Dinner is served and you’re served too

By Tiber

Dad has always insisted that everybody bring an interesting contribution for the dinner table conversation.

I think his initial plan was for us to be able to hold our own at dinner parties. Of course, since “interesting” is the only criterion, a lot of the things we’ve come up would only get us thrown out of dinner parties.

When we were little, a lot of our offerings came from two categories. 1) waste products and 2) strange animals. Dad would gamely try to expand on them and after Duncan’s first two-headed animal story, Dad said,

“You know, in the 19th century, showmen like P.T. Barnum would display oddities like that in an extra-pay sideshow.”

Vanessa: “Oh, come on, Dad. They called them freak shows!”

Kru: “Duncan goes to freak shows!”

Duncan: “You are a freak show!”

Vanessa: “Well, you’re just a freak! Without the show!”

Me: “But he could bet on something in a freak show! Win, place or show!”

Iris Nell: “He’d hurt the sad little two-headed creature!”

Vanessa: “No, he wouldn‘t! The animal would be two brains up on him!”

Iris Nell: “That’s not nice to say!…Just make it one and a half.”

Duncan: “I could open a good sideshow with a quarter of a brain!”

Kru: “It’s a freak show! Freak show!”

Duncan: “You’re a freak show!”

I knew early on that no one from the Algonquin was going to be calling.

But maybe Dad was right. Maybe these talks did somehow expand our minds.

That one idiotic exchange alone contained biology, biography, history, entrepreneurship, capitalism, horse-racing, math and good old sibling self-defense.


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