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

by Jason Kotecki on · 15 comments

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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
View all posts by Jason Kotecki

{ 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. :D
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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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