We don’t use the front door ever under any circumstance
September 13, 2018 10:10 PM   Subscribe

 
This American Life did something similar a few years ago. One story was about a woman and her father. Every time her family received a new phone book, he would act out the scene from "The Jerk". When in her twenties she finally saw the movie and learned that her father had been acting out a scene from that movie, she felt betrayed.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:20 PM on September 13 [42 favorites]


All funerals eventually turned into polka parties. Apparently NOT the done thing?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:21 PM on September 13 [12 favorites]


But...but... pyjamas DO go under the pillow.

(...and what's wrong with old clothes for rags? That's where rags come from...)
posted by pompomtom at 10:26 PM on September 13 [57 favorites]


I'm only a few in, but this is my favorite gd post ever.
posted by greermahoney at 10:31 PM on September 13 [2 favorites]


Not about me, but my college dorm offered "sheet service"--once a week you could get a fresh set of bed linens. A friend of mine thought this was insane! But when she brought it up with people, it was like the Twilight Zone. No one understood why she was upset. In her family everyone slept on fresh sheets every night.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:41 PM on September 13 [63 favorites]


In her family everyone slept on fresh sheets every night.

Thought this anecdote was gonna go hard in the other direction.
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 10:43 PM on September 13 [160 favorites]


Oh my God. The water. The effort. Just no.
posted by greermahoney at 10:44 PM on September 13 [18 favorites]


Maybe they just moved to a new house every day.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:46 PM on September 13 [52 favorites]


In my house we did the single use towel thing. Wasn't until I stayed at a friend's house for several days that he asked WTF was up with wasting so many towels.
posted by benzenedream at 10:48 PM on September 13 [11 favorites]


My family ate rice with a spoon. I still have to face away from people eating their rice with a fork.
posted by ouke at 10:48 PM on September 13 [13 favorites]


Yeah, they had fresh towels and pajamas every day too.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:52 PM on September 13


I mean, my mom raised us not to reuse towels. She thought it was gross. I got out of that habit as an adult when I had to pay for my own laundry at the laundromat. I'm just boggling at THREE towels per shower.
posted by greermahoney at 10:58 PM on September 13 [11 favorites]


My dad was a self employed drywall hanger and would always knock off at 4:00 and come home so we could eat dinner at 4:30. When I got older, I stayed the night at someone's house and as 6:00 came and went with still no dinner, I remember thinking, "When the fuck are these morons going to eat?".
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 11:01 PM on September 13 [99 favorites]


We call it shaky cheese but I just thought that was my husband being a smartass.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:03 PM on September 13 [12 favorites]


Starting the day with a cup of tea discussing what your plans are sounds rather nice, actually.

The "puke bowl" in our house is more often a "puke bucket" by the bed. Since both my wife and me agreed that this is a thing I imagined that it widespread?

Tailgating at funerals seems like a good idea. If the funeral itself becomes too intense, you can distance yourself a bit until you are ready to re-engage.
posted by Harald74 at 11:12 PM on September 13 [15 favorites]


My first college roommate got the flu and I asked if she wanted a puke bowl Incase she couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time.

That is totally a thing in my house, growing up and now as an adult, and anyone who says it isn't has never had to clean up after a sleepy child who threw up all over their bed at 2am.

and on the walls oh god
posted by davejay at 11:18 PM on September 13 [78 favorites]


#31 my family always kept butter on the counter so it would be soft & spreadable for toast in the morning. when i lived with my ex, he threw away a brand new container of butter i had set out overnight because he was scared of food+germs.

Well OF COURSE you keep butter out on the counter. If you keep it in the fridge it'll be cold & hard when you try to spread it and it'll tear your bread.

#29 My first college roommate got the flu and I asked if she wanted a puke bowl Incase she couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time. Oh that’s not a thing? 😳

Again, this is just practical and considerate (to both the sick person and the people who share their living space). My family used a wash basin instead of a bowl though.

#22 Called the tv remote the channel changer

But... that's what it does? It changes channels.

#19 We kept our pajamas under our pillows. I thought everyone did that. ... In college my roommate told me they go in a drawer.

