Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Learning the Hard Way -- jcarolek

This morning I ran downstairs to the lobby of the hotel to partake in their breakfast fare. I had skipped supper last night (unintentionally) as I was dead into my preparation for my presentations I will be giving today and tomorrow. So, I was hungry.

I helped myself to some scrambled eggs, a slice of ham and two mini muffins. I poured myself a mixed drink (cranberry juice and orange juice) and made my way to a deserted table (oh, that it had been a desserted table!)

After spreading my napkin carefully across my lap, I took up my fork and knife and began to eat. I noticed that the gentlemen at the table next to me were watching me eat. Odd, I thought. And then it occurred to me. They must think my eating eggs by holding the fork, tines down in my left hand and “pushing” the eggs onto the back of the fork before raising it to its final destination (my mouth) was a bit odd.

It brought me back to the day when I began this method of eating. For, before that fateful day, I had eaten my food as most Americans do, with the fork held in the right hand and the tines turned up, not down. My day of come-uppance came when I was 11 years old, attending Charlton Park Convent in Cheltenham, England.

I was eating lunch with the other students (all girls of course). My parents had taught me good manners and I was using them. I carefully cut each bite to a postage stamp size, placed the bite in my mouth, closed my mouth to chew it 32 times (hard and fast rule from Mom) and NEVER talked with my mouth full. I was well into my routine when the blow from behind, between the shoulder blades caught me by surprise!

“Judith! You are not a baby! Only babies eat with their forks turned up like spoons!” Sister Mary informed me with a look of disgust I can still see today. Mortified and embarrassed by my obviously ignorant eating methods, I watched as she demonstrated the “proper” way to eat.

At 49 years old, I have NEVER reverted back to the way I learned to eat. I will, I suppose, for the rest of my life, grasp my fork in my left hand and pile the food on its back. And, endure the on-lookers’ gazes!

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