Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Common Trough

Dad at College.
My Dad attended college in Guelph, Ontario.
Training to be a veterinarian.
His schooling there was fascinating.
His life in the off-school hours, even more so . . .
I should mention, here, that dad, the last child in a very large ranching family, had been raised with order.
And a degree of meticulousness.
Something he didn’t realize until he moved ‘out into the world’.
Back to my story . . .
Dad had secured a room at one of the local homes for the duration of his stay.
He and another Vet student happily carted in their belongings.
Met the family. Mom. Dad. Kids.
Settled in.
Appeared for their first breakfast.
And were immediately introduced to the differences in accepted family table practices.
At first, all went well.
Good food. Plenty of it.
Then, the son of the family grabbed a piece of toast and reached for the large jar of jam.
Taking the spoon that had been provided, he scooped out a large dollop and dropped it onto his toast.
Then he licked off the spoon.
And shoved it back into the jar.
Others in the family proceeded to do the same.
Dad blinked.
And decided he’d have his toast without jam that morning.
Then that same young man poured himself a large glass of milk.
Drank some.
And poured the rest back into the jug.
Something that also turned out to be a common family practice.
Dad, wincing slightly, avoided the milk.
And anything else on the table that became ‘communal’.
I don’t want to say that Dad was fastidious but . . .
Okay, Dad was fastidious.
I think I would have been the same.
Two weeks in, he and his roommate decided they simply couldn’t take it any longer.
And said roommate decided that Dad should be the one to tell their landlady.
Sigh.
In what was one of the most uncomfortable moments of his life to that date, he gave notice to the thoroughly-dismayed woman.
“But the semester’s started!” she moaned. “I’ll never fill my rooms now!” She looked at Dad. “Why?!” she asked.
Ugh, the question he had most been dreading.
Haltingly, he explained.
She stared at him.
Then let him go.
Happily, Dad and his roommate settled into other housing.
The food wasn’t as good, but it was a little less . . . shared.
And in case you’re wondering if that poor woman managed to secure new boarders, the answer is yes.
A few weeks later, Dad was talking to some fellow classmates and discovered that one of them was actually living in his old digs.
Dad asked – a trifle hesitantly – about the table manners there.
Fine. Perfect, even.
So either, that young man was accustomed to the common trough, or the landlady had taken Dad’s concerns to heart.
The result was the same.
Everyone was happy.
And well fed.
And that’s really all that counts.
Dad learned lots of things at college.

But the first was: ‘Share the sustenance. Not the Saliva!’
Yep.

12 comments:

  1. Well, we can't have a jammy spoon put back into the jammy jam, now can we? :)

    Ew! Ew! I have a sudden urge to scrub my tongue!!

    Your father did very well to answer the landlady's question. I'm not sure I would have been able to!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me, neither. I think I would have simply packed my things and left. Through the bedroom window . . .

      Delete
  2. Wonder if they were supposed to share the same towel in the bathroom?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ewwwwww! Okay, now that's another image I'll never get out of my brain . . .

      Delete
  3. I don't think your dad is at all fastidious. Good word by the way, haven't heard that one in quite a while. Like you said, share the sustenance, not the saliva. Ugh! My mum used to reach over and take a taste of my drink in a cafe sometimes if I was having something different from her. She never understood why I couldn't continue drinking and I learned to always order the same as her or just water. It's just way too personal, to be sharing something your mouth has touched.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am with your Dad, I could not have lived there. I could not share saliva. As usual an entertaining story, thanks.
    Blessings!

    ReplyDelete

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