PJs you're going to wear again go under your pillow. Spare PJs are stored in a drawer. (Now someone is probably going to tell me it's weird that I wear my PJs for more than one night)

#3Peanut butter and honey sandwiches are apparently wayyy less popular than PB&J

Eh? This must be regional. Also, peanut butter, honey & banana sandwiches are the superior peanut butter sandwich.

Things that got me odd looks when I moved away from home:
  • white rice topped with butter & freshly ground black pepper
  • keeping a pepper grinder on the kitchen table (my family likes pepper, okay?)
  • eating things welllllll past their best before date & being comfortable cutting off moldy or squishy bits & eating the rest (my parents grew up with WW2 rationing, my mother actually retains a preference for stale bread)
  • washing & reusing ziplock bags. My mother goes a step further in terms of conservation - she cuts the top off empty 1L milk bags, washes them & reuses them as freezer bags
  • peeing with the bathroom door open when there are other people in the house (family, close friends & significant others only)
  • picnicking in cemeteries
posted by Secret Sparrow at 11:18 PM on September 13 [32 favorites]


The front door is a country/city thing I think? My partner's from the country and we never used the front door when we visited her parents. Now we've moved out to the country too and it's just the done thing that everyone comes to the back door. Front door's strictly for decor and package delivery.
posted by Silentgoldfish at 11:19 PM on September 13 [15 favorites]


Yes, we had a plastic yellow bowl for getting sick. Or the closest waste basket.

The morning tea sounds lovely. Like a family scrum. Only not awful like I just made it sound.
posted by greermahoney at 11:19 PM on September 13 [72 favorites]


As a kid it didn’t feel like I was living in a particularly religious household, but I was always made to understand that my friends from non-Christian families were lesser, that parents who let their teens see any kind of R-rated material were immoral, that I should feel very sorry for children of divorced or single parents, etc. We even looked down on other religious people, if their beliefs differed at all from ours. My parents barely kissed in front of us, and they didn’t really raise the level of discourse as we got older.

I basically had 0 clue what being an adult was all about until I was abruptly living on my own, with no preparation from them. Religion stopped making any sense to me once they stopped enforcing it. And all those people I was raised to see as immoral, I suddenly stopped seeing that way. Immorality has taken on a whole new meaning to me now, one that I hope is closer to a universal definition. It’s so weird to think back now on that extremely sheltered bubble I grew up in. Seems like a completely different life.
posted by mantecol at 11:19 PM on September 13 [39 favorites]


My dad was a self employed drywall hanger and would always knock off at 4:00 and come home so we could eat dinner at 4:30.

I eat lunch at 4:30...
posted by Quackles at 11:21 PM on September 13 [14 favorites]


Eating dinner early is one of the most noticeable. When you get home for the day, start making dinner. 5 or 5.30 is a good time, 6.30 is getting late. Then I started going places where people don't even think about dinner till 8. Wild.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 11:29 PM on September 13 [20 favorites]


As a kid, I was pretty embarrassed when I learned "big business" is not a common euphemism for poop. I also had a few country friends whose families referred to the noon meal as "dinner", which always confused me when their moms would ask me if I was staying for dinner at 11am or so.

Don't can't really think of any from college or beyond that happened to me in person, but of course there's the occasional AskMe thread that blows up, the one that comes most easily to mind being afterpants.
posted by ckape at 11:31 PM on September 13 [10 favorites]


My family had a number of, I gather, odd food habits. Fondue, for example, was our Christmas Eve tradition, oil not cheese, and then the pot would be stored away until next year. When we bothered my mom for something to snack on before dinner, she'd often give us frozen hot dogs which we'd eat like popsicles. As I later found out, that isn't quite the norm.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:32 PM on September 13 [16 favorites]


Grew up in suburbia. No one used front doors. In fact, we had an old Victorian, and the front door led to the parlor, which was divided from the rest of the house by pocket doors. In old days, your guests, who were the only ones to use said front door, then didn't see your filthy rest of the house. We, uhhh, didn't make our guests go around to the front, though. We just laughed about it.

