I suppose this entry should be entitled “Eat With Their Hands,” but that sounds almost acceptable. After all, mankind surely ate with their hands for centuries before developing ingenious mechanisms for coping with dinner, right? And that’s exactly my point. BRILLIANTLY OPERATIONAL DEVICES EXIST FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE. And boys could not care less.
Boys have the worst table manners of any species ever to be studied by scientists. There is not another living creature capable of hosing up a dinner table setting any more than a few boys. And at the center of this vortex of table destruction is the continual effort of boys to ignore perfectly functional utensils in favor of eating with their hands. They eat everything with their hands. I’m not talking about hunks of chicken, stray peas (profoundly labeled “escapeas” by my college bud Chris – a term I still use reverently to this day) and spaghetti noodles. I’m talking about everything. EVERY. SINGLE. THING.
For illustration purposes, here is a list of things I have scolded my boys for eating with their hands at our table. After the first few, I assured myself that it couldn’t possibly get worse. Of course it did. So I started keeping track:
- cottage cheese
- scrambled eggs
- vegetable soup
And these are just a few of the highlights. If boys eating had their own version of Sportscenter, this list would be the “Top Plays” segment:
“And topping our list this week, once again, is Nicholas in Florida with this specTACular play on vegetable soup. Mom and dad distracted for the shortest moment by baby sister throwing french bread and he has JUST enough time to make his move…right in there, for a handful of carrots and barley. Just look at that drippage, Stu… Luscious.”
Seriously, vegetable soup? The last morsel of french toast, that I can understand. But vegetable soup? I’ve quit asking them why they want to eat soup or butter or cottage cheese with their hands, because all I get is the look. Instead I just say something like “C’mon, man. Don’t eat soup with your hands.” Then my wife and I give each other that “Let’s go on vacation and come back when these kids are 24” stare.
Indeed, vegetable soup boy Nicholas is so prolific in his personal hand-eating skill set that our family has created a new superhero especially for him. We call him “Bad Manners Man.” If you say it in an extremely dramatic, old-timey radio announcer voice and listen to this clip on youtube in the background, you can get the full effect. And you wonder how bad his manners are? Come on. You don’t think 33 million people actually viewed that ridiculous video, do you? Our family has personally played that thing 31.2 million times during meals in the last 4 years. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Nicholas seems to enjoy this moniker, and will even introduce himself to strangers by touting his credentials. “Hi, I’m Nicholas. I’m five. Me and my brother are twins. I’m Bad Manners Man.” It’s kind of embarrassing. People look at me quizzically, at which point I just shrug and say “He eats butter with his hands.” Whatever.
The worst part of boys ignoring utensils, however, is not that it’s messy. The worst part is that it just makes no sense. Have you ever tried to eat applesauce with your hands? Zero sense. It’s not like you can pick up some applesauce with your dainty little fingers like nuts and pop a few in your mouth. Nope. Boys will shove the entire hand in there, all four fingers and part of the thumb, dumping applesauce like one of those giant backhoe dirt movers, with beeping construction noises in the background. They look like cavemen, all squatting around some prehistoric bonfire, loincloth draped between their knees, shoving meat broth into their mouth with all four fingers. In fact, perhaps that’s the perfect costume I’ve been looking for…the final element to complete the package of “Bad Manners Man.”
Go ahead. Say it out loud and play the music again. You know you want to.