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family adventures: meal time (part one)

June 24, 2009

As I said earlier, when my family gets together, hilarity ensues.  The best setting for this, of course, is when everyone gathers around a table for a feast.  It doesn’t even have to be a feast, any sort of food will suffice.  There were three such events on our family trip that resulted in uncontrollable laughter.

Saint John Vianney College Seminary hosted a dinner to honor the graduating seniors.  The seniors and their families were treated to delicious meal at the Crowne Plaza in Saint Paul.  They were joined by the entire seminary and staff.  After the cocktail hour, which was spent meeting the other families and an undisclosed number of seminarians, we were ushered into the hotel ballroom for dinner.

We found our table, which was in the center of the cluster of tables, and took our seats where our names were placed.  As I looked around the table, I chuckled to myself.  Before we left on the trip, Mother had raised a concern about Charles and Rosario (aka Rose) sitting next to each other.  I told her not to worry: “Mom, they are adults and know how to behave at nice events.  Besides, they know better than to sit next to each other!”  Apparently God was looking forward to an amusing evening  because Rosario and Charles were seated next to each other.

All my hopes of proper behavior were dashed early on.  Charles was, as he always is, the instigator.  Rosario couldn’t help but fall into his cunning traps.  They poked and  teased  and goaded each other all through dinner, which was most entertaining for the rest of us.  My favorite exchange was when Charles tried to encourage Rosario to keep eating.

“Charles, I’m full.  I can’t eat anymore!” after he insisted she try to clear her plate.

“Rose.  I know you can eat more than that!”  Charles said seriously.  “I believe in you.  You can eat more.”

Rose tried to convince him she really couldn’t eat anything else, but he tried a new tactic.

“Rose (which sounded more like row-zeh), I know you can fit more into your stomach.  Look,” he said pointing to her side, “there’s an open spot right there.”  Charles pointed to a potato on her plate and said, “That little potato will fit in there.  See!”  He measured the potato with his fingers and put his hand near her stomach. “It’ll fit.  Come on, Rose.  Just eat the potato.”

“No!  Charles, I’m full.”  Rose kept swatting his hand away.  “Stop!”

But Charles was having too much fun tormenting his older sister.  He speared the potato with his fork and put it near Rosario’s ribcage.  “Come on, Rose!  Look!  It fits right here.  Eat it!”

I don’t remember if my parents’ looked over, which would have put an end to it or if Rosario threatened to tell Mom that Charles was trying to impale her with his fork.  One look from either parent and Charles would have sat innocently with his hands to himself.

At one point during our meal, I leaned over and told Rosario and Charles that Mom’s one stipulation for the dinner was that the two of them NOT sit next to each other.  Rose and I enjoyed a good laugh over the ironic seating chart, but Charles thought it was the most hilarious thing ever, and he started to laugh.

We are all loud laughers as it is; Charles is by far the loudest, but that’s just his normal laugh.  He also has his hysterical laugh which is incontrollable and hyena-like, and just when you think he can’t get any louder, he does.  There we were in the middle of the room and out it came.  Heads began to turn.  This was the moment my mother was trying to avoid.  All of the seminarians and staff recognized the laugh and were able to explain to those around them what the strange noise they were hearing was and that is was “just Chuck”.  One of Charles’ former roommates came over to our table.

“Looks like someone put a quarter in Chuck!” the seminarian said, laughing.  That set Charles off again.  Thankfully, my brother’s crazy laugh is infectious.  When anyone hears it, they can’t help but laugh along with him, even if they don’t know what he’s laughing at!  Well, almost anyone: poor Mother was groaning.

The next day, we went to a reception at the Seminary.  My mom was coming out of the Ladies’ Room when she met the mother of another senior.  They introduced themselves.  The other mother said, “Oh, you were there table that kept laughing last night!  We didn’t know what you were laughing at, but we sure wanted to be at your table!!”  My dear Mother was relieved to know we weren’t a disturbance.  We were all reminded that we should never be ashamed of the gift of joy God has given our family out of fear of causing a commotion.  Instead, we need to share that gift with those around us.

Stay tuned for the other two stories of the Schwartz family sharing the joy of the Lord…

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