Observations from the Dinner Table

I eat like a slob. I wish it weren’t true, but it undoubtedly is. Somehow, by the end of each stint at the table, I rise to discover that a portion of my meal has once again found its way south onto my clothing. This is both a profound mystery and an accepted reality. As careful as I think I’ve been, I rarely walk away from a dining experience unsoiled.

Dinner time, to me, is like a race to the finish…and I’m training for gold. Anyone whose ever broken bread with me knows to keep their hands clear of the passage between my plate and my salivating orifice lest they find themselves missing a digit or two. It’s not that I make the conscious decision to inhale my food; I’d love to be one of those folks that just lingers over a meal – poking at it, pushing it around with their fork and finally conceding to take a bite – but inevitably I open my oral Hoover and suck my plate clean. Gold!

I’m a lazy diner too. Not in the sense that I eat slowly, we’ve already established that is not the case. No, I am lazy in that I carry, shall we say, a “relaxed” posture while I eat. It takes altogether too much effort to sit erect and hold over my place setting. Instead, I prefer to dine in a slightly reclined position. [This may play a part in the mystery of my soiled clothing.] I slunk down into my chair and transport my food the better part of a linear yard from plate to pie hole.

As a youngster I used to eat sidesaddle; legs flung over the arm of the kitchen chair. Unfortunately, the disapproval of my parents overrode my need for comfort, and I was forced to face front or be excused from family meal time. Despite all the manners my mother tried to instill, my ideal dining arrangement would take place in one of those Craftmatic® adjustable beds with a tray of food resting snugly above my breasts and an adult-size trough bib wrapped around my torso like a corset so that I wouldn’t have to concern myself with staining my clothes.

Sadly, my laziness doesn’t end with my slack posture. I’m also a lazy diner in the fashion that I do not like to take the time to properly cut up my food. As a child, I often attempted to eat my portion of meat by stabbing the entire slab directly onto my fork and tearing away at it with my teeth. For this, I would receive a swift thump to the skull with a small yet persuasive stainless steel instrument. My father, a clever and expeditious man himself, somehow failed to appreciate my method of improved eating efficiency; I bore many-a spoon-induced goose eggs to prove it.

To this day, I still have difficulty using a knife properly. I mangle any poor pork chop that I try to bite-sect. During a visit to France (where table manners are inbred) a friend observed me slashing away at my food and commented that I “eat like a Barbarian!” Unsolicited and unwelcomed, he took it upon himself to teach me how to properly handle my knife and fork. I humored him for the time being, but it did little good overall as I still saw even the thickest cuts of meat by rocking the side edge of my fork while applying 80psi of pressure. This fork-only method ensures that I don’t lose precious eating time to the repetitive and unnecessary task of picking up and putting down a knife – thus adding to the efficiency quotient aforementioned. One can’t compete for the gold by fiddle-farting around with those other secondary utensils.

Not only do I avoid the arbitrary task of cutting my food, but I evade chewing as well. I figure that if my food is not properly masticated by two or three grinds of my incisors then I’ll leave it to my gastrointestinal system to finish the job. God designed stomach acid for a reason, who am I to question the perfection of His creation? According to my younger sister, there was an incident sometime during my childhood where I was woofing down such large bites of steak that I unknowingly bit off – and consequently choked – on a bone. When I told her I had zero recollection of such an episode, she insisted this was due to the bone cutting off my oxygen supply so that I blacked out. She did, however, recall that I went on to finish every last giant bite of my steak.

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