HELEN’S ANSWER: Unless you have an appointment immediately following dinner and you have told your group that you have to watch the time so you won’t be late or have an emergency telephone call you need to make, it is very rude to continue checking your watch OR your cell phone during dinner with acquaintances or friends or family members.
GUEST’S ANSWER: Mary McReynolds, book author: One should be discreet when checking one’s watch at social events and invisible using cell phones in public. In my opinion, cell phones should be used for emergencies only and left in the car while attending social functions, especially a lovely dinner that hosts have taken the time and effort to prepare.
The level of rudeness among many “cell-ists” is becoming epidemic and also dangerous on the road, with drivers juggling keypads the size of lipstick tubes. Also, trust me: No one wants to hear cellphone users cataloguing, broadcasting and otherwise proclaiming their presence in stores while shopping.
Good sense and good manners should accompany the use of cellphones. The worst is to hear the things go off in church. Put the mobile phones away when in public. And if you want to discuss, I’ll only be too glad to text you. :)
Signed, Mary McReynolds, Cellmudgeon of the first order
Callie Gordon is 20-something; Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s; and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. You’ll also find a guest answer. To ask an etiquette question, email email@example.com. For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to blog.newsok.com/partiesextra.