My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Dinner with the Proles

The other night started off as an evening of great calamity: Sebastian hurt himself, causing everyone to forget about the pot on the stove, which promptly went up in smoke, forcing all of us to flee the house, still dressed from the formal gala earlier in the evening. So out to dinner we went, reeking of burned rice and wearing our Sunday best, heavily accessorized with facial woes. In the car minutes later, and after the all too familiar argument of, “Anything is fine.. ..except that,” we decided to find the biggest dive in Anderson that was still suitable for a two-year-old on a busy night. A few minutes of Garmin searching and wasted gas later, we were walked into the overflowing dining room at a local CiCi’s Pizza.

Now I am by no means the classiest person in town. I forget table manners, have a body that constantly accumulates construction and automotive repair damage and my social mistakes would cause Emily Post to publicly shit herself (classy, I know). But through it all, I think that I probably maintain a slightly above average level of refinement. That being said, upon entering into CiCi’s I realized that we, sadly, would clearly skew the regular clienteles previously established level of decorum by quite a margin.

The only open table in the restaurant was next to an infant, alone and crying, in her car seat. Her face was covered in marinara sauce and, by the accumulation of tears, both of her parents had been gone for more than a couple of minutes. Eventually her mother returned, dropped a cheese stick into her lap and went off to refill glasses. The crying persisted and I had to hold Kela back from going over to sooth the ignored child.

We took turns collecting our pizza and drinks, and once we sat down we immediately realized that the table adjacent to us contained nothing but children under the age of twelve. Listing in on their conversation we soon found that their parents had dropped them off and gone to dinner at another restaurant. Their meal had been paid for and they were given ten dollars to play games until their parents came to get them. They were having a discussion as to whether or not they would spend the money on games or split it up for later use. After several minutes of heated argument, they agreed that they would spend half of their money on arcade games and half on Rockstar Energy Drinks at the Dollar General located in the same shopping center.

On the other side of our table was a family with a dad sporting a bandage from a fresh neck tattoo, his wife, a very large woman sans one desperately needed bra, and three young children emblazoned with ads for G-Force the movie, WWE Raw and Coors Light. I’m not sure where you even find a Coors Light shirt in 2T, but I’m guessing that it’s somewhere that you shouldn’t take a two-year old. They sat quietly, not looking at each other, inhaling pizza by the stack and only occasionally looking up to see if the dessert bar had been restocked.

The entire restaurant seemed to be populated with similar groups. Things outside of what we would have considered normal, but in this environment, was typical. I know that social norms vary from class to class, and even with classes, and within each subset are clearly defined rules and mores, equally punished and rewarded for adherence, but it was extremely interesting to experience those differences first hand. No matter the food, location or socioeconomic status, a meal is a time for sharing and coming together. Sometimes that is a dinner at home with the family and sometimes it’s bad pizza surrounded by unfamiliar stories.

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