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Kistaro Windrider, Reptillian Situation Assessor

Unfortunately, I Really Am That Nerdy

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Culture shock
friendlysketch, Thornwolf
kistaro
I have been raised with extremely strong views on how to be a proper host. So, by my own standards, I am a fairly poor host, as I consistently fail to meet them. Now, I don't expect my standards out of anybody else- that's part of the same thing, actually; "judge not, lest ye be judged", but also an awareness that not everybody was raised with the standards.

I may be glad to be out of there, but living here has made it clear to me just how very Midwestern I am. I still haven't figured out the details of culture around here, but it's certainly highlighting the quirks of the one I left.

If someone needs a room, it's mandatory that I offer it. And when I have a guest- no matter how little lead time I had to prepare- it is my duty to provide a full meal, and using a restaurant only pushes the obligation for me to cook to some later time in the visit. I can't decline to provide any of this: if they need the space, they need the space, and it is my duty to meet that need. The space I provide needs to be uncompromisingly restful, and only limitations of space- like, say, lack of beds- is justification to not meet that standard. It's unconditional- it's nice to hope that I'd get the same treatment if I needed somewhere to stay, but I cannot expect it- after all, the cultural standards I was raised with are hardly universal.

As a result, my poorly meeting basic standards leaves guests impressed, and I still haven't figured out why. Cooking a meal is a basic expectation, although it seems to be an oddly rare skill. I really should be And my tendency to get stressed out and then sleep in is quite unacceptable.

So I guess these are the basic tenets of standard Midwestern hospitality, and I still haven't figured out what the local expectations are.

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I do understand where this comes from, I believe. It is partly a generational difference. Your hospitality standards are those of your parents, most likely, or your older female relatives. I have the same kind of standards, and so does my mate, but we are quite a bit older than you are.

Your most frequent guests are probably of your own generation. The expectations have changed radically (and not for the better in my opinion, nor, apparently, in yours.) Cooking is now considered an utterly arcane skill, too boring to bother with. Preparing a full meal either impresses younger people (by which I mean those in their 20s generally) or else appalls them. Some actually are embarrassed by it, and I find that seems to connect with their own poor eating habits. They are ashamed to admit that they never eat fresh vegetables or fruit, for instance. Their expectations in dining have been shaped by their own past experience, with parental rearing that differs from yours or mine.

In many homes over the past 20 years, food is rarely if ever prepared from individual ingredients. People literally live on takeout food, frozen convenience boxes, and what they eat away from home at restaurants. They seem to be proud of their ignorance of nutrition and cooking. You and I are going against the grain.

I don't plan to change, by the way. :)

The same applies to "sleeping space" which to me means a real bed or at least a convertible one, with real sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and a clean bathroom facility. This is apparently shocking to those who define it as room on a sofa somewhere and nothing more.

Both- I learned hospitality from my mother, and from my aunt Joyce in Indiana (where the culture is stronger- see my reply to teadragon downthread). My father cooperated, but didn't really "get" it, as far as I can tell; no surprise, as his Aspberger's tendencies are far more pronounced than mine. He doesn't object to guests, but they sure don't change his routine much.

I've had no fewer than five people tell me that I'm wasting my time cooking- a restaurant meal is cheaper than the amount of pay I'd get if I just spent the time working. But it's a valuable skill, it's a total change of pace from my real job, and in any case I'm salaried- I can work more, but I sure can't get paid more. This was true for a few proponents of "always eat out", too.

I don't think much of dicing an onion, a pepper, measuring spices, using three cans of vegetables, measuring rice, searing chicken, browning the onion, heating the vegetables, mixing the rice, dumping it in a baking dish, tossing the mostly-raw chicken on top, and shoving it in the oven for 45 minutes. That's Spanish Chicken (modulo a few spices and the "add cheese, re-bake for 5 minutes" step), and it is, to me, a simple and straightforward thing; I've had more than a few guests find it incredibly elaborate.

I'm not happy with the sleeping space I provide guests. All the beds here are taken, so our guests get the futon. At least I have clean sheets, the thing folds into a bed-like shape, it's not quite the cheapest mattress in the store, and I provide proper bedding.

I'd ramble longer, but I have to go get dinner started ;)

*grins* I approve. Believe me, it's a delight to find someone younger who does get it.

If you don't already do it, and aren't allergic to gluten or yeast or something (I seem to recall that you have some allergies,) then I commend bread baking to you. It's not really hard, nor does it take a lot of your time. But you can't hurry it, either. The dough must rise, two or three times, and is worth waiting for. But while it does that, you can be doing other stuff.

