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In today’s post, guest columnist Coco McCann weighs in on an etiquette faux pas brought to us by a Dressed Her Days Vintage reader: mistreating a waitress.

Dear Coco,

I need your advice. My boyfriend and I were out to dinner with another couple. When the check arrived, he convinced the waitress to give it to him, put an arm around her waist, pulled her close and thanked her for letting him treat his friends. I didn’t mind him treating, but I was shocked at his behavior towards the waitress. He is normally a perfect gentleman, but he’d had a few drinks by then. The whole scene embarrassed me. His behavior made him seem like a lecherous jerk. I called him out and insisted he make a return visit to apologize, but he assured me that he gave her a generous tip. He agreed that his behavior was out of line, but felt no apology was necessary. Should I excuse his behavior? What do you think?–Aghast in Alabama

Dear Aghast in Alabama,

I see your predicament. You feel that your boyfriend’s bad manners are a reflection upon you. Au contraire, my friend. I’m assuming that your boyfriend is an adult. If so, his actions are his and his alone. He may indeed be a nice guy, but his poor judgment leaves him open for closer inspection. Is he really the man you think he is? He may not be a jerk, but he behaved for all the world to the contrary. A generous tip is not a license to be disrespectful toward a waiter or waitress. Ever!

This unfortunate incident is the best possible reason I can imagine for not consuming alcohol, or, at a minimum, for learning to practice moderation. Inebriation squelches good judgment and good manners. It can also cause irreparable harm to a good reputation. One’s companions are left with no choice but to wonder, “Did he mean what he said/did or was it just the alcohol?” In either case, the answer is unpleasant at best.

There is never a good reason for a patron to touch a waiter or waitress. Where an intimate or familiar relationship does not exist, there should be no touching. To do so can seem patronizing and/or threatening to others. Wherever we go, the way we treat people who serve us says something enormously important about our relationship to others. Should we behave as if our conduct doesn’t matter because someone holds the position of serving our needs? Does such a position make a person a lesser human being? Of course not!

The fact that your boyfriend recognizes his error is a positive sign that he is willing to take responsibility for his behavior. Whether he does that by apologizing (preferably in person as a sober man) or not is not your decision to make. Instead, you should focus on choices that DO belong to you: whether you might enjoy the opportunity of being his etiquette monitor for the rest of your life.

If not, perhaps you should consider ending your social ties with this gentleman. But before you do so, please suggest that he read Modern Manners: Tools to Take You to the Top, by Dorothea Johnson and Liv Tyler. It’s geared toward young professionals who want to feel more confident about their social skills and manners. Whatever your boyfriend’s age, it sounds like he could benefit from further instruction that could make a lasting improvement on his behavior.

Do you have a vexing question about modern manners? If so, send them to Coco coco [at] dressedherdaysvintage [dot] com. Her opinions only appear when readers submit relevant etiquette questions. Without you, her columns will be few and far between.

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.