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How To Spoil A Meal

September 18, 2014

Hey, Rod, why don’t we go to lunch next week?

Sure, Dad. That sounds great.

It wasn’t. I loved my Dad. He’s been gone about 5 years and I still miss him. But, none of his kids wanted to “go to lunch” with him.

Oh we did at first. . .before we learned.

Food is a strange ritual. We are not all that much different than our ancestors who would “break bread.” Meals become a ritual as well as a source of nourishment. Food has never been that important to me. (You Don’t Get To Pick Anymore.)

Last week I was in Richmond, Virginia. I arrived on Sunday. The rest of the team didn’t arrive until Tuesday. Monday night I was on my own for dinner. I found a local comedy club (Bottoms Up Pizza.) The Pizza was outstanding. The comedy was mixed, but everyone was enthusiastic. The comics invited me to come out to the shows for the rest of the week at various other locations.

Watching comedy is not for everyone. Tuesday night was going to be a business dinner. It wasn’t scheduled, or on anyone’s calendar as such, but with our management team in town and important clients in town, there was no way we weren’t going to dinner.

The executives left Wednesday afternoon and Wednesday night I was back trolling comedy clubs. Actually it was a bar, but a really cool bar called McCormacks.

While working for Microsoft I had a manager once whom I really didn’t get along with. (Finally Putting Down The Rock.) We both knew I was leaving his team one way or another. I dropped a comment that I really hadn’t intended to say.

You should really watch who you end up going to lunch with.

What do you mean?

The only team member you ever go to lunch with is Morgan. And she just happened to get stack ranked #1? Ahead of your senior engineers?

He had no idea. She was the one who did the inviting to lunch. There was nothing improper about it. The lunches were always very professional and above board, but he didn’t realize that Morgan was using the lunches as a way to sell him on her contributions to the team.

And to her credit, it worked. The #1 stack ranking probably netted her several thousands of dollars. It also protected her in the event of the team downsizing. You take the people at the bottom of the stack rank (like me in that case) first.

Prearranged lunches with Dad were always an opportunity for him to tell you what he thought you were screwing up on. Sometimes it was very personal. Often it was completely uncalled for. My brothers and sister eventually figured out that an invitation to lunch was the adult equivalent of a trip out behind the woodshed.

Like my clueless manager, my Dad may not have even realized he was using them that way. He didn’t want to have that talk at his house because it would be awkward. We didn’t have it at my house because he would feel at a disadvantage. So, the talks were held in a public place over soup and sandwiches. . .which eventually lost any appealing taste.

Eventually I quit accepting. I love my Dad and I knew he only wanted what was best for me, but it was hard for him to show it at times.

My adult daughter recently asked me to go to lunch. All of a sudden I was right back to being the child and fearing a tongue lashing. Did she have something negative to tell me? Was she angry about something? Was her marriage okay?

Why would she want to go to lunch with me!?!?

Turns out, she wanted to go to lunch so that she could see me and give me a chance to play with my granddaughter. No hidden agenda. No ulterior motive.

Sometimes a meal actually is about the food and company.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild.

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  1. I’ll say, that’s one thing I definitely appreciate about my mother. She always wants to take me out to dinner when she’s in town, and it’s purely to spend time with me. Meals with people are important for cementing your relationships.

  2. Cara Lee permalink

    Your father and my mother must be siblings! I thought that only happened with my mom. As we moved away from her to other states it became letters instead.

    • My dad only ever sent me one letter. It was with a check and a short request to help Grandma Venda move into the assisted living facility.

      Later in life he mellowed a lot.

      • Cara Lee permalink

        Yes, my mom is in the mellowing stage also.

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