The Shocking Meal Miss Manners Doesn’t Want You To Know About

by Jason Kotecki on · 15 comments

As casual as our culture sometimes seems, we are still quite uptight in many areas. Much of it comes from caring about what other people think of us.

Young children, of course, have no such concerns. They dance openly with reckless abandon, would happily wear princess dresses to the supermarket, and wouldn’t think twice about picking their nose right in front of you.

While not always appealing, their actions underscore — quite dramatically — this fact: they really don’t care what you think.

As we grow up, it’s super hard to keep that mindset. I often try to remind myself of John Maxwell’s 18/40/60 rule, which states: “When you’re 18, you worry about what everybody is thinking about you. When you’re 40, you don’t give a darn what anybody else thinks of you. When you’re 60, you realize that nobody has been thinking about you at all!”

Adultitis thrives when we wrap ourselves in cocoons of inhibition. It’s happy when we are overly cautious, timid, and obedient to the rules that don’t exist. Especially when there is no reason to be.

I often share a simple idea during my speaking programs, and I invite you to try it as well. Next time you have spaghetti…don’t use plates. Just plop the spaghetti in the middle of the table, and have the meal participants pull their portions toward themselves. (An audience member once dubbed this “Barbarian Spaghetti,” which I love.) Few ideas have the power to divide a room in an instant like this one does. The moment I mention it, some people’s eyes light up with eager anticipation. Most recoil in the horror of the mess that’s sure to be made. (And what the neighbors might think!) Even my suggestion of using a plastic tablecloth to make clean-up a breeze does little to convince them.

But every once in a while, someone runs with it, and I get photos like the one above, with stories like this, from Lisa Johnson of Minnesota. She wrote:

“My daughter and I enjoyed your visit to Mankato's St. Joseph the Worker church. We had to surprise the other two members of the family with a Spaghetti dinner for my daughter Amber's birthday. She had so much fun dumping the noodles on the table and spreading the sauce all over. I think it has inspired many others on my Facebook page to try the same thing! Great idea!”

It IS a great idea, but all I can take credit for is sharing it, just like Lisa did. Because an audience member once shared it with me.

Sometimes we attribute courage with fighting cancer, leaving an abuser, or taking a bullet for someone else. And indeed, these are courageous acts of the highest level. But sometimes being courageous simply means being willing to do something a little unconventional regardless of what others might think of us.

Would the idea of Barbarian Spaghetti make Miss Manners hyperventilate and possibly slip into a coma? Probably.

Is it messy and cheap and simple and silly and childlike and fun?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

And what are the odds that the participants will have created a scene they will not soon forget?

Exactly.


by Jason Kotecki

Jason Kotecki is an artist, author, and professional speaker. Jason and his wife Kim (a former kindergarten teacher) make it their mission in life to fight Adultitis and help people use strategies from childhood to design lives with less stress and more fun. Stop by www.KimandJason.com for more tips for escaping adulthood.
Jason Kotecki
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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer Richardson March 13, 2012 at 11:49 am

oh! OH! This is the most gloriously delicious idea
and makes me ridiculously happy!!!
Bright THANKS for this glad wallow in aliveness:)
grinning and grateful,
Jennifer

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Jason of Kim & Jason March 23, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Happy to hear. Your comment alone made me smile 🙂
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Jon Mertz March 14, 2012 at 9:32 am

What a simple, fantastic way to enliven a meal and enable creativity! This will be on my list to try at home!
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Jason of Kim & Jason March 23, 2012 at 12:55 pm

I look forward to hearing how it goes, Jon!
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Audra Krell March 14, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Great, fun idea. I think there should be no forks….you have to eat with your hands too. If you’re going to do something, go all the way!
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Jason of Kim & Jason March 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm

That is an idea that people have tried, Audra. I recommend it for the brave people who are all-in when it comes to defeating Adultitis!
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Noel March 15, 2012 at 1:12 am

Wow… that’s interesting! It indeed requires some bravery to do so. Mm.. You made me want to think of a list of simple or small courageous act that can be done everyday. I think by doing so we can increase our confidence and spice up our life too! Thanks for sharing Jason 🙂
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Jason of Kim & Jason March 23, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Glad to be a tiny spark of inspiration, Noel!
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Deeone Higgs March 15, 2012 at 11:23 am

Fabulous idea, Jason! I loved not only the barbarian spaghetti dinner idea, but also the meaning behind this post. We, as a society, have and continue to allow what others think drive us into a conformity that is almost sickening to me. The fear of stepping outside of the norm paralyzes some people to boredom. I believe we were meant to live as fully and freely as humanely possible; and yes, we can certainly learn a lot from children. They show us how programmed we’ve become as adults, and also the little subtle ways that we can break free of that programmed mindset – if indeed we really want to break free of it. Thanks for such an awesome post, my friend. I truly enjoyed this free spirited post. I think I’ll have spaghetti tonight. 😀
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Jason of Kim & Jason March 23, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Deeone,
Sickening is indeed a good word. And I love this quote: “The fear of step­ping out­side of the norm par­a­lyzes some peo­ple to bore­dom.” Sad but true. Hooray to those of us allergic to boredom 🙂
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Galen Pearl March 15, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Love the 18-40-60 concept. Since I just turned 60 this year, it puts me in my place–ha!
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Jason of Kim & Jason March 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm

LOL.
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Alex Aguilar March 16, 2012 at 3:48 am

I love the barbarian spaghetti idea, but deep down I know I’ll never be able to pull it off at the family table – they’d all think I had a mental breakdown.

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Jason of Kim & Jason March 23, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Oh, you never know, Alex. Your family might surprise you 🙂
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