Don't be jealous of our old Victorian, though. Everything was broken, always, and the upstairs plumbing rained down on us below. In fact... Here's my contribution to this thread! Our oven door would fall off in your hand if you opened it more than 2/3rds. Yeah, the whole door. Which was challenging when it was like 400°. To this day, I still have issues opening any oven door. My ex would laugh at me. He'd be like, "Ovens can open all the way!! Yours was just broken!!" as he saw me trying to pull a cookie sheet out of a 4-inch gap, and burning my arm while doing it. (Also, the dishwasher wasn't screwed in to the counter and if you weren't careful when loading or unloading, it would tip over on to you. I've never had a dishwasher since then, though, so no one has known to make fun of me for using them incorrectly.)
posted by greermahoney at 11:39 PM on September 13 [15 favorites]


Oh man, my dad introduced me to the saltines and ice cream thing when I was a kid, and I've been in love ever since. When I tried to share this with my wife, she thought I was totally bonkers. I can't say I blame her, it sounds weird. I also love fast food french fries dipped in a milk shake, similar sort of thing.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:56 PM on September 13 [5 favorites]


Then I started going places where people don't even think about dinner till 8. Wild.

When I was a kid, we would have been sleeping for an hour by that time.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:57 PM on September 13 [7 favorites]


I don't know if it's *weird*, but I had no idea how fast everyone in my family ate (and still eats) until I went away to university and ate with people in the residence cafeteria. Other people would still be working on their pre-main course salads or whatever and my meal would already be a distant memory, so I'd go back and get more food so I didn't feel self-conscious. That's how I packed on my freshman 15. I had a friend who ate unusually slowly, even by other peoples' standards, and once she visited us and we went out for a restaurant meal. She actually managed to not lag too far behind us and when I commented on that afterward she told me in an anguished voice "I ate *SO FAST*."

We also basically never ate any fresh vegetables other than potatoes, corn, carrot and celery sticks, radishes and iceberg lettuce (the last four of which comprised our "salads"). When I met my wife at the age of 27 she was amazed by the number of vegetables I'd never eaten, including but not limited to broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, cucumber, zucchini, yams/sweet potatoes, leeks, green onions, etc., etc., etc..

My grandmother only liked to eat rice in pudding form and to her dying day considered it a dessert food.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:44 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


powdered instant skim milk.

until I was like, sixteen, I thought milk was a horrible and disgusting substance that could have concentrated essence of horribleness as sludge at the bottom of the glass. I don't know how I eventually realized that the terrible white gunk my mom was giving us and the delicious creamy stuff in cartons at the lunchroom were supposedly the same thing but when I let her know I had figured it out and how I felt, she cried for two days.
posted by mwhybark at 12:50 AM on September 14 [29 favorites]


> We left bourbon for Santa instead of milk. Didn’t realize that wasn’t normal until I was a teenager.

That's hilarious, but hopefully not a story someone in her family tells at AA meetings.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:53 AM on September 14 [12 favorites]


We call it shaky cheese but I just thought that was my husband being a smartass.

Mrs Biscuit and her family call it shaker cheese. At least, I assume there is no capital S — perhaps it refers in some roundabout way to the nearly extinct religious sect. Little surprises like that are part of the charm of my in-laws.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:57 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


She actually managed to not lag too far behind us and when I commented on that afterward she told me in an anguished voice "I ate *SO FAST*."

My life in a nutshell right there. You sit there wolfing down food (which for me, amounts to not chewing things enough and causing later discomfort), don’t engage in conversation, don’t really enjoy the food because you’re focusing so hard on not falling behind, and you still finish last and therefore spend the last part of the meal with everyone’s eyes on you, waiting for you to finish. Or if you can’t take the staring, you drop your fork in the finishing position and throw in the napkin before you’re done, pretending you’re full, when really it means you’ll go hungry the rest of the day.

