759. Mabel did things nicely


Mabel did things nicely. It’s not that she was a snob. She wasn’t. But she had been brought up to do things nicely. She’d taught her children how to do things nicely as well, such as setting the table properly; holding a knife and fork correctly; folding a napkin creatively; making the drinking glasses and cutlery sparkle on the table. Hopefully, her children had passed these things onto their children. Her son and his three kids were coming to dinner tonight!

Mabel set the table!

They arrived!

“What’s for dinner, Gran?” they chorused.

“You shall have to wait and see.”

Dinner time arrived.

The four guests went to the table, grabbed a plate each, piled the food, and went and sat in front of the TV. Mabel was stunned. She bit her tongue.

The next time they came for dinner, she’d got rid of her television set. The ploy didn’t work; they sat on the floor eating their dinner, phones in hand.

35 thoughts on “759. Mabel did things nicely

  1. Cynthia Jobin

    I am reminded of my grandmother whose famous words—every time we sat down to her beautifully appointed holiday table and sumptuous meal that she had worked days preparing—were: “Now, let’s not hurry,” Of course, all the big galumphing men in the family teased her as they took a dive into the goodies and slurped and burped through the meal in a trice.
    At least they sat at the table for a little while.

    At our Thanksgiving his year I expect we’ll find such scenes as teenagers sitting at opposite ends of the same sofa, not speaking, but texting each other; menfolk watching football on a grotesquely huge screen in the “man cave,” and the women in the kitchen gossiping, having each brought a different side dish to the bench for the buffet—which they will set up for day- long grazing. I may drop in for a few minutes…..or not. The times they done changed already.

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Don’t forget to take your phone if you go! Last Thanksgiving, the landlord’s mother – the loveliest of old English ladies – said she had read all her life about American Thanksgiving and never experienced it. So we invited her and her husband, the landlord and her husband, and the landlords daughter. The old lady and her husband had a great time and loved it. The landlord couple lay on the sofa and played with each other’s feet – all day! The landlord’s daughter sat with phone calling out jokes she was reading – regardless of any conversation going on – and using the f-word every second word. It was quite the most horrid affair in the whole year. Never again! Just Eric and me – although you’d be most welcome!

        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          I have only the dumb phone too. Some things, like getting some free cutlery after I’d had to buy a new fridge last week (the old one died), so demanded my cellphone number, that I was disqualified from getting the freebie because of the freebie organizer’s inability to comprehend the fact that not everyone in the world needed or had a cellphone. 😦 It’s the new phase – it’s called technicalism (akin to ageism etc)!

          1. Cynthia Jobin

            When my partner, Mary, who did not want to be “accessible” to just anyone (especially the snotty parents of her students in Newton MA who wanted her attention at all hours) and used to encounter demands that she give out her private cell phone #, she used to respond that her cell phone was for her own convenience not theirs.
            We used TracFon back then, mostly for emergencies, and only good friends and family had the numbers.

            1. Cynthia Jobin

              I may soon need a new fridge, too. I’m tired of screwing the freezer handle back on, every other week…..I won’t look forward to any promotional freebies. Hope you’re enjoying your new fridge! 🙂

              1. Bruce Goodman Post author

                I complained about the freebie – so they are sending a 56 piece cutlery set free via courier this coming week! The new fridge is less noisy, and we reckon we’ll save $30 a month on power with the new one. It has a child-proof lock on it, so we’ll start using milk again once we figure how to open the door.

            2. Bruce Goodman Post author

              I keep a cellphone in the car in case of breakdown. Four years ago I missed out on a hernia operation because the operation now only make appointments via texting. At that stage I did not live within cellphone range. “Oh but Telecom says the whole country is covered” said the hospital!

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      It got worse! We asked the girl’s mother to ask her daughter to stop swearing, and she said, “You have to realize she’s off a farm”. Then when it came to eat she didn’t like anything and sat pouting at the table with her phone. You have to realize that this “girl” was 28!

  2. noelleg44

    Ah, that millennial generation! Mabel needs to enforce some of her rules – no cell phones and you sit at the table. Here in the South we still teach all those rules at something we send our sons and daughters to: Cotillion, a course for good manners. My son hated it and lasted a half year, but he still remembers how to set a table for a six course dinner!

  3. southamptonoldlady

    This reminds me of “On the Children” by Khalil Gilbran:- “You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday. You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.” Great insight Bruce!


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