Brand building through storytelling

Breaking my own rules

The other night I decided to indulge myself. The time had come to follow whims instead of rules, to cut loose, kick back and release my inner scamp. After packing and unpacking until my fingers ached, I deserved no less. I announced to my husband, “Tonight we’re going to do something different. We’re going to eat dinner in front of the TV.”

This was my idea of wild and crazy.

In many households, perhaps even yours, TV-side dinners are a nightly ritual. In mine they have always been verboten. When my son, and later my grandson, begged to eat a slice of pizza in front of the tube, I always said with such blistering finality that my own voice made me wince, “Absolutely not. You’ll get crumbs all over the carpet and tomato sauce on the couch.”

Where had I heard that tone before? Oh, yes, my mother. She used those very words when I pleaded to enjoy my sweet and sour meatballs in front of Highway Patrol. And she was only just getting started. As if the spectre of mess were not reason enough to turn off the TV at dinner time, there was the deadening effect of canned laugh tracks and the Pepsodent jingle on intelligent conversation. People of style wouldn’t dream of eating anywhere but the dining room table. As far as my mother was concerned, the only fitting marriage for TV and dinner was the pallid frozen fare that lesser beings ate from oil trays: swiss steak, watery mashed potatoes and overcooked peas, aptly named “TV Dinner.”

I became a devotee of old-fashioned dinner-time rituals: the table swept clear of homework and mail, the meal cooked from scratch, wine poured and cloth napkins folded (sometimes I just sort of fling them into place, but you get the idea: I’m a stickler for tradition). When we moved into tighter quarters, a downsizing so radical that we barely had space to unpack, I was forced to rethink my notion of the way things should be done. The table was buried under boxes, none ofd which contained the cloth napkins—or the pots, for that matter. We ate out night after night. We spent our evenings at so many bistro tables, assaulted by the blare of music we hadn’t chosen and conversations we didn’t want to hear, that we longed for a dinner in our own place.

So I picked up a perfectly acceptable takeout meal at our local supermarket, while my husband rented a DVD of Dexter (which has started to hook me, despite initial resistance caused by my fierce and rueful loyalty to The Sopranos).That night I knew we were home.

What I didn’t yet know was that moving had unleashed another side of myself. Our old place was elegant but a little staid; the new one is edgy and bold. Under its exposed pipes, with downtown traffic buzzing outside our door, I too became bolder in small but telling ways. I woke one morning with a craving for pancakes and a hearty side of bacon instead of my usual low-fat, high fibre cereal. First thought: I don’t eat lumberjack breakfasts; they’re all fat and starch. Second thought: what’s wrong with eating like a lumberjack today? Off I went to the local diner, where I cleaned my plate while kibbitzing with the waitress.

That night I headed for my new club, intending to burn off some breakfast calories, but I never did make it to the gym. A friend hailed me in the lounge. “Let me buy you a welcome glass of wine,” she said. I sank into the pillows and forgot all about the elliptical machine. I had broken three rules in less than a week, with a little nudge from my friend. Now, that’s a perfect reason to raise a glass of sauvignon blanc.

Posted by Rona

Leave a Reply

Stay up-to-date with Rona.

To see what’s on my mind these days, friend me on Facebook.

Miss my old site?

Visit the archive to find your favorite blog posts and Chatelaine editorials or browse my published articles. Sorry, I’m not blogging anymore.