Irene Waters’ “Times Past” prompt challenge topic for this month is Conversation Time: https://irenewaters19.com/2018/05/01/conversation-time-times-past/
I am a baby boomer and grew up in suburban USA. What an interesting topic!
I was the oldest of 5 kids. The kitchen table was the setting for most conversation when we were all together. It is where we ate all our meals (unless company was coming and then we used the dining room). The kitchen area was fairly small, so we were very crowded around the table and filled up the room. My clearest memories of “talk” at meals? My mother’s (and sometimes my father’s) voice: “Hold your fork correctly” (directed at my brother repeatedly), “Get your elbows off the table” (directed at all of us), “Chew with your mouth closed” (could have been anyone), “Remember only a clean plater gets dessert” (everybody). All that concentrating on manners may have prevented much talking about school, the weather or what was going on in the world.
I do, however, recall a few exceptions. When I was in the 10th grade I learned how to dissect a frog in science class. That night at dinner I compared it to the chicken leg I was expertly cutting off the bone, carefully removing the meat and exposing the ligaments, etc. “Look! this looks like pipes and stems!” That did not go over well, as everyone promptly lost their appetites. I never lived that one down.
And another time…right in the middle of dinner, my brother (I think he was 10 or 11 at the time) chose a quiet moment to look at one of my sisters and call her a douche bag. Any conversation ground to a halt. No fork correcting. Mouths, full of food, hung open in disbelief. Uh oh, I thought. Apparently he had just heard the term used in a derogatory way at school and was obviously quite proud of himself. “WHAT??” both parents shouted. “Do NOT Ever Say That Again.” And then…much to our surprise, my mother asked him…”Do you know what a douche bag is?” When it became obvious he had no clue, she (privately) explained exactly what it was. I think he was horrified. He never used the term again (at least at dinner) and reverted to more common insults that didn’t involve ladies’ private parts. The conversation drifted back to comfortable topics once again. “Put your napkin in your lap!” “Finish your milk!” “Say please!” Which was, perhaps, just as well.
We all did grow up with excellent table manners.