I was (made) aware of my slowness even as a kid, but nowadays when eating out, I mostly just eat at a comfortable pace, and tell people they can leave before me if they want. Life is too short to not eat food in a way that’s comfortable for you.
posted by mantecol at 1:00 AM on September 14 [23 favorites]


* Puke bowls. Check.
* Weird kitchen storage. Check. We never, ever used the dishwasher. We never had one until we moved when I was high school. Dishwashers are for storing snacks like cookies.
* Abomination that we cannot stop my Mom from doing. Being obsessed about food safety, she washes fish. Yes. Buys a beautiful filet of fresh fish and then washes it with dish washing soap (and rinses) before cooking. Thank god this was not something I grew up doing and had to unlearn the hard way because we just never had fresh fish growing up. I learned to enjoy and cook fish by working in a restaurant. This aberrant behavior started later after I had moved out. I came home one holiday to see her applying Joy to the salmon. We cannot stop her. Nobody can prevent it. It's truly horrifying. I thought about telling the lovely fishmonger, Colette, what Mom does with the fish so she could get her to stop, but I couldn't break her mind or heart with the knowledge that she had been providing fine fish to a cook who abused it so. Mom really thinks everyone should do this.
posted by Gotanda at 1:05 AM on September 14 [65 favorites]


In my family, we puked in a huge old stockpot. It was not until I was in my late thirties that my mom explained that it was not, in fact, the same pot we made soup in.

The front door thing is a car culture thing. If you drive everywhere, you're always using the garage door anyway.
posted by phooky at 1:28 AM on September 14 [10 favorites]


Glass of whiskey for Santa is fairly normal here (UK), plus artfully eaten Mince Pie.

I like hearing all the different times people eat their tea. My SIL eats her tea at 5pm and hates it at PILs when it's at 7ish. She'd despise it here, where we generally eat at around 8.
posted by threetwentytwo at 1:30 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


We would have arguments in the form of long, formal letters that we would then hand to each other stone-faced. Turns out that's not a casual thing in the rest of society.

I’m totally undecided on whether this is fucked up or awesome.

Bourbon for Santa is totally normal though. Goes with the carrot sticks for the reindeer.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:31 AM on September 14 [18 favorites]


The genius thing about this article is that it has a few things that are truly weird, and a few that are perfectly normal, so everyone gets worked up about the ones that are normal (puke bowls, pyjamas under the pillow).
posted by Stark at 1:48 AM on September 14 [15 favorites]


We didn't do Santa Claus. I was an adult before I realized that most kids at some point believe that Santa is real and that their parents seriously put on the charade. I mean, we saw Santa in movies and on TV and stuff, but I assumed he was just a character like Mr. Peanut or Goldilocks. We had Christmas stockings, but we knew that Mom and Dad filled them. As soon as we kids were old enough to buy presents, we all filled each other's stockings.

Whenever passing bread or pancakes at the table, we always slapped each other in the face with a slice or cake.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:21 AM on September 14 [19 favorites]


Oh, and we sang and danced around the house a lot, as if we were in a musical.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:26 AM on September 14 [19 favorites]


I have developed some Issues in re making false statements to my child, particularly about articles of faith. He loves pretend and is clear that Santa, Tooth Fairy et al are a fun story like Teen Titans but that it's okay to act out your pretend stuff if you want to. Everyone reacts to this as though I have announced my intention to dunk my child in a vat of acid. I guess most people don't have memories of feeling betrayed or confused when the truth was revealed?
posted by Scattercat at 2:46 AM on September 14 [29 favorites]


I thought my boyfriend made up the term shaky cheese
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:47 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


everyone gets worked up about the ones that are normal (puke bowls, pyjamas under the pillow).

I'll take your word for it being normal, though it's new to me, but were the pyjamas under the pillow thing tied to bed making somehow? Or was it a cleanliness/washing thing, where no previously worn clothes should be seen during waking hours?
posted by gusottertrout at 2:52 AM on September 14


The dinner/tea time thing, at least in the UK, has traditionally been a class thing. Working-class people tended to start work early (6 or 7 am), call the evening meal 'tea', and eat it at or before 5pm. I was surprised when I found out that some of my peers from wealthier families would have their evening meal after 7pm, because it seemed like it was really late at night. It does work much better for small kids, though, as you can all eat together.

Also, calling the evening mean 'tea' is something I forgot about when I left home and starting mixing with more middle-class people, only to find out that my wife's family had been another breakfast/dinner/tea family. My MIL still insists on having dinner at midday.

