When dining in public, it can sometimes be difficult to remember basic etiquette. Do we eat the pork chop with a knife and fork, or is it OK to use toes? How loud is too loud to scream the National Anthem during the fish course? Weapons—yes or no?

At Gothamist, we understand the difficulty of avoiding embarrassing restaurant faux pas, and have therefore assembled a guide to help you navigate the tricky, unpredictable waters of eating in public or before an audience.

Do Not Use Your Pants or Bare Knees as a Napkin

You may think of pants as napkins that wrap around your legs, and skin as a sprawling, contiguous napkin that not only prevents blood from falling out of your body, but also makes a great material for absorbing burger grease. These things may be true, but that doesn't mean you should employ either as a napkin in polite company, or any company. If your place setting does not come furnished with a napkin, kindly request one from your host or get one yourself. They are by the ketchup dispensers.

Chew with Your Mouth Closed

There are only two occasions in which you should open your mouth while eating: 1) To take another bite of food. 2) To show your dining companion what chewed-up hummus looks like. (THE SAME, IT'S CRAZY.) Otherwise, your lips should be tightly sealed for the duration of the mastication process.

While we're on the topic of Mouth Behavior, please also do not smack your lips or chew excessively loudly. Unless you're eating something crunchy, like fresh kale or bones, the activities occurring within the four walls of your mouth should be basically muted, not exceeding the sound of a spider sighing or your own heartbeat during mild cardio.

No Phones

Not to be a dad about this, but pulling your phone out at the table signifies to your dining companion that you are so utterly bored by their company that you would rather trawl the Tinder wasteland than sit across from them. If you are, in fact, bored to the brink of mania by your date, here is what to do: Suffer through the duration of the meal, using them as test subjects to workshop your best Dinner Jokes for future dining encounters you actually care about. Then never see them again!

Seriously, keep your fucking phone put away. If you really can't stand the thought of parting ways with your third favorite Apple product for an hour, ply your interlocutor with beverages. They'll have to pee eventually.

One Instagram Per Person Per Meal

The only exceptions to this rule are:

- The dish is on fire
- The dish was served alive, and dies over the course of the meal
- The dish either loses or gains mass over the course of the meal
- Your meal is occurring at a Rainforest Cafe

Put Your Napkin On Your Lap

Once sullied, your napkin becomes a horrible rag used to absorb your food detritus. No one wants to stare at your grease-smeared filth towel. Extra points if you drape it over your knee the moment you sit down. Remember, correct napkin usage is truly the only thing that separates us from animals.

Eavesdrop Politely

Eavesdropping is the spice of eating out, but it must be done subtly. This means pretending at least perfunctorily to be doing something else, which, if you're with someone, means speaking to them, and if you're alone, means staring aggressively at a wall-hanging or passing car. Do not look at the speakers to whom you are listening, and for chrissakes, do not join the conversation.

Use Your Indoor Voices

Sometimes, you get excited about your discussion. This is great! We're all occasionally guilty of this: Once, I was sharing a story about my friend's new BDSM relationship with such zeal and excitable hand gestures that the couple seated next to me asked to be moved. (Look, I was not aware of this at the time, so invested was I in the telling of my own story, but to that couple: I am sorry if I ruined your brunch burger but seriously, this is New York, if I can't use the phrase "anal beads" over a mimosa at 11 o'clock on a Sunday, where can I?)

The point is that while you might think your own conversation is the most important in the world, other people think the same thing about theirs and would prefer them not being intruded upon by the sound of your voice. Or perhaps the person next to you is dining alone, and would like to read their book or contemplate their recent breakup in something that resembles a peaceful atmosphere. This is their right.

Don't Be A Seat Hog

Hey, are you using that chair? Be honest. Your feet do not need it. Your purse does not need it. Your "friend" who you invented does not need it; he can stand. Give up the chair.

The Check

Congratulations, you've made it through your meal! But oh no, what to do about the check?

If eating out was your proposal, you should offer to pay the check. If it was not your proposal but you're adamant about splitting, insist on splitting as many times as required for you to get your way. ("No, really, I also insist," is a good phrase.)

If your interest in splitting is nominal, reach for the check very, very slowly, giving your dining companion ample to time to take it first. "Are you sure, oh well thank you so much!" you should say quickly, effectively terminating further discussion on the topic.

If you are adamant about paying, look dead into the eyes of your companion and tell them they can pay for the next thing you do together. If they are determined to split it (see above), sigh heavily and let them have their way. You probably won't see them again anyway.

For more on how to refine your inner Eliza Doolittle, refer to the time Gothamist's Rebecca Fishbein took an etiquette class.