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

They look normal to me . . .


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 should 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.



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.


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?


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Comment by Diane Stringam Tolley on April 30, 2012 at 12:59pm

Thank you, Gerry! Welcome to the neighbourhood!

Comment by Gerry Miller on April 30, 2012 at 11:14am

What fun this is!  I'm glad I discovered your blog and I hope to read more in the future.


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