As a kid I had a friend whose mother insisted on keeping all of the living room furniture under polythene covers, just as it had been delivered 10 years earlier, 'to keep it nice'. The whole lot was uncovered only for Christmas day and christenings, when family members were permitted to sit awkwardly on the sofa and chairs for an hour or so. The family lived all year round in the kitchen/dining room. To them, that was normal.
posted by pipeski at 3:09 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


Being obsessed about food safety, she washes fish. Yes. Buys a beautiful filet of fresh fish and then washes it with dish washing soap (and rinses) before cooking.

*needle scratch*

Okay, this is SERIOUSLY UNSAFE, isn't it? How has she not realized she is CONTAMINATING the fish instead of cleaning it?

I mean, I can see washing it with a rinse under water, but DISHWASHING SOAP?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:13 AM on September 14 [25 favorites]


I don't even have a front door. I have 2 back doors.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 3:13 AM on September 14


my family always kept butter on the counter so it would be soft & spreadable for toast in the morning.

Um...Isn't one of the points of salted butter that it can be left out for use?

............
My first college roommate got the flu and I asked if she wanted a puke bowl Incase she couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time. Oh that’s not a thing?

Puke bucket. We always used a bucket. Easier to hit, especially if you can't get out of bed in time.

............
My family brings a cooler of beer to wakes and when things get too emotional we go outside and have a little tailgate. Thought all Irish American families did that until I went away to college.

Of course it's weird. Any proper wake has a keg in the kitchen.

............
Peanut butter and honey sandwiches are apparently wayyy less popular than PB&J

Maybe less popular, but by no means weird. My grade school served PB&H sandwiches with every lunch.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:14 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


Scrubbing the bathtub every day before your bath (and with multiple people, before each person's bath). When I mentioned it in outside company, everyone was shocked. Apparently you're only supposed to wash the bathtub once a week?
posted by I claim sanctuary at 3:32 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


In my family, Santa Claus was a fun pretend game that we all played -- we all gave each other presents, and pretended they were from Santa, because it was polite not to take credit for them, obviously.

I think I traumatised several childhood friends before my parents warned me that other little kids believed in Santa for realsies.

Regarding butter: I live in a southern hemisphere country which reaches high temperatures in summer. Some people leave butter out of the fridge here, as far as I can tell because they know that people in completely different climates leave butter out and it's OK. Reader, their butter is always rancid and repulsive. This is why we have spreadable butter/margarine blends. I will die on this hill.
posted by confluency at 3:38 AM on September 14 [15 favorites]


My wife and her family eat their slices of cold watermelon with white bread for some reason. Never stops to amaze me.
posted by kmt at 3:43 AM on September 14 [8 favorites]


We used our dishwasher for storage too. My dad... really likes washing dishes by hand. A dishwasher came with the house and he thought it did a bad job and was more trouble than it was worth. It stored plastic and paper bags, like grocery store bags for reuse.

My parents have a new dishwasher now and it's impossible to convince my dad that dishwasher technology has advanced in the past 30 years. It gets used about once a month and he still basically pre-washes all the dishes first.
posted by cpatterson at 3:51 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


Secret Sparrow: "keeping a pepper grinder on the kitchen table (my family likes pepper, okay?)"

I love pepper. At college I carried around a portable pepper shaker just in case. Pizza's much better with freshly ground pepper on it.
posted by chavenet at 3:53 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


"white rice topped with butter & freshly ground black pepper"

Yes!
posted by parki at 3:56 AM on September 14 [15 favorites]


I still have to face away from people eating their rice with a fork.

How about chopsticks?


Shaky cheese sounds like something baseball commentator Dennis Eckersly would say. I know I heard him describe a pitcher's offering as sneaky cheese.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:57 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


What's wrong with keeping a pepper grinder at the kitchen table? I have one myself. Who in their right mind would top their meals using stale pepper?
posted by I-Write-Essays at 3:57 AM on September 14 [37 favorites]


One of my good friends in college came from a family whose tradition was to shake hands with everyone in the car when crossing state lines. Imagine her surprise and everyone else's confusion the first time she tried this with a group of us our sophomore year.

In my house growing up, we slept with the bedroom windows open year round, even when the temperatures were well below zero. Enough warm blankets make even the coldest room great for sleeping. This has caused a lot of consternation among friends and lovers since I moved away from home (and I've backed off it now that I live in houses with real heating systems.)
posted by spindrifter at 4:09 AM on September 14 [14 favorites]


I think that's about the only time I've read an article where the comments all seem very sensible.

