Texas has some great food traditions: barbecue, Tex-Mex, massive portions. But there’s one food tradition here, at least that I’ve run into, that really, really gets to me.
A couple of months ago, I went to a female teenager’s graduation party or something at some fancy house in Denton with my wife and in-laws. As the girl and her friends frolicked in the pool out back, the adults prepared the food (hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken breasts, potato salad), food that the adults, not the “kids” –– some of them were 6 feet tall –– had paid for. “Dinnertime!” came the call, and the adults, all of them, stepped aside to let the “kids” line up at the serving table and pile their plates with the hottest, choicest burgers, hot dogs, and breasts of chicken and the freshest scoops of potato salad. Only after the “kids” were done could the lowly adults –– who, need I remind you, had paid for and prepared the freaking food! –– approach the buffet to pick on whatever scraps remained.
Now you might be thinking, “Well, it was a teenager’s graduation party. Perhaps the adults allowed her friends to go first in her honor.” A nice thought but not true. The disturbing experience I had in Denton was not the first I’ve had in Texas. And probably won’t be the last. And you can call me an asshole, but as I had in similar situations, I rather forcefully inserted myself right into the “kids”’s line. I’m an adult, I helped pay for the spread, and I’ll be damned if I’m eating a cold, small burger while some spoiled brat feasts on a hot, huge one. Just ain’t happenin’. For the record, none of the other adults followed my lead. The best I can hope for, I guess, is that I offended some of them, maybe to the point of waking up and smelling the damn coffee. Under no circumstances should 17- or 18-year-olds go ahead of adults in lines, especially in lines for food, even if the kids are paying the tab, hell, even if the kids grew and harvested the crops, slaughtered the livestock, and cooked the food over fire started by chipping two stones together. Whatever happened to “age before beauty”? (The only 18-year-old I’d step aside for is an 18-year-old U.S. soldier.)
Kids today –– here, up north where I’m from, wherever –– are way too spoiled. Some are elevated to the status of gods. (“Johnny has a football game! Let’s grab the extended family to go praise Johnny and take 900 pictures of him because there’re still two or three inches of space in our house that aren’t covered by Johnny’s adorable freaking face!”) In reciprocal, many adults have become strangers in their own households: following their children around and cleaning up after them like fucking manservants. It just ain’t right.
I grew up in a blue-collar Italian-American household. We had lots of family gatherings, and lots of food was involved. Not only did we kids NOT get served first, we occasionally didn’t get served at all. Sometimes there were only so many spicy sausage sandwiches with grilled onions and green peppers to go around, and if you weren’t Gianni-on-the-spot when the last sausage was plucked off the grill, you were SOL. And you were thankful for the pleasure!
A lot of kids today aren’t even thankful. I don’t recall any of the ones in Denton thanking me.