Folks are amazed that we do that. Then they taste my home made pizza, and a light goes on over their heads. XD

It was much the same for me growing up back on the west coast, and I'm still much the same way. ^^ I've had to do without having people over however, as I don't live in my own place currently, and there's no room for guests. Also the roomie is a slob, and the place isn't fit to have anyone over half the time. :p

I'm the same way. I don't know if it's a Midwestern thing or not. I like to feed my guests, and will get up early to make coffee and then cook up some eggs or pancakes or scones.

(Deleted comment)
Yep, born in St. Louis, moved from Richmond Heights to Ferguson in 4th grade. I have lots of family in Indiana, which has an even stronger culture of this, I've observed. (And it often results in large meals at a moment's notice, including family and/or friends and/or neighbors, especially the mentally retarded man- who is hired as a source of physical labor, and paid by the entire community looking after his affairs, including food. Real food, from peoples' gardens and family farms, not canned food bank stuff.)

My mother considers me to be a reasonable cook, but we both know she's way better than I am at it. She wanted to be sure I could cook for myself, and I can, and what's "reasonable" to her is surprisingly far up the skill levels here. Given that I had people complimenting me on cooking spaghetti from a box with sauce from a jar and sausage from the freezer as more complicated cooking than they do, I'm kind of concerned about just what convenience-food culture has done.

They're really astonished when I make Spanish Chicken. I mean, it uses real vegetables and everything!

Perhaps it is Midwestern in a sense. I was raised in Michigan, as were my parents, and this sort of thing was the expected norm. My mother always disparaged her own cooking abilities, and said I was a better cook than she, but I just learned a lot from her own mother, my grandmother (who was of Pennsylvania German descent, interestingly enough.) I have found the same kind of hospitality in the South, though, and in New England.

Perhaps it is just the very youth-oriented culture of the West Coast that makes it seem so peculiar?

I enjoy cooking, in any case. Always have. And it's true, more and more people look at me as if I must be crazy when I say that.

I don't think there are expectations or standards. :(

I know EXACTLY what you mean... hee!

Appointment request coming up soon. It's on tomorrow's to-do list.

I know the feeling.
I'm horrible at engaging in trivial conversation with people.
It's just: welcome, make yourself at home, don't talk to me unless it's important.

I was born in Germany. Those standards closely resemble those I grew up with. Although the man who raised me was of a rather distant era (he was 90 when I was born), his standards were pretty much those of people around us.

I think much of Midwestern Culture is based on a fairly large number of German immigrants. As much as St. Louis likes to portray itself as "French" in origin, the culutre seems to me more German-based.

"Good Manners" are, according to my teachings, to follow the golden rule... treat a guest as you would be treated (and don't take no for an answer).

Not all of us can cook, though. When I have company over, I try to make up for that by providing some good munchies, or with a meal out at a nice place.

Where have ya been? I haven't seen you online in roughly forever.

Moving, then moving someone else into the third bedroom, while work exploded. And then hosting someone for the weekend. I've wanted to be online and have had exactly no time for it, especially since- with three residents here now, including myself- I've got to cook more!

*hug lots* All really good reasons for being offline. RL > Online any day.

If you get on some time, drop me a line so we can talk.

Having been your guest, now, twice, you're doing fine. Hosting is something that can be a passion or a science (or combination thereof). A year or two ago, it was completely different and I am amazed at the progression.

As for 'if someone needs a room', be wary of that desire. There are a lot of folks who will need the room; but sadly, some aren't in a position to leave it once they get there.

Something that possibly helps me, is that I check with my housemates about any potential guests, and if any of them are uncomfortable with someone staying, then the answer becomes 'no', and while I may be saddened to deliver the news, the decision is not in my hands.

A year or two ago, we had more stuff than we had apartment. :p

The time-limited nature of someone being a guest is sort of intrinsic to the culture, I guess. I can't really explain it well. You can't kick someone out unless they're flagrantly violating the rules of society (incivility to you or yours, violence), but after a few days you can ease back to your usual routines- routines that ignore your guest, and leave them to fend for themselves. If they've overstayed their welcome by a good 50% of the initial plan, they have to fend for themselves on meals, too, unless the time extension actually is welcome and pseudo-planned.

So I'm abbreviating a hell of a lot. I'm just sort of trying to articulate the culture I was raised in, and evidently follow.

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