Wtf wouldn't you take a bucket/bowl to bed if you think you might be sick. It's just common sense. Even really really drunk me would carefully set up my bucket and towel (goes under the bucket, for extra safety on carpeted floors) before passing out.

Peanut butter and honey is totally a thing in Australia where jelly is not a sandwich spread and jam and peanut butter sounds weird.

I grew up with butter in covered dishes on the counter (English mother, wouldn't quite accept the climate here) but someone would always leave it uncovered and the cat would lick it suspiciously smooth. We agreed bread damage was easier to stomach than cat licked butter. Especially when we couldn't be sure which cat.

I'd totally forgotten we called it the channel changer, that's a nice memory.
posted by kitten magic at 4:20 AM on September 14 [11 favorites]


The cats use the front door more often than we do. I think it's a rural thing. Also our puke bowl growing up was a massive Tupperware salad bowl. You couldn't miss it.

I really don't understand the dishwasher as storage thing, though. Why not just get more cupboards?
posted by jscalzi at 4:20 AM on September 14 [8 favorites]


The ancient farmhouses i knew as a kid, you definitely didn't use the front door. Pretty much everyone (bar the vicar) used the door straight into the kitchen, which was also the room where people spent 90% of the time and it was always warm.

That might be my kid's thing in future years, we're nearly always in the kitchen in our house. We only use the front room for films and reading books. Lots of people I know don't have kitchens with tables because they are quite small.
posted by threetwentytwo at 4:24 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


There were plenty of things weird about my house, but one of the things that got me into akward situations is that my family didn't restrict my media consumption and I watched rated R movies my whole life . It was really confusing for me when kids had rules about that sort of thing.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:26 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


A colleague of mine would stock up on the cheap McDonald's hamburgers when they were available and keep them in the freezer until she had a hangover. I was so grateful the morning I woke up at her house after a work celebration.

I would totally start that cheese block snacking thing now, except my health couldn't handle the quantity of cheese I'd end up eating. Probably better to do that in a family group, I guess.
posted by harriet vane at 4:27 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


Bourbon for Santa is totally normal though. Goes with the carrot sticks for the reindeer.

In Britain (and elsewhere), Santa gets a glass of sherry and a mince pie. Possibly with a carrot for the reindeer, but that may just have been my family.

I assume most of these are culturally bound. Americans often get incensed that my default notion of pancake looks like this. My small child brain could understand that there were two different styles of pancakes and they were both acceptable. But apparently the average person cannot because I can't count the number of times I've been told my pancakes are "NOT pancakes".
posted by hoyland at 4:27 AM on September 14 [10 favorites]


I'd totally forgotten we called it the channel changer, that's a nice memory.

In the early 80’s we called it the clicker.
posted by schoolgirl report at 4:32 AM on September 14 [52 favorites]


I assume most of these are culturally bound. Americans often get incensed that my default notion of pancake looks like this.

As an American allow me to offer my appreciation of your superior pancake preference. That's, roughly, how I grew up expecting them to be as well until I encountered those monstrosities other people called pancakes, but which seemed to only need candles and frosting to be called birthday cakes instead.
posted by gusottertrout at 4:37 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


A colleague of mine would stock up on the cheap McDonald's hamburgers when they were available and keep them in the freezer until she had a hangover. I was so grateful the morning I woke up at her house after a work celebration.

In the eighties McDonalds had some sort of anniversary celebration where they were offering hamburgers for the original price, maybe 20 cents, and my roommate filled the entire freezer with them.
posted by octothorpe at 4:43 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


And yeah, the back door thing is close to universal in American suburbia as far as I know.
posted by octothorpe at 4:54 AM on September 14


Parents were pioneering foodies in the seventies. They'd serve us kids and my grandmother at 5PM, and have their own meal 7:30 or 8, after my dad was back from his commute and they could cook. But there was crossover: famous is my complaint at about age six, when my mom put something alien on the table for our early dinner, and I whined "WHY CAN'T I EAT what normal NORMAL KIDS eat?! Hamburgers! Hot dogs! And QUICHE LORRAINE!"
posted by bendybendy at 4:55 AM on September 14 [53 favorites]


As a kid I had a friend whose mother insisted on keeping all of the living room furniture under polythene covers, just as it had been delivered 10 years earlier, 'to keep it nice'.

