A bit of this and that...with added frangipani.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Exacting My Revenge on the Table Manner Tyrant

You might have read in Friday's post that I grew up under the ever watchful eye of my father, especially when it came to table manners. So, you  might be able to imagine my elation when, many years later, as a grown woman, I was able to turn the tables on dear Dad and give him a taste of his own medicine.

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?


  1. Very, very funny. Hard to follow rules when you are such a creative writer.

  2. Oooh nice one! My kids call me out on my rules often....don't they know I'm just making them up as I go? ;)

  3. So far I haven't caught them, but I am becoming them! :)

  4. I have the table manners of a cow......

  5. Great post- and great comments!!!
    One of my FAV things to do is catch my Dad doing something he used to yell at me about- or now 'yells' at my kids about. I creep around the house looking for something- then pounce! I will also leave a big note on the dry erase board for all to see!! It's all good natured but I secretly revel in it :)
    (we're following you now! I lok forward to more posts!)

  6. Clipped Wings: You are too kind, but you have made my day with your comment!

    Christy: Yup, it's kind of like that isn't it? You just go with what feels right on the day, and the next day you forget what felt right the day before. ;-)

    Susan: After I swore I would never be like Dad when it comes to table manners, he had the real last laugh. :-)

    Mrs Tuna: I am sure you ruminate in the most charming of ways.

    Tiffany: Hehe, I never thought about announcing it, but you can bet I had to restrain myself from doing a jig right there in the restaurant when I got him and got him good!

  7. Taking revenge on one's parents has to be right up there on everyone's wish list!

  8. Sweet revenge!!!!! I love it!!! But who know that calamari would come prepared like that?? Even still, I don't think I'd ever order something I've never tried before...I'm too nervous like that.

    I don't think I've ever caught one of my parents disobeying their own rules but I do remember my dad laughing hysterically at me one day when I overheard me telling my kids, "Don't forget to shut the door when you leave. We're not air conditioning the entire neighborhood". He used to say that to me all the time when I was younger and I'd roll my eyes at him and tell him he was being a cheapskate.

  9. Ah sweet revenge indeed! But your poor dad, not realising what he was getting. My son has already caught me out on my rules, I am trying to stick to them too but occasionally mess up.

  10. BAHAHAHA! You know, I reckon my manners have sliped since having kids...I'm try and shove things in my mouth before I have to get up AGAIN... And then I blame my kids for the same. Hypocript, that I am. HA!

  11. We are just starting to work on table manners here too. Of course, I'm having to remind my husband of his table manners at the same time I'm trying to teach the girls :)

  12. Bwahahahaha! When my kids catch me out, I just say "do as I say, not as I do". Sure, it's a cop out, but it works!

  13. Dr Bron, that was a favourite of Dad's too: 'do as I say and not as I do'. I've tried it and it's not working for me so well, my boys won't let me get away with it.

  14. My father made us all eat pumpkin and other various squashy vegetables. Made us sit there, food congealing as it turned cold, until we forced it down. I have recently discovered that the man does not eat, and never has eaten, any such squashy vegetables.

    Visiting via the Rewind.

  15. Very funny ... I could imagine having this exact same conversation with my Dad. Thanks for sharing

    Visiting via the Rewind.


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