This is a true story …
It was a Sunday and I was invited over a friend’s for a family dinner. Being Italian, they tended to eat heartily. And especially at Sunday dinner. A little snacking and drinking led to first course of chicken followed by a break with more free-flowing drink. The pasta came out next, then more rest. The main course was laid out afterward – naturally the biggest affair with seconds expected – which usually resulted in belt loosening. Or course, drink and talk and banter punctuated the respite. Then came the dessert. Corner-pieced with appropriate libations. If you weren’t rolled out the door at whatever time you decided to leave you didn’t eat enough according to the hosts.
It was during the pasta stage of the meal where this story centers. It was a simple linguini and gravy with bread which began the whole affair. I was sitting near the end of the table by an uncle named Louie, a member of the family with many a tall tale, big opinions and just as big a voice.
As the last person was served we all dug in to our spaghettis. I casually twirled my noodles around my fork and listened to some story being told by someone at the other end of the table when Louie noticed my manner of food delivery … of which he was obviously not in agreement.
“You know you have a spoon sitting right there beside your plate,” he casually mentioned to me.
“I do, thank you,” I told him. I continued eating.
“It’s not for show. You can use it,” he suggested. I looked at Louie and smiled.
Not a forkful of pasta later, Louie was on me about using the spoon once again: “What’s the matter with you? You don’t have manners and eat properly? Use your spoon.”
“Thank you but no,” I told Louie. “I have an issue with metal dragging on metal when I eat. It leaves a coppery taste in my mouth that sets me on edge,” I explained to him.
“I don’t care. Pick up your spoon and use it,” he urged.
“Sorry, Louie. That’s not going to happen.”
Louie stopped eating, dropped his utensils with a clatter and sat back in his chair. Everyone stopped eating at looked at the two of us.
He then reached for his fork, picked it up and leaned toward me with the business end of it half a foot from my face: “If you don’t pick up that damned spoon and use it right now, I’m going to stick this fucking fork in your eye” he stated in no uncertain terms and without blinking.
I looked directly at Louie. “No, thank you. I’m not going to use my spoon. I’ve explained why …”
Louie threw down his fork once again and shoved himself back in his chair. He harrumphed loudly. “Damned disrespectful kids who don’t listen to their elders …” he grumbled. He scooched his chair closer to the table and began eating again.
I looked at my friend for the first time during this exchange and saw him smirking at me in approval. Along with everyone else, I began eating once again.
Later, I discovered the entire affair was a test of my character, typical chest-pounding indicative of Louie. Apparently I had passed the test.