Friday, September 10, 2010

Kitchen Table Talk

Last weekend my mom and sister came out from Texas for an all-too-brief visit. Guess where we spent most of our time for those two days?

Around the kitchen table.

Funny thing is, I didn't even do much cooking while they were here. The kitchen table isn't just about food. It's about sitting around and gabbing.

My husband didn't quite get it. He joined us from time to time, pulling up a chair and chatting sociably. But after a while he'd say, "Wouldn't you guys rather sit in the living room where it's more comfortable?"

I don't know exactly why, but the kitchen table runs deep in the female of the species. Watch at your next family gathering. Whether it's before the meal or after, the women tend to land in the kitchen, the men in the living room. You might think it's because that's where the TV is. Admittedly, the big game can be a big draw at Thanksgiving time. But I say the tradition started way before television. Read a 19th-century novel, and you're likely to see the men retire to the drawing room for brandy and cheroots, while the women ... do what? Wash dishes? Sit in a sewing circle? Faint? I don't remember.

For whatever reason, the kitchen table is the scene for female bonding.

Men don't get it. They prefer a cushy sofa to those hard-backed chairs. And maybe they are lured by the glow of television's electronic hearth -- or, in earlier days, the fireplace. Maybe it's a caveman thing.

But how does that explain us, clustered around a hard surface in those hard-backed chairs?

Maybe it's because, like it or not, the kitchen table puts us closer to the center of traditional female chores. Far from being a physical barrier, it's the perfect place to cluster around, to talk about everything and nothing. It's also a great place to rest that cup of coffee, or soda, or whatever.

I can't really explain it. It just works -- and I wouldn't trade the hours we spent there for the world.

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