Monday, April 29, 2013

Sharon's 'stone (Part I)

My titles are getting out of hand.  

Sharon Rose was one of a large contingent of ladies who went to Keystone this year.  Meg was not.

Sharon's been in this blog about a dozen times: I posted her 2012 Keystone experience, I mentioned her at one of the soirees,  we had dinner together and met with Cynthia at her new digs about a year ago.

Sharon was kind enough to once again write up her experience at Keystone.  I'm posting it unedited, except for splitting it into two parts.

The 2013 Keystone Conference:  Bigger and Better Than Before
By Sharon Rose

This was my fifth year attending the Keystone Conference in Harrisburg, which is organized by TranscentralPA, the Transgender Education Association of Central Pennsylvania.  The conference has grown in size each year.  This year they had over 500 attendees, and added some new seminars.  As always, they had interesting and inspirational speakers and fun outings.

One seminar which I really enjoyed was Feminine Dining Comportment, which was given by Monica Prata, who is a feminine image consultant.  Monica works with transgender women to help them improve their confidence.  She has experience as a M.A.C. makeup artist and also worked at Nordstrum.

Several of us met in the restaurant for lunch and had bread and salad while Monica gave us some pointers about how to act when dining out.  Some of the advice was her personal opinion, while most of it can be found in standard etiquette guides.

First, you should dress appropriately for the type of food you expect to eat.  You should avoid wearing a white blouse when you expect to eat messy food like barbeque or pasta. But you can pack Shout wipes or other stain removers in your purse for emergencies.

When entering a building women generally do not stand on the outside and hold the door open for a man or another woman.  They might hold the door behind them after entering for a second or two to be polite when someone is right behind them.

She suggested removing your coat in the lobby of the restaurant, because sometimes tables are close together.  Fold your jacket over your arm and keep it in front of you.  Keep your elbows close to your body as you walk through the restaurant.  This will allow you to avoid bumping into other patrons.

When you arrive at your table, you can hang your purse over your chair if it has a long strap, or keep it on the seat behind you, or you can use a purse clip to hang it off the edge of the table.

You can put your coat on the inside of your chair, instead of the outside, in case you get cold during the meal.  If the coat is extra long, you can fold it over the back of the chair.

You can let the host/hostess pull out your chair for you if they offer.  When you sit down, be sure to smooth the bottom of your dress or skirt. Then sit, put your hands on the side of the chair, and scoot your chair forward.  She suggested that you not sit with your back against the back of the chair.  If you lean forward a bit, you can create an S-curve with your body, which is more visually appealing.  Also, do not sit squarely on both feet.  Keep you legs together; you can cross them at the ankles or lean them slightly to one side or the other.

She suggested ordering salad dressing on the side, since it can be messy to eat in some places depending on the type and amount of dressing.

Try to repeat the waiters name to remember it in case you need to ask them for something.  If your food was prepared incorrectly you can kindly explain to them what is wrong.

Food and other items should be passed around the table to the right, or counter-clockwise.  I have heard it said that the salt and pepper shakers are married and should always be passed together – even if the request was for only one. A kinder way to deal with that is to ask whether they also want the other.

I think this should also apply to coffee creamer and sugar/artificial sweetener.  I would offer to pass both even if someone asked only for one.

(more tomorrow)

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