Friday, May 11, 2007

The Dinner Table 101

Last night the Taylor family had an exciting episode at the dinner table. Tensions rose; personalities clashed. Through my eyes the events ensued as follows:

Dear and hard working mother manages the BBQ in the stylish blue dress she put on to be presentable for her husband. Her children: Jacob (25), myself (23), and Jessica (18) trickle into the kitchen and one by one sit down.

My dad walks in last, blesses the food, and begins to serve up the buttery rice and brocolli dish as my mom continues to tend the BBQ outside. My dad's mind is elsewhere. It's evident because he continues serving me brocolli after I ask him twice if I could have more rice. I give up trying to voice myself and instead offer my plethora of brocolli to my brother. Jessica offers her plate up next, but in the serving process my dad's arm hits his tall glass of pink lemonade and spills the juice across the kitchen floor, which my sister recently mopped.

I rush to grab the dish towels and sponges while Jacob and Jessica sit at the table eating. My dad helps mop up the mess as Jess continues to hold up her plate, waiting to be served. Eventually she gives up and says with a surrendering sigh, "I think God's trying to teach me patience."

In the meantime my mom comes in and helps mop up the mess with my dad and I. "Can we get a different spoon to serve this rice," my dad says with a hint of exasperation in his voice. "See," he says as he pushes the spatula back and forth in the rice to show how easily the utensil slips in the rice pan. "That's what made me spill."

I believe my brother was making sly comments through this, but I don't remember what they were. My dad's mood was off set, and Jessica had given up trying to have a cheery attitude. Her shoulder's slumped and she stared at her empty plate.

The sticky mess was temporary fixed, but the kitchen would have to be mopped again—something my mother would do, not Jessica. We all attempted to eat again. After Jessica refused to accept a serving of rice and brocolli from my dad, he thrust the spatula into the pan and said, "Fine, get it yourself."

My mother presses her lips together and attempts to keep the peace. "Let's start this meal over again," she says in an almost annoyingly-happy voice. She speaks a short prayer, asking God that we will all have what she calls "get-along-ability."

The dinner was fairly normal after that. Jessica sulked through the rest of her meal as she made ridiculous comments about how fat she is. After she refused a slice of cornbread because "it's fattening," she turns to me and admires the yellow shirt I have on. My grandmother had bought her the same one in a shade of pink. "What size is that?" she asks.

"Jessica, comparing is a downward spiral," I said as I made a visual demonstration with my finger.

My brother took the opportunity to be very brother-like. With his knife, he stabbed my perfect cube of cornbread, smashing it into crumbling pieces on my plate. "Jacob!" I said, but I was thankful for the comic relief. As I push him away I wipe my nose feeling the poison pimple that had been forming there. "Ouch," I said.

Jessica seizes the opportunity for an overused stab of her own. "See, you touch your pimples. If you just left them alone, they'd go away."

My blood begins to boil. My sister can't get under my skin in very many subjects, but she can here.

"I bet my pimple here will go away before yours," she says as she points to a minuet speck by her eyebrows on her perfectly smooth face, "because I don't pick at mine."

"Jessica, don't compare; it's a downward spiral," I repeated to cool myself down before I tried saying anything really potent.

"I'm just saying that that's why you have so many pimples," she says.

"Good for you," I said. "I hope you're able to get through the next five years of your life without picking your pimples and so you can be my age and have a perfect skin." I can't say my intentions were pure. I kept thinking about that verse that talks about heaping hot coals on your neighbors head.

She fell silent.

Jacob tried to make another pass at my cornbread, and the conversation abandoned any more talk about pimples. Thank God.

I suppose this was just a mild meal.