Story by Sara Smith | Photography by Mieko Horikoshi
If Lynn Araki-Regan has her say, her Hawaii School of Etiquette will give a leg up to Maui’s next generation of leaders. It’s a newfound passion for this attorney-at-law: training kids ages three to twelve in the social graces, from successful small talk, to the anatomy of a thank-you note, to maneuvering through formal dining like a champ.
“People are constantly judging you. If you can convey that you are confident and comfortable, that gives you an edge,” Lynn asserts. I’m sold, and promptly enroll my seven-year-old daughter, Esta.
Lessons begin with the elements of a proper introduction: whom to name first, eye contact, handshake. Of some surprise to these Maui kids, referring to everyone older than you as “auntie” and “uncle” doesn’t pass muster everywhere. The kids melt into a puddle of giggles when it’s time to practice on each other. My daughter sits slumped in her chair, sulking.
Each class, Mrs. Araki-Regan bravely seats the youngsters at a formal dining table for lessons in mastering different utensils, properly passing the salt and pepper, civilized conduct and social cues. It’s like deciphering a secret language, and the kids are eating it up. [Pop quiz: Do you know the five uses for a cloth napkin? Hint: Do use it to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Don’t blow your nose with it. (The horror!)]