The kitchen table was the gathering spot: a destination unto itself. No fancy parlors for us. And no real agendas; although financial reports, the status of initiatives and informal feedback were often part of the proceedings. And personal status was shed with coats and boots at the door. Everyone had an equal say and the right to laugh. These were gabby times of philosophy, plans, ideas, sports scores, the never neglected weather reports and the idlest of who-did-what-to-who and what-they-did-back chatter.
It was common courtesy to save the chair at the table that was closest to the "golden triangle" of fridge/stove/sink for the host; to allow them to move freely to fetch for their guests. Or to putter without tripping over others while you gabbed, with the open chair always at the ready to sit a spell between duties.
And being at a table in a kitchen also meant there was always the calming potential of food close by even if you weren't there to eat. Maybe it was the lingering odor of the Campbell's cream of tomato soup left over from lunch or there was dinner cooking and we all got to watch and enjoy the heady aromas drifting from the oven or the pot: a gift in itself. And once you'd sat in a friend's kitchen a few times you got to know where things were kept. Just the thought of knowing their saltines were kept in the cupboard above the fridge in case you wanted one or two was a source of comfort because you knew if you wanted one all you had to do was ask. And the ready answer was always "Sure!"
And then you could say, "It's okay, I'll get them myself."
It was almost better if you weren't there for a meal because meals meant they had an end and then it was over and you were supposed to get up from the table. When you were just there sitting around the table there was no formal end. And no dishes to offer to help wash up. If coffee cups and glasses were all that were involved all courtesy demanded was just to place them in the sink when it was time to go. And time to go was flexible. Time hung on a "gotta go" or a "freshen up your cup?"
I can remember many kitchen table talks. Different kitchens and friends of various ages in an assortment towns and cities; we were the kitchen table people. Put the coffee on or fire up the kettle or, especially on hot summer days, pop the cap off a nice cold one or two. Ashtrays and splatters of milk and bottle caps and spoons surrounded by sugar galaxies adorned the tabletop with pets at your feet, top hits from the am/fm radio on the counter and sometimes kids running in and out of the room marking ends to various excursions and the start of new adventures. New folks popped their heads in the back door at times with a smile and a "Hi-how-are-ya" and joined the clutch to add fresh fodder to the proceedings. Often chairs had to be found from other rooms and dragged in to allow seats to be properly parked. And spur-of-the-moment talk fests ensued. Conversations that, on a cold winter day, visit me in remembered expressions, gales of laughter, pep talks, and the occasional tear – always surrounded with warm smiles and better tomorrows to come.
Anyway, there's no point to today's post. Those who have sat around a kitchen table with me will know there doesn't have to be one.
Just shooting the breeze.