The year was 2000. Dad and Mom made the long journey from Vancouver to Sydney to visit us for the very first time since I left home so many years before. We wanted to treat Mom and Dad to a lovely meal in a pristine setting, so we took them to a sophisticated restaurant overlooking the water at Manly Ferry terminal. I think it was called Archibald's or something like that. There was linen everywhere, wine glasses that sparkled and gleamed, and the menu was well and truly posh. You know the type, where you have to get your pocket dictionary out just to figure out the meaning of the some of the words they used--words like skordalia, fregola and Burrata (Don't ask me).
So when Dad scanned the menu, his eyes locked on to something he knew: Calamari. He thought that would be a safe bet--little rings of calamari dipped in batter and deep-fried, he couldn't go wrong with that. You should know that, as I mentioned in my previous post, Dad always said that you have to try something before you say you don't like it. Having said that, Dad grew up in Scotland in the 30s and 40s. His tastes weren't exotic, despite years of foreign travel with his jobs in mining.
So when his meal arrived, complete with all 10 tentacles waving up at him on each of those slippery little suckers, after having been only briefly shown to a pan of olive oil, Dad visibly paled and immediately pushed his plate away. It was then that I pounced. I said in a sing-song way, "What's wrong Daa-aad? Don't you like it?" and then in a good-natured way, but in a tone that showed him I wasn't going to back down (I have never before been one to give my dad attitude, but he wasn't going to get off lightly this time), "Well, you can't say you don't like it unless you try it!", as I chuckled with glee.
I had to give him this much, he knew when he was beat, and he did take a tentative bite, before declaring that he indeed did not care for calamari cooked in this manner. I let him off the hook then, and we organised for him to trade with Will, who was wise and chose the more conservative, but still gourmet version of, Fish and Chips.
This memory of the one time I was able to get Dad back for a childhood of table manner torment has sustained me for the last decade or so, and I would often bring it up in conversation whenever I had the chance. The funny thing is that I actually very much agree with the rule that you have to try it before you say you don't like it, but I still revelled in the fact that I managed to get one over on my good ole Dad. It didn't happen very often, so I was going to milk it for all it was worth.
So, now that I am the one who is starting to crack down on my sons' table manners, I wonder when it is all going to come boomeranging back at me, and they will catch me disobeying one of my own rules. Who am I kidding? It will probably be next week, when they clock me with my elbows on the table or reprimanding them with my mouth full.
Have you ever caught your parents disobeying one of their own rules? Did you call them on it?