CINCINNATI -- The word etiquette rings old-fashioned in the modern ear, likely conjuring a scene of elbow-length gloves, full-skirted gowns and processions of increasingly minuscule cutlery.
Dina Schmid, founder of Queen City Etiquette, wants to brush the dust off that picture, trading the ball gowns for business suits and reintroducing an appreciation for manners into the mainstream.
Almost no one today goes to finishing school or worries about impressing the aristocracy, but everyone can benefit from learning the best way to present themselves to others, she said.
"Our table manners, our etiquette, all of that is a reflection of our character, and we're judged by that," Schmid said.
She held her first adult etiquette class at the Symphony Hotel and Restaurant this month, teaching her group of students not just the technical elements of eating a formal meal -- which spoon to pick up first, what to do with one's napkin -- but also how to converse with their partners at the same time. (Not while eating, obviously. Rule one!)
"There are times now when you go into an interview and it's over food or over a meal," Ryan Higgins, who attended the class, said. "I wanted to gain a little confidence going into aspects like that. One of the coolest things (we learned) was how control a conversation."
Schmid, a certified etiquette consultant, said her friends and family members in other states participate in events such as etiquette classes and debutante cotillion, but she found Cincinnati lacking in equivalent events.
"I realized, if I was going to have classes for my children, I had to be the one to create those classes," she said.
Anyone who thinks their own manners could use a polish can sign up for classes online. The class includes a four-course meal with salad, soup, an entree and dessert -- and, yes, an abundance of cutlery. Don't worry. By the end, Schmid said, you'll feel like a pro.