight of a well-known German singer who toured the American Southwest at some point in the late 19th Century. Finding a cowpoke's boot-shod feet between the footlights one night, she interrupted her lazy glissandi to ask his name and whether or not he was in show business. Learning that he was not, in fact, in show business, she rose to her full height, declaimed "THEN WHY DON'T YOU GET YOUR [untranslatable] FEET OFF THE STAGE?" and kicked him completely to the floor. Thus did Lili von Shtupp* make her mark in the annals of saloon entertainment.**
Cognoscenti of this column will know that Etiquetteer is rather well acquainted with this man and has had to remonstrate with him on a few occasions about his behavior. What's even more astonishing than his rumpled, self-important fatigue seen here is that the book at right is Cleveland Amory's The Proper Bostonians. As Celeste Talbert famously asked, "How in the name of God is it possible?"
You would certainly be within the bounds of Perfect Propriety to tell your colleague that his feet need to move, especially with the impending arrival of food, as often as need be until the feet are removed. And Etiquetteer knows for a fact that he wiped down that portion of the table. Let's just hope it doesn't happen again.
*The second P would indicate that Fraulein von Shtupp was from the Bavarian branch of the family.
** Cognoscenti will also recognize that this little anecdote comes from the Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles.