Family Matters with Dick and Jane

The worst sound in the world is the sound of metal scraping glass. It hurts your ears, your teeth ache, your hair stands on end. It is completely without words, how terrible it is. Yet, it seems, no matter where you are eating, there is always somebody who scrapes their fork or spoon with vigor, as if their food will not taste as good if they do not. Such was the case at dinner every night.

Mother and father are smiling at each other and laughing. What they are laughing at is unknown, but it is probably charming or amusing. Mother and father like to use these words, though they are condescending. Maybe that's why they use them.

Brother is slouched in his chair defiantly. I wish I could slouch like he does without getting yelled at, but it is not lady like. This is a phrase that my mother uses more than what is necessary. I do not understand the purpose of it, being lady like.

Father compliments mother on the wonderful dinner. I refrain from pointing out that it looks and tastes like hospital food, all bland and sterile and healthy. This would be un-lady like and would get me yelled at. It seems I spend too much of my time being yelled at.

Mother used to be a teacher, before she got pregnant with my brother. I am four years older than him, so I barely remember these times. Every so often, when my father is not in the room, she mentions (always barely above a whisper) that she misses her days as a teacher. She misses getting up to something besides more laundry. I do not blame her, though I would never say this out loud, I pity her and her status as a housewife.

My father is a business man, the key word being "busy". He is only home on weekends, making brief appearances for family dinner only. I do not think anybody misses him when he is gone. I certainly do not.

We sit here at the dinner table, all of us smiling politely at each other. Are interactions are not familiar at all, they are the interactions of people that do not really know each other at all and are only around each other out of necessity alone. I do not know or understand why this is. Is this what other families are like? I do not know the answer to this, but I do not care enough to ask.

The meat loaf is much too dry to be edible.

Our eyes are glazed over and our smiles are fake.

Mother makes a comment about the weather, brother slouches, father chuckles suavely.

"May I be excused?"