We are just back from a trip featuring a couple of nights in the Grand Hotel on Mackinac (pronounced “Mackinaw”) Island, and I feel a need to confess a pretense to my closest friends.
Dinnertime came and I wore a sophisticated veneer as the well-dressed waiter in the Grand Hotel shook out the white cloth napkin and placed it in my lap. I hoped my Mona Lisa smile indicated this was an everyday occurrence.
I did not flinch when I perused the menu. “Read” would be a poor description considering the words outside my normal vocabulary. Thanks to good phonics teachers in my mother and my first-grade teacher Mrs. Winter and a lifelong love of language, I could get close enough not to eat anything really strange, though I am game to try new dishes.
A few home ec classes left me unintimidated by the array of silverware that surrounded my plate. Mrs. Jones’s voice echoed in my ear, “Start on the outside and work your way in.” The first fork served my appetizer of crab and asparagus quiche. I knew to indicate that I had finished each course by laying my utensils across my plate.
Though I don’t know who made up such an inane rule, I carefully dipped my spoonful of roasted butternut squash soup away from me to the far side of the bowl and used the second fork for the salad course. I glanced around, and so far, my façade seemed to be holding.
I cut my prime rib properly one or two bites at a time using the third fork and my knife. Though it was tempting, I did not scarf down the tasty lemon tart but tried to eat delicately with the desert fork at the top of my plate.
In the end, I either pulled off the deception to Mrs. Jones’s satisfaction, or the waiters and my companions were too polite to acknowledge that they were aware that underneath the fake polished exterior was a pig-tailed girl who ran barefoot over the red clay hills of North Mississippi. Nor will I tell the fine people at the Grand Hotel that while I enjoyed pretending for a couple of nights, I am glad to be home with the possibility of homemade vegetable soup and cornbread and only one each of a knife, a soup spoon, and a paper napkin.