You might remember the scene at the beginning of the movie Titanic when Jack escorts Rose and Molly Brown to dinner in the first class dining room. They sit at the Captain’s table and Jack looks at all the silverware and doesn’t have a clue what to do. Then the “Unsinkable Molly Brown” says something like “Just start with the silverware on the outside and work your way in. They’ll never know you’re not rich.”
Well, that scene is closer to true life than you can imagine. When my sisters and I were young, before our teenage years, my mom used to take us out one by one to eat at a fancy restaurant or club in Reno and teach us dining etiquette. We dressed up in our best and just the two of us would have our evening together.
This came in handy when my sisters and I had to go to a Jr. League banquet at Hidden Valley Country Club in Reno. We were with my cousins, so that helped dull the agony. In assigned seats, we began the evening. The lessons on dining etiquette came in handy, but in my family we ate very fast! I asked my sister Tracy what we should do. She said “Remember, chew every bite 10 times!”
A few years later at Boarding School, every Sunday evening, after chapel Vespers, we would go to our assigned tables in the Dining Hall and had our weekly School Banquet. Knowing how to tie a tie and use my silverware came in handy at those fancy Sunday dinners.
In this day and age dinner at home can be quick and crazy. Usually because everyone is too busy to sit down at the table together. Sports, a workout at the gym, band practice, debate, golf, video games and homework, even complaints about a co-worker or employee. These can easily take the place of family conversation, of finding out how everyone’s day went.
For priests…the quicker mass is over, the sooner we can get to the Breakfast Club; We count people and hosts, deciding how much wine to use and if the Lectors have the right page. This can be a professional hazard for most priests. And, we really do notice if you come in late!