Sunday, December 26, 2010

Steak, Chicken, or Ear Plugs?

After much debate over what would constitute a fun, festive Christmas Eve dinner (last year's at-home cheese fondue having been more mess than success), we decided to go out to dinner at a Japanese hibachi place.

It was a perfect solution, really: no cooking, no cleaning, and a volcano made out of an onion. Merry, merry.

What we hadn't focused on is that we usually go to the hibachi place with another family, which means that our party usually fills a whole table.

On Christmas Eve, the four of us were joined by another family of four-- Mom, Dad, and two boys in their early 20's.

Guess what? It's actually pretty awkward to share a dinner table with strangers on Christmas Eve. The Club Med-bred side of me felt like we were supposed to engage them in conversation.

Fortunately, they were already talking amongst themselves. About one son's grades. Oy.

Now, depending on your point of view, I am either blessed or cursed with a highly developed talent for eavesdropping. I can't help it. I can't even control it. And, believe me, as dinner went on I was DYING to tune these people out.

As they discussed the son's two B minuses, two C minuses and one D plus, I tried very hard not to register my reaction. Adding to the awkwardness/hilarity of the whole thing is that in the midst of all this high drama the chef is juggling knives and tossing broccoli bits at our mouths.

Saving me from them (and myself), my daughter had to go to the bathroom (big surprise).

By the time we got back to the table, the stranger family had started debating politics. Dad assumed the loud, blustery, interrupting Bill O'Reilly/conspiracy theorist/what-are-those-liberal-college-professors-teaching-you role and the kids tried to point out the trouble brewing between North and South Korea and defend Obama. It was ugly.

Maybe I wouldn't blame the Dad for questioning anything that ever came out of his academically underachieving son's mouth (political or otherwise), but every time Dad was confronted with facts that he didn't like he would shout that he doesn't "have time to watch the news or read about all this stuff because he WORKS six days a week" (which later became "SEVEN days a week") and then he would blame Obama and the democrats for something. It was hideous.

Peace on Earth and goodwill toward.... Check please!

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