Puppet Planet

Where I Get to Pull all the Strings

Secrets of Living the European Lifestyle (Part 2)

Linger over Dinner…

If you’re like me, you probably can’t count the number of times you’ve been rushed through dinner even on those occasions where you’re fortunate enough to dine in an upscale restaurant. Inevitably someone in the party is anxious to get a move on, to get to the show or just to head home for no apparent reason except that it might be someone’s bedtime.

I was actually dining out in a lovely restaurant with a relative and an acquaintance who immediately upon completing his meal actually clapped his hands one time as if to say, “Dinner is over, and it’s time to leave.”

Imagine my surprise! He was a VERY well respected older business man who wasn’t going to waste an ounce of his time.

So we had to cut short what could potentially have been a delightful conversation. The businessman has since gone on to greener pastures, but I have retained that incident for this very moment.

I find it rather sad that people are so disinterested in others who are of no value to them (all it takes to be interesting to someone is to be interested in them – there, another SECRET!)

But I also find it sad, particularly in America, that not only do we rush through dinner out on the town, but at home as well. In some families there is no such thing as a dinner table or hour and there hasn’t been for years. Dinner is whatever and wherever you happen to be standing or sitting (including your car) at around 6pm.

There are tons of people out there in the blogosphere who talk about the disappearing family dinner table and the detriment that is to society, so I won’t wax on about it here. Europeans also tend to be leaner than their American counterparts, and that in spite of (or is it because of?) all the multi-course dinners in many European countries.

We’re still the ones with the indigestion, obesity, adult-onset diabetes,  heart disease and super high stress levels. And we can’t be bothered having a conversation at the dinner table because WHY?

What is more important than talking with and listening to your children, your mother, your spouse, your friend, a new acquaintance (who perhaps cannot do anything to improve your bottom line)?

If we find our relatives and acquaintances unbearable to be around then at the very least we can linger for vanity’s sake. “Hey, if I sit here and actually digest my dinner, eat more slowly and not use my fork as a forklift, I might actually feel better and not have to spend two hours at the gym tomorrow.” (Europeans don’t spend hours at the gym everyday. I promise you! They do, however, walk more frequently than we do… but that is in Part 1 of my Secrets to Living…)

Look, we all have folks who test our patience. So here is an idea. Listen to them go on about the usual stuff, then bring up another interesting topic. See how many topics you can cover in an evening. I bet you’ll be surprised.

I engage people at dinner tables all the time with this little trick. And in the end, my meal is nicely digested, I don’t have to work out at the gym the next day (I’m a recovering fitness instructor), and I usually only get invited back by people who don’t mind a little stimulating conversation with their glass of cabernet! Bon Appetite!

Yours,

Karen J.

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