When we were children, we would sometimes have friends at home but not as frequently as we would have wanted. Reason for the infrequency? Our house was “far”, it being in the town next to Bacolod rather than in Bacolod where most of my friends lived. How far was it? It was a 15-minute drive to school. By today’s standards that would be so near, but back then, I guess its being outside the city had a psychological effect and earned the label of being “far”. Regardless, what I do remember is that each time we had guests, they were fed – oh, that sounds like they were pigs, so let me rephrase that, they were served food. I do not recall what now. AH yes, cheese pimiento sandwich. A friend who would sometimes come then would, years later when we were adults, remember the cheese pimiento sandwich and the brazo de mercedes. My best friend L still recalls eating powdered milk at home. Read that again: eating powdered milk. How’s that? Vir, my yaya cum cook, would heat powdered milk (Birch Tree) with sugar in a pan. And it was very good.
So why this post now? Last night, son had friends over. As these same friends had not touched the dinner I had prepared for them visits back, causing us to end up with reheated food for many meals thereafter, I chose to prepare lettuce wrap (a korean dish)that we’d share if they came. Funnily enough, there wasn’t much left after husband, son and I had it. And the first guest came at 8. Son said he was sure this friend had had dinner at home, but to be sure, I asked HHA to ask him. Confirmed. Still, by force of habit and upbringing, I had two tiny choco cupcakes with raspberry jam served him. As the rest of the group came later, I didn’t bother serving them. They were here to practice.
This am, I asked HHA in son’s presence if the first guest had eaten the choco cupcakes. Only one, she said, the second was untouched. And the jam was untouched too. Son said, “See? I told you not to prepare food for them.” He added that it was guest number two who had eaten the cupcake, and not number 1. I don’t know why the boycott; so I asked son, is number one on a diet? He said yes, but still I wonder. Are son’s friends avoiding having meals here because they’ve turned shy suddenly? They used to eat what was served them heartily. Did they have a bad experience with the food here? I hope not.
Still I wanted to have the last say. After giving my spiel some thought, I told son that I would continue to serve his friends food, no matter how miniscule, because it was the proper thing to do.
I’m sure I’ve blogged how in college my friends and I went to a classmate’s house and weren’t served anything, not even candy. We were there to do a project. But I was thirsty, so I asked for water. When that classmate came to the house, my mother entertained her. And gave her fresh lumpia which Vir had just finished making for my birthday dinner that night. That friend demurred and I felt so insulted for Mama. I guess that was my friend’s upbringing too – don’t serve food to guests when there’s no party, don’t eat in anyone’s house when there’s no party? Different strokes for different folks – proof number 1.
Proof number 2: someone went to the house of his friend’s relative to do some work for the relative’s project, gratis et amore. Time of meeting: 6:30. Was he served food? No. Then friend, the common link, arrived and asked soundlessly if he had been fed. The answer was no. Friend had food brought over from her house so the one who went to relative’s house because of her endorsement could eat. Take note of the time of the meeting which ended around I don’t know what time. And take note of the other surrounding circumstances.
Citing the more recent experience, I told son I’d rather serve food to guests even if they ignore it, than not serve them anything at all – regardless of the time of day they come, their purpose. He was quiet.
I hope he got my point and lives by my “standard”.
Wait, on further reflection, maybe it is a regional thing? (Province vs metropolis?) An economic issue (rich vs. middle class vs poor – I’m sure you have experienced seeing the last sector eating or about to eat and inviting you to join them? “Kaon ta!” – in our dialect. Even the househelp do that to us sometimes. And whenever I go to the tindahan of a former HH, she’d always give me a bottle of ice-cold soda.) Whatever. I still maintain that serving one’s guests something, anything, is the proper thing to do.
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Post Script: I know I talk the most in our household, so sometimes, when husband tells me to tell something to son, I’d tell him, “do it yourself”. Once I did just that and he said “but he doesn’t listen to me”. I mulled over that and realized that somehow, son also doesn’t listen to me sometimes. I told husband so. Then after some thought, I said, “But I still speak my mind.”
Now why do I do that? I guess there are at least two reasons:
a) I want to let it out
b) I hope that he’s actually listening and will learn from another of my sermons/thoughts/positions on some important matter.