This was the case in every old Italian-American lady's living room around here. It was something to sort of snicker at, maybe, but it wasn't at all unusual.
posted by uncleozzy at 4:57 AM on September 14 [10 favorites]


Also, calling the evening mean 'tea' is something I forgot about when I left home and starting mixing with more middle-class people, only to find out that my wife's family had been another breakfast/dinner/tea family. My MIL still insists on having dinner at midday.

Here in Pennsylvania I've heard the midday meal called dinner, mostly from rural working class folks. When I worked in home construction, some of the guys still called their playmate cooler a "dinner bucket". Evening meal is supper though, not tea.
posted by octothorpe at 5:00 AM on September 14 [7 favorites]


And yeah, the back door thing is close to universal in American suburbia as far as I know.

Definitely architecture-dependent. The house I grew up in had a very detached garage, and the front door was way more convenient to use than any of the others. Now, I'm in a split-level, and we enter through the garage.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:01 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


There is only one time that a front door should be used, and that is by the pallbearers and the deceased leaving the house after the wake. Just sayin.'

As for the suspiciously smooth butter that you suspect has been licked by that cat, relax. Smooth butter is caused by melting. Cats have very rough surfaced tongues and you can easily spot the rough pattern they leave when they lick the butter. Of course it has frequently melted a bit after the cat licked it and the pattern is no longer visible, but plausible deniability and all that...

One year my grandmother looked after us when my parents were away and I was sent to school every day with a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Unfortunately my grandmother bought the bananas after they were over ripe (cheaper!), so the bananas sort of retained their slice of banana shape the first day they were in the sandwich but every day after that they were well on the way to brown slime. To this day I will only eat bananas when they are green and hard.

The sick-up basin was a yellow wash basin that was used solely for the purpose and as a migraineuse was my constant and comforting companion in childhood. I did not consider my dollhouse furnishings collection complete until I finally got a tiny round yellow plastic basin.

I'm not even going to start on what my family did that I later discovered was weird. Let's just say that every month I had to wait until my older sisters had finished looking at my dad's Playboy magazine before I was allowed to look at it, by long standing tradition concerning any books or magazines brought into the house.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:04 AM on September 14 [27 favorites]


As soon as my dad came home from work he would take a bath, never a shower, and walk around in his underwear for the rest of the night. I didn't learn that wasn't normal for a dad until one of my friends told me.
posted by waving at 5:08 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


The front door is for company. We almost always enter/leave our house through the garage, because we are either coming/going via car, or doing lawn work and the garage is where the mower et.al. is located. About the only time we use the front door is to go out to the mailbox.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:17 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


My parents would play pinochle whenever my grandparents or aunt came to visit. But they pronounced it "pin-OCK-illee." Not as a joke, either. Also with thick Chicago accents. When I first met my soon to be in-laws and they asked if I knew any card games, my response was met with confused silence.
posted by biddeford at 5:30 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


I am from the South and my grandma who grew up on a farm in Alabama always called the midday meal “dinner”.

Also she taught me to put salt on watermelon. My northern wife was horrified the first time she saw me do this.

When I was sick growing up, my mom would leave the largest stainless steel mixing bowl nearby. Bigger target than a bucket.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:32 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


We mostly leave the butter out, except this very hot summer on the worst days. Almost never use the front door, nor did my parents. Old clothes and towels become rags. Where I grew up, it was rare to have a grandma who spoke English without a thick accent, and many of us had grandparents who lived with us. We still call the remote the channel changer.

As to the keg at the wake, I remember some uncle having a flask at a wake that others snuck out to have a wee drop. In Ireland, we came across a combination Bar and Undertaker, for real, not a joke.The funeral parlor was adjacent to the pub! Sadly we got there when it was closed, but it was owned by someone with my Irish grandfather's family name. Seems it would be quite convenient for an Irish wake, although many are still laid out at home in the country. The local radio station announces in the morning where the wakes will be held. My Polish grandparents who had a small farm had the big meal at noon and a smaller meal at 5. Irish farmer relatives still do this, but the smaller meal is called tea. We enjoyed this when we visited.
posted by mermayd at 5:34 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


We also didn't generally use the front door, but my parents went one step farther. We had a storm door, so as long we were in the house the main door was left wide open with the storm door shut. All year long. First thing that happened when we got home (walking in through the garage, of course) was the opening of the front door.

