By Elizabeth Newdom
“Would you act like that if you were having dinner with the queen?” my dad asked me from across the kitchen table, his eyes framed in black rectangles, his brows two arched wings.
Behind him, I could see my reflection in the display case housing my grandmother’s gold-rimmed china plates. A rush of blood filled my cheeks. For three impossible seconds, I resembled a captured animal, stuck in the blinding light of someone’s headlamps.
My eyes fell heavily upon my place mat as I continued chewing a piece of steak, trying to work through the meat’s toughness. Had I spoken out of turn?
“Don’t touch those,” he continued, pointing at the centerpiece – a glass bowl filled with ceramic vegetables.
Had I touched them? I might have nudged the fake asparagus a little closer to the pea pod and artichoke. But I said nothing. Instead, my eyes returned to the mat, my cheek color deepening into a crimson sunset.
And were we in fact royalty? I was only seven, so naturally I was confused. Perhaps, when I turned eight, the queen was going to show up with my prince. Maybe all of the table manners and social etiquette were preparation for life in someone’s faraway castle: every linen napkin, crystal water glass, and salad fork, part of an elaborate grooming process. Continue Reading…