You’ve all “enjoyed” a handful of recipes and explanations of vomit-inducing dishes, so I guess it’s time to lay down the law. I don’t know what dinner was like at your house, but if you grew up in the ’70s you probably can relate to at least a few of these rules.
Every family member had their place at the dinner table. If a set of Grandparents came to visit, the two youngest kids were demoted to the tiny kid’s table in the corner. It was oompa loompa-sized and fit Coleen and Melissa—and sometimes me, too, if an extra friend or relative showed up.
We could take a pass on some of these rules if guests showed up, but otherwise we had to mind our manners. We learned early not to yell, sing, fidget or anything else at the table, because for crying out loud that would drown out the TV set and Dad would need to calm his nerves by pouring more Heinz ketchup on his plate. Of course, I’m exaggerating (not really) because sometimes even Dad would sing at the table. He won’t admit it, but he has a groovy Lou Rawls-type of voice and was actually offered a singing contract in his younger days. However, you’ll have to attend one of our family reunions or weddings where the Oly is flowing freely to experience that songbird.
So every night at about 5:30 we had to fall in line and sit down, shut up and eat—even if it was Friday Night Casserole. And while sitting down to dinner at our house, we had to abide by the following rules:
1. You must eat at least one tablespoon of the vegetable. If you don’t like it that’s fine, but Mom says you HAVE to try it. Of course, your younger sister (reference: Coleen), will be able to take a pass on creamed corn.
2. Do NOT laugh when your older sister (reference: Tracy) spills her milk. (Occurrence rate: once per week.)
3. If eating soup, be careful of your homemade towel bib!! No sudden moves!! Mom has tied it behind your neck and placed it under the soup bowl to take care of any excess spillage!
4. One more thing about soup: If you feel sick and throw up into your soup bowl (reference: Lisa) it’s a Catch 22. Mom will be proud of you for containing the mess, but Dad will be so disgusted he won’t be able to stomach another bite until his Jello 1-2-3 dessert later in the evening.
5. Do NOT mention blood or guts at the dinner table (see rule #4).
6. Tell Mom the food is delicious. Or at least say it’s not bad. She has slaved over a hot stove all day you know, and she deserves some appreciation. If the food sucks, tell her the blouse she is wearing is especially groovy.
7. Finish your plate. There are starving children in China you know (at least, that’s what they told us in the ‘70s). If you leave anything, be prepared to see that leftover plate of food the next day at breakfast. And don’t even THINK about asking for instant chocolate pudding later in the evening.
8. Do not monopolize the dinner conversation, and make sure you are not boring your Dad. He will be especially irritated if two or more people are talking at the same time, hence drowning out the sound of “Star Trek” coming from the living room television set. You will know all the banter has gotten out of hand if your baby sister (reference: Melissa) has set her plate on the floor for the dog and is resting her head on the edge of the table reciting, “My head’s cut off, my head’s cut off.”