On Valentine’s Day, John and I went to a local Japanese restaurant for lunch. We were seated by ourselves at a table, received our drink order, and waited for more people to show up before the cook prepared our meals in front of us. We had no clue to the entertainment we were about to be a part of.
Three couples sat down, two with children, all three boys. Their ages ranged from seven to eight. They were decidedly full of themselves, as my Nanna used to say.
For 17 years, two of the couples have been celebrating this holiday together. The wives met in college, became good friends, and started this tradition when they married. They warned us and apologized ahead of time of their children’s possible antics, but the boys were models of the deportment of their ages.
The cook engaged them in conversation, and one of the boys even tried to juggle with the egg and a big spoon. Two of them ate a few bites, and the other was adamant in wanting no vegetables, only rice and chicken. (Sounds like a Southern boy to me.) One of the dads who was brought up in the low country spoke of the standard menus at his grandmother’s of biscuits, fried chicken, banana pudding, stewed corn, butter beans, etc. It was obvious that he was hankering for his family’s cuisine and not the one on the plate in front of him.
The couples reminisced about other holidays spent together, and the boys were obviously not shy in each others’ company. The bantering was all in fun, and we thoroughly enjoyed their being there. It was a time of strangers sharing time around the table, and there is much to be said for table talk.
In our society today, table conversation is becoming a lost art. Meals are picked up at a drive-through window and inhaled on the way to a sports or ballet practice. Adults eat and drink standing up in the kitchen. A family place is often in front of the television.
Growing up, our meals were always around a table, whether it was the kitchen table or the dining room table. It was the same at both our grandparents’ houses. Even when we gathered in chairs outside, the chairs were grouped together, specifically for conversation. Meals were a time to share stories and remember other good times together.
These young couples had it right, in my opinion. With two generations and two strangers, they were swapping memories of other times and making a new memory at the same time. It was a good time, and we enjoyed breaking bread with them.