A Digital Feast

Dear Annabel Manners, 
Whenever we go out to eat, my girlfriend sits across from me sending instant messages and emails throughout the entire meal. I say it’s rude to use handhelds in restaurants. She rolls her eyes and says everybody else is doing it. Who wins? 
— J.T., Brentwood
Dear J.T., 
Technology in restaurants? Mon dieu! It’s one thing to dash off a message while you’re waiting for takeout at Baja Fresh. It’s quite another to hunt and peck your way through dinner at the Ivy
Emailing during a civilized meal is disrespectful to the person sitting on the other side of the table, your fellow diners, and your humble chef. Even in Los Angeles. Ditto for dialing and receiving cell phone calls at the table. If a gadget beckons (and I do hope it’s on vibrate), simply excuse yourself, attend to the matter outside, and scurry back as soon as possible. 
If your girlfriend can’t abide the outdoor rule, I suggest you confiscate the vile thing and turn it off, at least until everyone at the table has finished eating. 
Graciously yours, 
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