Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Old Testament Table Manners

Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable, in my sight you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the living room. Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown substance you may eat, but not in the living room.

Drink your milk as it is given you, neither use on it any utensils, nor fork, nor knife, nor spoon, for that is not what they are for, you shall be sent away.

When you have drunk, let the empty cup then remain upon the table, and do not bite it upon its edge and by your teeth hold it to your face in order to make noises in it sounding like a duck: for you shall be sent away.

When you chew your food, keep your mouth closed until you have swallowed, and do not open it to show your brother or your sister what is within; I say to you, do not so, even if your brother or your sister hath done the same to you.

Sit just as I have told you, and do not lean to one side or the other, nor slide down until you are nearly slid away. Heed me; for if you sit like that, your hair will go into the syrup. And now behold, even as I have said, it has come to pass.

For we judge between the plate that is unclean and the plate that is clean, saying first, if the plate is clean, then you shall have dessert.

And if you try to deceive by moving the potatoes or peas around with a fork, that it may appear you have eaten what you have not, you will fall into iniquity. And I will know, and you shall have no dessert.

Do not scream; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you are given a plate on which two foods you do not wish to touch each other are touching each other, your voice rises up even to the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not.

Likewise if you receive a portion of fish from which every piece of herbal seasoning has not been scraped off, and the herbal seasoning is loathsome to you and steeped in vileness, again I say, refrain from screaming. Though the vileness overwhelm you, and cause you to faint unto death, make not that sound from within your throat, neither cover your face, nor press your fingers to your nose. For even I have made the fish as it should be; behold, I eat it myself, yet shall not surely die.

-- "Lamentations of the Father" by Ian Frazier, The Atlantic Monthly, 1997.

4 comments:

John McCallum said...

I love it! It makes manners sound so much more biblical and important. It sure beats, "Get your elbows off the table, Mabel."

Robert McGee said...

Hilarious!!

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