Q. All right. My sweetie and I are out to eat on a date. We are seated at a square table with four chairs. My companion sits down first, of course. Where do I sit?
A. Interesting you should ask. We just conducted a survey of my radio audience on this very matter. A majority said that they prefer to sit across from their dates. This, however, runs counter to the traditional etiquette, in which the person playing the male role should sit to the right of the person playing the female role. Except at very formal dinners, however, this rule is pretty much null and void.
Instead, we now have a system in which the seating has become an indicator of the state of the relationship. If all things are in harmony, then the classic etiquette is observed. If there is some tension, the members of the couple sit across from one another. If the romance is returning from a dip in affections, the masculine person may be seen sitting at the left of the feminine person.
You didn’t ask, but a different set of rules entirely is in force when the table is wider than long, and two seats are on each side. Again, however, we get a sort of mood-ring-style emotional reading. Fortunately, it’s more obvious. Lovey-dovey couples sit next to one another, never across. Unless they’re both really fat.
It’s all pretty silly, isn’t it? But the waiter just arrived to take the order, so let’s get on with it.