Thursday, December 10, 2009

Miss Manners

I remember sitting at a table during a Young Men/Young Women activity (Mutual, back then...), and watching in horror as my table mates barbarically tore through dinner. We were supposed to be learning how to eat at a fancy dinner. They were all hunched over their plates, shoveling food into their gaping mouths, and at some tables were shouting and throwing dinner rolls, and I wouldn't be surprised if the napkins were used as weapons or bandannas. I was trying really hard to look at my plate, sit up straight, and chew exactly 28 times before swallowing. I had an overactive sense of dignity back then.



At one point, someone at the table looked at me and said, "Wow, look at Dara...she's so proper." I am not sure it was meant as a compliment, but I would like to think it was. In my imagination, the tone was a mix of envy and contempt. At least they didn't start throwing rolls at me.


I was really careful after I started dating (and up until I got married) about eating daintily as to not scare off any potential spouses. Unfortunately, when I got into college, I only had 10 minutes between classes to eat lunch, so eating politely was sometimes sacrificed by necessity. The need for speed embedded itself into my psyche, and I have been a fast eater ever since. It's handy, but semi-embarrassing. Over Thanksgiving, I ate my pumpkin pie in 15 seconds flat. Missy, who was standing next to me with her piece of pie (and had, incidentally only taken one bite of pie), turned to me to say something and exclaimed, "Whoa! You ate that fast!" But, then again, pumpkin pie is my favorite, so it could have been a mixture of speed and greed. Yum, yum, yum...


When I was in the hospital with Lily, I made sure to eat my food quickly, and then stacked the dishes nicely and covered everything with the dish dome.
A nurse commented on it.

"You are a very efficient eater!"
I smiled, a little more than smug.

"Most of the other new mothers take a really long time to eat," she said, shaking her head.

I replied, still smug, "Well, if I don't eat fast, I might not get to eat at all, what with three kids."

She agreed and then gave me some drugs.


A friend came to visit us in the hospital during dinner time. He didn't say anything about how fast I ate, but apparently he noted it, because at one point he pointed at my stomach and said, "What are you going to do about that." I apparently lost my sense of dignity some years back because I looked at him and stated flatly, "That is my uterus." He looked mortified. I then threw a dinner roll at him and towel snapped him with my napkin.


I was thinking of all these things this morning as I struggled to get any breakfast. Between a preschooler, toddler, and newborn, I was scrambling to shuffle people to the potty, into clean clothes, to the table for breakfast (I managed to get them fed by 10 AM), and in bed after nursing...and then I had 2 minutes to fix myself breakfast (Which I got around to doing at 11 AM), AND make lunch, get people organized and clean up the house. I sat down, finally, and casually nibbled on my food. Then, like clockwork, insanity broke loose. The phone started ringing, Lily started crying, and I was hunched over my plate, shoveling food into my gaping mouth, while my children shouted that "THE BABY IS CRYING!!", and I think I only managed to chew my food once or twice (some of the grapes went down whole, I think, because I don't remember chewing them), before running to rescue my baby and answer the phone...which, of course, stopped ringing after I managed to grab it.


I don't feel smug anymore. I am just grateful any time I can sit and eat normally, which isn't often.


Maybe all of this will make me skinny...?

6 comments:

Bethany said...

The weight loss plan of a mother of 3. Yikes. I'd almost rather exercise. Almost.

Rebecca said...

When your children get older you will demand "decompression time" - which my children usually forget about 30 seconds later and then I give Victor "the look". "Hey! You have been sitting around for several hours - I just got home and I can't even sit down and take a moment for myself!"

This usually happens after a long day at work and then a couple of college education.

Victor and the kids give me stunned looks. By that point my eyes are welling up and then Victor tells the kids to leave me alone.

Katscratchme said...

Ben and I learned to eat quickly back when we were dating. He had an hour for lunch and I had half an hour. It took him 15 minutes to get to me, we'd eat lunch in 15 minutes and spend 15 minutes snogging in the parking lot. Then he'd spend the last 15 minutes of his lunch racing back to work. :)
Good times.

Zaphod said...

Everyone makes fun of me too, but while I was in the military, we had less than fifteen minutes to get a trayfull of food down. After we had a large family, I ate quickly in self-defense, so I coul;d leave before the food-fight started.

Trillium said...

As usual Zaphod has to make things up (like the food fight) because he really can't remember.

I also remember having a bunch of little kids and my not getting dressed or having breakfast until about lunch time... It will get better.

Rebecca said...

dad tells lots of stories!

It will get better - probably after they have left for college. :)

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