May 20, 2006

Gratuitous Domestic Venting (TM)

May I just say a word about what it is like to go to dinner with my in-laws? I may? Why, thank you. *Ahem*


Okay, I feel a bit better now.

Honest to God, I cannot think of a single other occassion when I am so overwhelmingly tempted to slit my own wrists with the steak knife. And it is all so painfully invariable: Dinner orders are more complicated than the logistics of Operation Overlord, consisting of detailed descriptions of what can and cannot be eaten and the medical/dietary/physiological reasons why or why not, together with complex and frequently impossible demands for alternate foodstuffs and/or cooking methods. Furthermore, no order is final, but instead is subject to radical change based on what somebody else at the table may or may not choose to eat.

Ordering concluded, the conversation inevitably turns to what a moron/sneek/bastard the waiter obviously must be for being so difficult about getting right what everybody wanted.

This subject being finally exhausted, it's time for Old Home Week: My father-in-law discusses his Favorite Conspiracy Theories, most of them involving Alan Greenspan, my mother-in-law bemoans her latest symptoms and my grandmother-in-law brings up the names of various far-flung kin, all of whom it is agreed would be at the top of their various fields or professions this very day if that shop teacher back in high school hadn't been such a liar.

By this time, the food arrives, provoking a fresh outbreak of accusations, recriminations and alterations, as the waiter almost never brings exactly what was ordered. Once he has been sent back to the kitchens to try again, a highly technical discussion ensues over the few dishes that do manage to pass muster, such discussion revolving around the issues of who is going to share what with whom and how. Depending on how many more tries the waiter must make, this stage can last a surprising amount of time.

When at last everybody gets what he or she wants, or at least heroically comes to terms with yet again being denied, it is time for cross-examination of each other's meals, together with reminiscense of better or worse examples of a given dish had at some other place during the speaker's long and varied career.

When dessert time rolls around, this entire process is repeated, often with the added attraction of a detailed analysis of the bill, the results of which very often suggest that the restaurant is trying in some way to rip us off.

Hence the attractiveness of the aforementioned steak knife.

The one question my in-laws haven't been able to answer to date is why every time we go out, I seem to curl up in a corner tight-lipped and drink too much.

The world wonders.

Posted by Robert at May 20, 2006 08:35 PM | TrackBack

What's funny about this is that, as it turns out, my father-in-law reads the blog (I'm just finding this out!) and he thought this post was authored by me, and that I was chatting about them...until he got to the bottom of the post.

He wouldn't have any arguments if this was about his in-laws, who have been known in the past to bring ziplocs to buffets.

Posted by: Kathy at May 21, 2006 05:35 PM

Wonderful piece of writing. The heaping on of telling details is marvelous.

It also reminded me of Douglas Adams' description of "Bistromathic Drive" from "Life, The Universe, And Everything."

Of course, I am sorry to hear that it really happens to you.....

Posted by: BillB at May 21, 2006 06:05 PM

Someday Kathy is going to get me liquored up and I'll tell the rehearsal dinner stories....

insert evil laughter here...

Posted by: Steve the LLamabutcher at May 21, 2006 07:39 PM

I really had no idea we'd married into the same family. Kinda scary.

Posted by: phin at May 23, 2006 11:04 AM

Imagine, if you will, the addition of a good 20 to 30 minutes prior to leaving for the restaurant filled with equally liveley discussion concerning wither to go for a fine family repast. Once a destination is discerned, and band-aids (both physical and emotional) applied, it is off in separate vehicles for invective-laced steaming which centers around the need for compromise and how everyone being equally miserable with the restaurant choice is, indeed, infinitely pleasureable to having to make [insert relative's name here] happy.

Posted by: geo at May 26, 2006 11:51 AM
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