My family has always sat down as a whole to eat dinner at least five out of seven nights a week. Everyone had their spots at the table, and if you decided to plop your hungry bodied self into a seat not your own, you would surely be extracted in the most efficient way possible by its rightful owner. There were six seats, only five of which were filled: Mom at the end closest to the kitchen. I never thought about this until now, but this was not her accidental placement; my brother on the opposite end closest to the living room so as to keep a watchful eye on the latest sports updates if perchance that loud-box was still on; my sister to the left of my mother, which I had always thought should have been my place. Then again, she came three years earlier than me; my father across from my sister with a view of the Halldale fields through our picture window; and myself, adjacent to both my sister and brother where I would assist my sister in the obstruction of the outside view for our father.
Dinners were consumed at high rates of plate to mouth speed for my father and brother who would then commence to seconds and perhaps thirds, even. My sister would eat in such a way that would make anyone want to eat exactly what she was eating (and she still does to this day). Don't query as to how she does this, but everything she eats you want, too! She could be eating filet mignon, (which I have no memory of ever having at our dinner table), or a graying chicken nugget from McDonald's, (which I don't remember ever having at out dinner table, either, Mom). Mom would always finish eating last because she was the last to be able to pick up her fork. Always busy in the kitchen with the prepping, the cooking, the cleaning, and the up-and-down, back-and-forth to the kitchen "I need ketchup," "Are we gonna have anything to drink with this meal?" "No forks?" "We need a spoon for this" repeats. And, I, well I was another story. My palate has improved more than ten-fold in my journey from breast milk to present. Instead of every dinner meal ending either standing facing the corner or sent to the solitude of my shared bedroom because of turning up my nose in disgust to my mother's creations, I now take part in a variety of cuisines and even attempt to recreate my mother's dishes which I used to loathe.
My friend has told me that attending a dinner at the Couturier home was like being on the set of a television sitcom. There was yelling, crying, gnashing of teeth (not in the terms of our gatherings being similar to that of what one will experience in Hell, but the view of an open void full of whatever it was we were eating that particular evening), belly groans due to unnecessary over expansion, prayers, spilled milk, gaseous eruptions, begging dogs, passing the potatoes, laughing, debates, story time, and mess. Not everything you took part in or witnessed was what you would want to share, but, nevertheless, shared as a whole. It would have been interesting for me to be like my friend and view our family dinners as a fly on the wall, but I would much rather keep my place in history: sitting in my spot at the table stuck between my brother and sister.