As it turns out, I am a monster.
Not only did I arrive at the Plaza for Myka Meier’s social and dining etiquette course five minutes late (I blame the R train), but I was also wearing a T-shirt, which, in a room of adults dressed in suitable prom attire, felt on par with arriving completely naked. I sat too close to the table (you should be 4 inches away, apparently) for easier access to the spread of hummus and cheese, which I learned I was not to consume until after I had placed it on the correct section of my plate (bottom right is for spreads and top left is for refuse like pits and cheese rinds). I dropped an olive, sliced the Gruyere at the wrong angle, and nearly knocked over my water glass while taking furious notes. Clearly, my upbringing in a cereal-for-dinner sort of household had not prepared me for this.
That’s where Myka Meier comes in. Meier is the founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, a contemporary finishing school stationed within Midtown’s Plaza Hotel, where she serves as the primary instructor at the helm of the program’s courses. And while it’s only natural to associate “etiquette” with ‘50s debutantes and Julie Andrews in The Princess Diaries, according to Meier, her curriculum is “not your grandmother’s etiquette.” In spite of her prestigious studies in Switzerland, and later in London as a mentee under a former member of The Royal Household of Her Majesty the Queen, her course is a little nuanced: It’s modern etiquette tailored to urban millennials -- New York millennials, in particular. In short, it’s intended to serve as something of a guiding light for those who dare to wear sweatpants to brunch, photograph their Smorgasburg snacks before consuming them, and claim an extra seat on the subway for their Strand totes.
I had enrolled myself in the course in an effort to determine whether or not I really could be saved from my millennial self by way of finishing school (which, as a 20-something native New Yorker, was allegedly catered specifically to me). If all went according to plan, by the end of the session, I would be the sort of poised New York woman who doesn't send a text saying “I’m three blocks away!” while still pantsless in my apartment.