A 12yo girl named Amber and her parents are neighbors of mine. One person gave her a monitor and another loaned her a computer, and she wanted to hook up to the internet. Being unsuccessful, the landlady suggested she come to me for help. I mostly acted as an advisor while Amber did all the shopping and wiring and softwaring, and finally succeeded in getting herself on line. Good for her! She's a smart and resourceful kid.
Her parents thought to do something nice for me in return, so they invited me to have dinner with them before I worked on their computer one evening. The meal was steak, baked potato with sour cream and salad with blue cheese dressing. How did they know blue cheese is my favorite? The steak was lean and tender and the potato was perfect. Yum! I gobbled it up!
Amber's dad growls and barks and swears at his wife, daughter and pit bull every time he speaks to them in front of me, and loudly, too. Of course, he was polite to me that evening, so I talked as soothingly as I could. During dinner, Amber's mom reminded “everyone” that they didn't have to eat everything on their plates. Nevertheless, it was late, I was very hungry and had spent a couple of hours on the project, so I cleaned my plate.
Being preoccupied with chatting and watching TV, and eating, I wasn't paying attention to what everyone else was dining on. As we finished our meal, Amber asked her dad if he had saved her any meat and he replied “Hell no!” It sounded to me like he said it, not with anger, but more like satisfaction. Puzzled, I looked around at Amber's and her mother's plates and realized they were not eating steak. Only Amber's dad and I had meat that night; they had served me her mother's steak. Possibly, Amber might not get meat with her meals on occasion. What I thought was her mom's platitude about not eating everything was actually a plea to share, and I had missed it. Amber and her mom would have had some meat with dinner had her father been more generous and I more alert.
They don't make much money. Amber's mom is a maid at the trailer park, and I suspect her dad works at minimum wage jobs too. I had forgotten what it is like to grow up so poor that dinner might be sparse and “uneven.” I am reminded of a pride of lions, where selfish alpha males eat first and only afterward are females and young allowed to feed on the leftovers.