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Filtering by Tag: rules

Ice Cream Camp

Suzanne Pollak

Cliftonville, Kent c. 1954

Cliftonville, Kent c. 1954

Mom would never knowingly sign Little Man up for Ice Cream Camp but sometimes parents cannot control what happens when kids are away from home!

Camp began as soon as mom dropped the toddler at her parents. She met them at a midpoint burger joint and they insisted on the first order of business: double chocolate milkshakes all around. After dinner, apparently, a trip to the local peach shed complete with ice cream cones. Wait? How much ice cream did you say? How many times a day!? When word got back to Dad, a chef, he had a fit because he does not approve of so much sweet dairy introduced to his youngster’s taste buds. 

However, parents beware: grandparents have rights too! When the grandchildren visit, grandparents are entitled to make their own rules. And grandparent’s rules and plans cannot be the same as the parents. What’s the point of that? We like the idea of no rules for the seven and under crowd.

There is a time and place for creating a few elysian days. Everyone deserves a streak of nothing but fun and games, no matter what age. Parents get a break and the generations on either side get time out too.  Parents need time on their own of course, but so do kids. I am sure my children wanted, needed, craved breaks from my stifling summer rules — swim team twice a day, one hour of reading, no Nintendo, no TV. FYI they all turned out fine with no damage at all in the fun part.

P.S. Rest assured that when Little Man returned home all buzzed out, Mom and Dad immediately enrolled him in Veggie Boot Camp. (Pro. Tip: VEG out your eggs at breakfast, whether its mushrooms and something green sautéed on the side, or diced alliums and sweet peppers mixed in.)

Don’t you wonder how that turned out?

Expand your Base

Suzanne Pollak

Now is the time to  broaden your social horizons.

Make a point to meet someone interesting every single week, someone you want to get to know better. You never know what might develop down the road, or whom you might eventually meet through this person. Perhaps a professional (or even personal) connection will spark.

Rule #1: Make that first date short, a half hour for coffee or tea. Building a long relationship begins with tiny steps.

Rule #2: Remember to leave them wanting more of you, not less -- which means don’t overstay your welcome, make any type of demands, or in any way ask for a favor. In fact, the only things you are allowed to ask are questions about this new person.

Rule #3: Report back to the Academy on how quickly your life is improved by this simple practice....

Important Election Season P.S.A.

Suzanne Pollak

It's inappropriate to talk about current politics at any dinner party, ever, or even worse, to assume that everyone you know thinks like you do. Almost always the topic (along with sex and religion, categorically) leads to disaster, outrage, gnashing of teeth. We entertain our friends and go to parties to relax and enjoy ourselves, not to get blood boiling. 

When you are at a party and the talk goes to politics, even when everyone agrees with each other, turn to your neighbor and begin another subject or else take a break. Find the powder room, find seconds, find another bottle of wine. There are finer things to discuss during social situations. 


Suzanne Pollak

F.O.M.O. Folks! You are missing out if you do not know it is NOT okay to serve yourself first, yourself only, yourself continuously. The modern approach to eating is gluttonous. 

How to tell if you (or  your partner) are a glutton? Use your eyes, pay attention, look around the table!

  • Serving yourself wine first is not only greedy, it is gluttony.
  • Do not keep helping yourself to the platter of food at the table or sideboard when others have stopped eating. No one needs three helpings, or four, or even five. (Except teenagers, whose bodies are gluttons for food and sleep.) It’s appalling to sit at a table with others, with the platter of food in front of you, and act like that platter is your personal portion.
  • As a guest, you should not help yourself to seconds unless the host asks you if you want more. If this sounds like your partner (or you) then he/she may as well sit in the corner with a Dunce Hat. 

Dinner Parties Gone Wrong

Suzanne Pollak

Wondering what to do when a dinner party goes south?

  • DON'T do what Bravo’s Southern Charmers did at Thomas Ravenel’s: look and linger. When a train wreck happens, move fast A.S.A.P. Of course it’s mesmerizing to watch an explosion, but the smart money doesn't. They leave and want no part of a coming disaster. They run, run, run out the door if they are guests who have the option to do so...* 
  • DO "keep calm and carry on" if you find yourself host to a train wreck. The Dean once had a guest who threw a tantrum right at her dinner table. The conversation involved politics (might well happen this year, beware!) Said guest lost his cool and bolted. If this happens to you, there is a positive -- people will never forget the evening. To keep things from following suit, simply pretend like nothing happened. The rest of the guests are waiting to see what you do. Guests take their cue from their captain.

*Luckily behavior this bad is a reality on reality shows only and not likely to occur at any real life dinner party. 

Shut the Fork Up! It Goes Where?

Suzanne Pollak

Photographed by Landon Neil Phillips for Local Palate, Spring 2016.

Photographed by Landon Neil Phillips for Local Palate, Spring 2016.

How important is it to set the fork on the left side of the plate? A very reasonable question recently asked to the Dean, and naturally the Dean has answers, two actually, both completely correct. 

If you are a young professional moving up in the world, planning on making your mark, the answer to the question is that placement of the fork is of upmost importance. Let's say you did not learn how to set a table and it escaped your notice where a fork goes. Sadly you may be marked as a person who has no clue about table manners, and perhaps even as one who is confused in other life skills, business matters, political savvy, social situations -- however incorrect these assumptions may be. Therefore, you must master the seemingly insignificant fork placement to be the person you want to portray. 

Now, if you are an older person, say as old as the Dean, it makes little difference where you place your fork. Because you know the rules, and have abided by them forever, you now have the choice to go off pist and do exactly what you want. Say you are running late for your own dinner party and arrive minutes before guests knock on the door. It is perfectly okay for you to put the pot on to boil, place a pile of silverware on the table and pour cocktails without missing a beat. You are not even required to set the table, instead ask your guests to sit down and help themselves to their own fork. Not only will your dinner be delightfully relaxed, you will be known as chic, sui generis, and possessing your own style. 

Manners and etiquette must be learned and adhered to to make our society work, including where that damn fork is placed, but once you learn the rules you are allowed to break them when you have already made your mark on the world. Got it?