Spaghetti, Manners, and Black Jack . . .

7 Jan

In Ireland, when a large group of Catholics get together they drink whiskey (or so I’ve heard). When I was young and in Texas, however, when a large group of Catholics got together they ate spaghetti. And a lot of it. It was on one such occasion that I learned my best manners.
Sharing Italian with my best ‘pre-teen’ friends, I stopped by “The Parents” table, where my mother requested the dreaded . . .
“Anika, look, here’s Jennifer Mayflower. Why don’t you have a seat.”
Jennifer Mayflower, however, was NOT cool. She was not allowed to grow her hair long, and though she had hit puberty at a VERY early age, she was not allowed to shave. Furthermore, she used the word “cool” in an inappropriate manner, (such as when she was looking at a pencil of all “uncool” things). And she had about one thousand heart stickers on her locker.
Suffice it to say, Jennifer Mayflower was the last person I wanted to share a spaghetti dinner with.
“Well . . . I’m sitting with my friends WAY over there . . .” I said.
Mistake. Big mistake. I heard about it for the rest of the week.
“I can’t believe you’re MY child. How could I’ve had raised such a snob! No manners! No class! Embarrassing! You are NOT my daughter!”
After a week’s worth of being ignored for such snobbery, I had learned my lesson. For each consecutive spaghetti dinner, Jennifer Mayflower joined my table, and whether I liked it or not, I feigned congeniality. It was the right thing to do, and truly, it was good manners.
Such manners have stuck with me into adulthood – One should always acknowledge another human being. There is never an excuse not to do so.
Along the path of life, I’ve chosen friends who’ve somehow learned the same lesson, whether it be via Cotillion, Dear Abbey, or spaghetti dinners.
A lesson I learned on Friday, however, is that though you choose your friends, you cannot choose the people with whom you work.
And though I like those with whom I’ve chosen to work, a few of the people I work with have never had spaghetti. . .
Scene: Company New Year Party.
George Glass and I affix our plates with the most fabulous chicken a la peanut sauce and most delicious meatballs. Upon sitting at our own private table, I notice Department Cohorts (DCs) at the table behind me.
“Should we sit there?”
“It would be the polite thing to do.”
And so stricken with good manners, we sit.
And upon sitting . . .
No Hello.
No ‘How are you?’
No eye contact.
And worse . . . after sitting for approximately three minutes, DCs stand up and remove themselves from the premises without a single acknowledgment or recognition.
All I can say is ‘uncool’ (and I’m not referring to pencils). Apparently, DCs didn’t get their degrees in “Gentlemanly Manners and Etiquette.”
Regardless of such ill behavior, George Glass and I didn’t miss a beat. We enjoyed the Casino Night theme, won over $8,000.00 in fake chips, and found that we can definitely take on Black Jack and Roulette.
So . . . I learned that it’s a good thing that George’s religion and my pocketbook prevent us from truly partaking in a gambling atmosphere. Also, not everyone has manners. And as much as I didn’t want to sit with Jennifer Mayflower during adolescence, thankfully I wasn’t raised in a barn. Polite manners are quite important. Finally, in retrospect, as far as etiquette is concerned, my mother knew exactly what she was doing.
The DCs, however, have a lot to learn . . .

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5 Responses to “Spaghetti, Manners, and Black Jack . . .”

  1. Anonymous January 7, 2008 at 6:10 AM #

    you are having the best week ever

  2. Noelle January 7, 2008 at 6:44 PM #

    I can think of one very specific case where ignoring a person is better for every party. Other than that, yeah, befriend them all because you never know what’s going to happen.

  3. Anonymous January 13, 2008 at 12:17 AM #

    Hey! I know Jennifer Mayflower too and never sat by her…..what does that say about my manners?

  4. Anika January 14, 2008 at 4:23 AM #

    Anonymous: Surely you were sitting with me!!! Perhaps it’s just a construct of my imagination that I was so kind to Jennifer Mayflower. Or perhaps I was stuck sitting with her by myself while you engaged jovially with the cooler crowd. . .
    Noelle: Now, I really want to know the “very specific case” wherein ignoring a person was quite necessary. . .

  5. Julie January 21, 2008 at 4:20 AM #

    I miss you Anaka!! Thank you for writing about me on your blog! You are the coolest blogger ever! Meet me at Spaghetti Warehouse on Friday and I will give you a heart sticker…Love, Jennifer Mayflower

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