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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Miss Manners Fights Back

While I’m not considered a prude by anyone except the examples of the species to whom I have given birth, I’m altogether a poor sport when it comes to food I will consume in public.

Unless I am in the company of dear friends who have known me long enough to identify the stains on my Riverbanks Zoo T-Shirt right down to the unsightly spot from the day we learned that the output of Lorikeets is greater than the input, or of family who is bound by the courts and/or the church to love me for better or for Waldorf salad, in sickness and in Heath bars, I’m not ordering anything that displays unlikely tendencies toward flinging sauces at random passersby.

Salads are particularly offensive in a social setting and should be regulated to over-the-sink binges indulged in while wearing particularly offensive pajamas destined for cleaning canary poop from the birdcage or grimy corners in the garage. Salads are filled with treacherous items that shoot streams of noxious juices into your eye when pierced with a sharp object, and difficult fibrous items that do not respond admirably to cutlery.

Likewise, I am not interested in consuming steaming dishes of noodles at, say, Sunday School gatherings because the first time an errant strand of fettuccine slaps my chin with a load of steaming Alfredo leaving a worm-shaped brand that will be with me til death do us part, I am altogether capable of comments that will guarantee excommunication on the spot. At the very least I'll be voted out of the covered dish dinner line.

On one ambitious jaunt to a local restaurant I couldn’t help but notice a young lady at a nearby table gather up more vegetation from her salad bowl than many farmers reap during a summer afternoon, and place the bales of foliage in her mouth with the same delicate flair usually reserved for swallowers of flaming swords. She was sitting with a young man who was engrossed in hand-dipping pieces of his French toast into the syrup swamp he cultivated in a nearby soup bowl. How have we raised a generation of young people who are passionate about a clean environment, but do not consider Mr. Knife and Mr. Fork their friend?

I watched in open-mouthed amazement as the girl hauled up a load of greens that wouldn’t fit into a lobster trap and crammed the whole package into her mouth. She looked like Sylvester the cat seconds before Granny rescued Tweety Bird from his jaws. She chewed contentedly for several minutes, then blotted her lips with a napkin and, looking my way, leaned over to Sticky Hands Steve and whispered through the poppyseed dressing, “Somebody should help that little old lady with her food. She can’t even close her mouth and there’s a puddle of gravy in her cleavage.”

I summoned the waitress and ordered a dessert dripping with enough chocolate sauce to cover Hershey Pennsylvania in profits and had her deliver it to the young lady and her boyfriend, Mr. Syrup Hands. Then I pulled out my digital camera with movie function.

Good manners are nice, but You Tube is still the best revenge.