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You Shouldn't Do That At The Table

Updated on May 11, 2011

Have you ever blown your nose at the table?

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Throughout my life, I’ve known people who constantly have a stuffy nose. Whether it is a cold they can’t shake or lifelong allergies, the nose just won’t unblock. When they are hungry, they must decide between eating and breathing. If one airway is too stuffed to work properly, using the other passage to eat with is a definite risk. Usually, they will do something about their nose before sitting down to eat. However, this is not always the case.

I have had people blow their nose at the table while dining with me. While it is always rude, there are times when I can excuse it more easily than others. These would be the times when necessity matters more than manners.

For example, let’s say that you have a kitchen/dining room table that doesn’t have open space on each side. You’re having company over and the table is packed. You accidentally put your relative with sinus problem in the chair that is closest to the wall. In order for them to get up, they would either have to tell their hard of hearing aunt to let them by or get on all fours and crawl under the table. After repeatedly asking their aunt to let them pass, their nose becoming more and more of a problem, they pull out their handkerchief and blow. It is not polite, but, in this case, it is understandable. In my opinion, it’s more polite than crawling between your uncle’s legs.

On the other hand, there are times when getting up to blow your nose is possible and should be done. You’re dining out with an overly emotional friend. She has just broken up with her boyfriend and can’t seem to stop crying. As your meals arrive, you see her reach for a napkin. She’s going to blow her nose. The sound of the wet snot is going to make you sick to your stomach and all of the money you’re spending on this meal is going to be wasted. You want to be a compassionate friend. At the same time, you have an incredibly sensitive gag reflex. Would it have killed her to excuse herself and blow it in the bathroom?

I’m one of those people who wouldn’t blow her nose or scratch an itch in public even if it meant I was going to explode. I know that my manners are a tad old fashioned, but the idea of breaking from them makes me feel uncomfortable. However, I’m not going to publicly or privately call someone out on their bad behavior because I think that’s rude. I’m not their mother and will not reprimand them. If they got to adulthood not knowing what was improper and proper, I can’t change them now. Besides, with all of the problems in the world, is it really right to center on something as minor as blowing one’s nose in the wrong location?


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    • LowellWriter profile image

      L.A. Walsh 8 years ago from Lowell, MA

      I agree, LG. As I said colds and allergies are always an exception for me.

    • LondonGirl profile image

      LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

      I agree with you about blowing your nose at a dinner table - yuck. But in public in other circumstances can be OK - if someone has a streaming cold, it's not going to be realistic for him to leave his desk at work and go to the loo every 2 minutes to blow his nose.

    • LowellWriter profile image

      L.A. Walsh 8 years ago from Lowell, MA

      Thanks, Tamarii! :o)

    • profile image

      Tamarii2 8 years ago


    • LowellWriter profile image

      L.A. Walsh 8 years ago from Lowell, MA

      Thank you for your comment. :o)

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 8 years ago from Delaware

      You took the words right out of my mouth Lowellwriter. At least now I know WHY people do it. My husband and I have often wondered why so many show such bad manners at the table, so thank you for giving me some insight on the why of it. Still it is very disgusting to me, and I do wish folks would stop it. Thanks for a good article.