As I listened to the rest of the dinner table express complete shock over the idea of putting peanut butter and jelly on two slices of bread and then allowing them to -gasp- touch, I knew that I was truly among my people. At one end of the wooden bench sat Anne, describing the classic brownbag lunch she’d refused to make during her time as an au pair in 1980s San Francisco. At the other end, I tried to explain that, although I personally agreed that it was totally dégueulasse, most American kids had no problem with the unusual mixture. PB&Js are actually sort of a big deal.
Or so I’m told.
A Saturday night with friends in the country home of my colleague Anne had reached that point in the evening when the other guests began asking me about American eating habits. Honestly, you’d think Americans only eat peanut butter and McDonald’s from the way the rest of the world talks about our food choices. I always preferred cheese rollups and Waffle House, but no one wants to hear something that contradicts the stereotype. I’ll just let them have this one.
Anyway, after our meal, we moved on to the real spotlight of the evening: music. Violin and guitar cases popped out from under coats and couches as we gathered around the giant wood-burning stove in the living room. Everyone paid for their dinner with a bit of classical or an Irish reel (I did both), and then we pretty much joined hands and sang Kumbayah.
Not quite, but close enough.
We didn’t go that far into the hippie abyss, but we did crowd around sheets of music to sing Serge Gainsbourg, Jimi Hendrix, Oasis, Metallica, Renaud, and just a little bit of Lynyrd Skynyrd. I let you guess which song everyone begged me to lead. The television sat dark and silent in the corner as we created our own entertainment rather than consuming someone else’s, and we didn’t sound half bad, either! We spent hours enjoying each other’s company and soaking in the smoke of the crackling logs on the stove.
Sinking deeper and deeper into the never-ending cushions of the couch, I sipped my tea and listened to Anne’s ten year old son as his fingers flew up and down his guitar. If I could have poured that moment into my mug and drunk it up, too, I would’ve.