Appreciating some old-school civility at the Broadmoor
colorado springs» try to avoid the word “ironic” because it is so often misused, but when a shouting match breaks out during an etiquette class, I’m going to say it fits.
The “Minding Your Ps and Qs” class was just wrapping up in the Broadmoor’s stately Penrose Room when one of fathers called out another about his son’s “rude behavior” — which included talking over and interrupting the instructor all the while bouncing up and down on the upholstered gold-framed chairs.
Of course, that instructor, a patient young man named Travis Molinari, who serves as sommelier and supervisor in the Penrose Room, wasn’t the least ruffled as he continued with his napkin-folding demonstration.
And though I crossed paths with the other class members repeatedly throughout our stay, the troublemakers were never to be seen again. (Maybe they were at one of the resort’s remote fishing cabins for further etiquette training.)
After all, there is a certain way to behave at Colorado’s bastion of refinement.
My family headed to the Broadmoor’s Thanksgiving weekend because, like a lot of people, my husband, two daughters and I found ourselves in need of some civility this fall. The mega-resort/golf course is the pinnacle of politeness. Visitors leave the noisy world behind when stepping into its marble halls with chandeliers twinkling
Ioverhead and air scented with fresh bouquets. The castle-like fortress, with heavy velvet draperies to shut out the outside world, has been an escape to the time of European court life for nearly 100 years.
It’s a place where you need never open your own door, where gentlemen tip their hat and a lady never feels overdressed (at any time of day, people just assume you are heading to an event in one of the resort’s many ballrooms).
Is it old school? Absolutely. But sometimes a return to a more well-mannered time is just what a person needs to get away from the trials of modern life.
The new etiquette class is just one of the ways the Broadmoor is reviving the golden age of politeness. A couple’s waltzing class and a family ballroom dancing class have also been added to the resort’s offering of free classes, which ranges from fly fishing to bowling to yoga.
Although we have house rules about how to behave around the table at home, I thought we would kick up our daughters’ etiquette education to a higher level — and let them hear about manners from someone other than their parents for a change.
I knew we had made the right choice when I read my daughter’s notes in her careful fourthgrade cursive:
•Work your way in for the silverware.
•No blowing on food when it’s hot.
•Never take the first piece of bread.
•Be the first to start a conversation if others are struggling.
Although the list went on for two pages, the statement on the front of our “Dining Etiquette” handbook sums up the purpose of the course: “To display courtesy to others no matter what the situation.”
As for the need for etiquette, manners guru Judith Martin explains it this way: “Etiquette is all human social behavior. It matters because we want to live in reasonably harmonious communities.”
Some would argue there is no need for the formalities they teach at the Broadmoor, because hardly anybody plays by such strict rules anymore. That might be true, but maybe more of us should.
I can tell you it was very pleasing to sit down at brunch the next day and know what to do with all the silverware and glasses set in front of us. And it was an amusing exercise to have my husband stand up every time one of us got up from or arrived back at the table. He got in a miniworkout, and we all felt special.
It’s the same way people feel special every time the door is held open for them, instead of swinging shut in their face.
Because it’s nice to be noticed in a busy world, my family is committed to bringing some of the polite calm of the Broadmoor home with us. The true test will be if I can stop a shouting match from breaking out over who gets the first piece of bread at dinner. Chryss Cada is a freelance journalist and Colorado State University adjunct professor based in Fort Collins. Find her on the web at chryss.com.
A young girl takes notes in an etiquette class at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.