I used to be a socially cultured, mannered, and well-behaved woman. Extremely. And I say this with complete and utter confidence.
Then I had a child.
Last week, I attended a work-related sit-down dinner with my husband. My biggest concern prior to the event, was whether I can take the pain of walking in heels from the car to my chair, and back. Having decided that I could not, I stowed away a pair of flip flops in my bag, just in case the bathroom was more than three steps away from our table, but ended up being brave, and leaving them in the car. I tried on clothes for days, making sure I don’t look like a soccer mom in heels or a fashion victim of the late 00’s.
It turned out that shoes and dresses were not my problem.
I’ve been eating standing up for the past three years, out of a pot or the fridge. That night, when confronted by a bread plate, I chose not to touch the bread until the person next to me touched his, making it clear for me that mine was on the left, not on the right . Sometimes I eat with a clean fork, but most of the time with whatever cutlery I find lying around. Most of the time it’s plastic. I also use my hands a lot. Thankfully, the forks and knives are still arranged in the order of courses served, so that went smoothly. Unthankfully, not everyone at these events is as exhausted and excited as I am to be there, hence they do not place their elbows on the table and lean in to look around at everyone else while they are being seated. They also do not talk loudly prior to the third glass of champagne.
Champagne. It’s meant to be sipped not gulped. I remembered that. But the habit of swallowing quickly, is hard to break. You never know when you will be interrupted.
“Oh, sweetie! A fish fork!” I exclaimed with the arrival of course two. “My mom used to make us eat with these when we were kids! We need to get us some!”
My cool husband did NOT immediately make up an excuse to go sit elsewhere, instead he calmly informed me that we actually have some.
“Where? We must take them out!”
Three bathroom visits later, (champagne makes you pee), balls of my feet two burning coals, I showed pictures of my son to a complete stranger.
Outdoors for cocktails we go, I plop down on the nearest pillow, thankfully I was wearing pants, because leg-crossing is also an effort of the past, and start a conversation with an almost-stranger, about wine, schools, my past employment, what our common acquaintances are doing now, my son, of course, until luckily for the man that got two words in, it was time for bathroom visit number four and all I could think about were the flip flops in the car. And my bed.