For certain picky Irish children, having dinner at a friend’s house unleashed a torrent of anxiety that didn’t end when your parents came to pick you up.
Your friend’s parents could never know that you dreaded the whole ordeal. But you did.
You were there to have the craic with your friend, not sit solemnly around the dinner table with their mam, dad, and assorted siblings. Jeez.
The ‘dinner’ smell undoubtedly making you gag
This is a cold hard fact: Dinner smell is terrible, awful, absolutely not good – unless it is your own family’s dinner smell.
The minute you walked in the door, you could smell the meat being overcooked. You could sense the life being boiled out of the veg.
Being questioned about what you did and did not eat
“Would you eat peas?”
“No, I don’t really like peas either.”
And silently debating how much you could reasonably refuse
Eventually, you had to wilt and pretend to like at least one thing you were usually vehemently opposed to.
Now you’ve done it, you fool.
Having to say Grace
Every so often you’d discover that a particular friend’s gaff is a Praying Gaff.
Best mumble along, while resisting the urge to sing “BLESS US OH LORD AS WE SIIIIIT TOGETHER!” like you did in Junior Infants.
The very real possibility of being given something you Did Not Eat
You said no cabbage. But there’s the cabbage, steaming on your plate, touching all your precious potatoes.
Watching your friend happily mill through their food…
…While you found extremely creative ways of pushing yours around
“Would you like some more cabbage?” “Oh no I’ve had LOADS, thanks.”
The awkward small talk
My favourite subjects? English, Maths, and Please Stop Talking To Me.
“Oh, are you finished?”
Yes Mrs Murphy. Although my plate is practically full, I am finished.
Now I am a beacon of shame.
And the interrogation from your own parents afterwards
Well, did you eat the broccoli? And did you say thank you? Does Mary Murphy think that they don’t feed you vegetables at home?
Please. Leave us be. We have much, much to recover from.