Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



All of My Friends

Monday, April 30, 2012

Public Manners - or - "Oh, I can clear out a room!"


Well I don't get it.
Do you?

There is a scene in the movie, “Over the Hedge”, in which the skunk, using only those talents with which she was blessed at birth, saves what could have been a dire situation.
When she is thanked and congratulated, she says, simply, “Oh, I can clean out a room!”
In this movie, that ability is treasured.
Our family has that talent.
To clean out a room, I mean.
We just don’t do it the same way the skunk does.
I thought I should mention that.
Maybe I should explain further . . .
When our family was young and all still at home, we used to take them out once a month for ‘Adventure Food’.
We couldn’t afford to take them around the world, so we took them to different countries - gastronomically.
It was fun.
But we had six children, 11 years apart.
And usually a couple of foster children, just to round out the numbers.
Seating us required thought.
And ingenuity.
And definitely patience.
I should point out here that our children were very well behaved.
No running around.
No loud voices.
No leaning over the booth to see what the people next door were eating.
Okay, I will admit, that was my Husby, but we broke him of that habit.
Moving on . . .
We would stand quietly while the staff of this month’s chosen restaurant dashed about madly, shoving tables together and generally re-arranging the furniture.
Then we would take our places and start passing menus.
Up to and including this point, the restaurant was usually crowded.
Diners enjoying the food and the ambiance and the company.
We would order.
Now with six to eight children and two adults, this took some time and organization.
Finally, the server would tuck her notepad into her apron pocket, gather up the menus, and disappear in a kitchen-ish direction.
We would relax and look around.
The restaurant would be empty.
Really.
Empty.
Every. Single. Time.
How fast can people finish their conversations and their food and disappear?
We timed them.
Five minutes.
That’s how long it took to sort through our family’s order.
On the good side, we then had the restaurant to ourselves.
On the negative side, we felt rather . . . conspicuous.
But we were Tolleys.
That didn’t bother us for long.
Not when there was good food.
And plenty of stories to tell.
Moving ahead . . .
My Husby and I swim every morning.
It’s great exercise.
And one ends up clean at the end of it.
This morning, when we got to the pool, it was crowded.
Many people sharing the six ‘business’ lanes.
We joined the queue.
And started swimming.
When we had finished our respective routines, we got out and walked to the hot tub for a soak.
And realized that we had that small pool to ourselves.
Then we looked around.
And realized that we had the entire room to ourselves.
Everyone had left.
Everyone.
We had done it again.
All of this time, we had figured that the sheer numbers that made up our family had scared people away.
In reality, it had been us.
Who knew?

18 comments:

  1. I love well behaved children in restaurants. I've even paid for their meal as I left. How rude of fellow diners not to stay and enjoy a table full.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They could have enjoyed our stories, too. All of our kids are story tellers. I wish we could have met you in our travels! There would have been at least one other person in the restaurant!

      Delete
    2. I would have had eight kids in tow. But that's another story.

      Delete
    3. Love to hear that one, Joanne!!!

      Delete
  2. My mother was the 9th of 14 children. I don't think they EVER went out to eat. :-)

    And I congratulate you on your well-behaved children. It's a skill -- and a service to the country.

    Pearl

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 14 kids?! I wonder how they went anywhere!!! We had a 12 passenger van. You'd have to tie kids to the roof! Our kids really were good in public. They saved all of their hi-jinks for home!!!

      Delete
  3. Hmmm, interesting phenomenon, Diane! Now if this were happening to my family (full of sons), I'd wonder if someone had a flatulence problem! Of course, that's certainly not the case for you and yours. ;) Thanks for the cute post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You have a very good point, Beth. There's clearing out a room and CLEARING OUT A ROOM! I think my kids could have done it both ways!!!

      Delete
  4. Somehow I can't believe that is true. I always say I don't believe in coincidences... but I think this time I will make an exception. :)

    I love the picture of you both!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! You're so kind! I like to hope it's coincidence . . . :)

      Delete
  5. Congratulations in raising such well behaved children, there are people who have one child and they are not as behaved:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was the threat of leaving the restaurant if anyone so much as peeped. It made model citizens of them all!

      Delete
  6. Oh, I can't believe it was just you two!

    Being one of 7 kids, I can understand this perfectly. We will also go out as a large group with our entire grown up family-about 34 of us. Talk about turning heads when we go into a restaurant!

    I do have to laugh, though. When we were younger, my middle brother didn't like to sit with us because we caused such a stir when we entered the restaurant. My parents never allowed him to, though. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our middle son was embarrassed by us as well! :) I love going with our group into a restaurant. I know the 'turned heads' scenario to a quiver!

      Delete
  7. Diane, as far as I'm concerned, you, your Husby and your family have a super power! And I want it! My goodness, I yearn for silence and tranquility at a restaurant! And in the pool! The world's not ready for all this jelly! hee hee! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You make me laugh, Bella! You can follow us around if you like . . . :)

      Delete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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