My mother had some deeply obsessive compulsive tendencies, so there were a lot of things about my childhood that, in hindsight, seem very weird. Our socks, underwear, and even towels were replaced at a shocking frequency - at one point we were getting new socks every two or three weeks. Everything was impeccably clean to the point where friends I brought home would comment on it. My mother had hired a cleaning service for a while, and not only did she clean before they showed up (that seems to be A Thing, at least), she would clean after they left, finding every streak and missed corner and redoing all of it. Why she even bothered hiring them was beyond me.

We had hardwood floors in one house, and my parents had them sanded and refinished at least once a year. I have never seen anyone else do that.

Thinking about it this morning, I realized one of the weirdest things from my childhood that seemed totally normal was some of the gifting habits my mother had towards my brother and me. We would get toys and things that small children would appreciate, sure, but then there were also... the tchochkes. Like, stuff that might be found in a curio cabinet in a middle class home in the '80s. At one point, my mother was buying small crystal animals for us for Christmas and birthdays. As far as I know, I never expressed any interest in these things that would have caused this line of gifting, but it ended up as something of a small tradition. I ended up with a modest collection of these things that were really only good for cleaning (and due to the other parts of our family dynamic, I ended up cleaning them a lot).

So, as a 12 year old boy, I had a glass menagerie. Totally normal.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:35 AM on September 14 [40 favorites]


I want to point out something that occurred to me a few years ago and that threads like this remind me of:

Everyone grows up in a house with small children in it. By definition. A lot of the way things were in your childhood can be explained by the fact that you were living in a household with small children. You get to know your parents while they are doing one of the most stressful things many people ever do, which is raise children.

Early mealtimes? Casualness (or paranoia) about food/puke/germs that would seem inappropriate for an adult living alone or in a childless shared household? Rituals and routines designed to make chaos into order? Your parents seeming to be homebodies with few friends or normal social life? That's what it's like (a lot of the time) when you've got small children!
posted by sy at 5:36 AM on September 14 [122 favorites]


As a non-American, the front door thing is fascinating!
posted by Harald74 at 5:37 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately it would be smooth as in the knife marks from us kids carving out chunks were gone rather than a shiny glazed smooth plus we busted the cat near it a few times but you are absolutely right, that's more than enough for plausible deniability. Thank you!
posted by kitten magic at 5:38 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Our house was clearly designed to be entered through the back door (the driveway goes all the way to the back yard, where there is a detached garage; there is a coat closet by the back door), but at some point somebody turned half of the front porch into a legit mudroom (in this tiny old house), so we use the front door. But most of our neighbors (just about every house on my block is different, but they share similar orientations) use the side / back doors exclusively.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:42 AM on September 14


My weird family thing, that I have yet to meet another person whose family did this, is that the dogs that my Grandmother and her sister owned, all had the same name. For my Grandmother, it was Smokey, and for my Great Aunt, it was Duke. Both had dozens of dogs throughout their lives, and they all had the same name. I don't understand this at all.
posted by momochan at 5:42 AM on September 14 [15 favorites]


There was always rice in our salt shaker. We ate canned fruit for dessert. We never really traveled so I was clueless about a lot of things that went with that--I didn't realize you could actually use the dresser drawers in hotels until I was in my 30s.

My husband has some, too. They use old beach towels as bath towels and comforters as blankets, which they refer to as "winter blankets." Also there was never really food in his house (not due to poverty but neglect, really), and so he often has cans of beans or blocks of feta cheese for lunch because that was all he could prepare for himself as a child.

Wonder what will be true for my kid. She already takes off her shoes every time she enters a house.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 5:56 AM on September 14 [10 favorites]


Also she taught me to put salt on watermelon. My northern wife was horrified the first time she saw me do this.

As a northern husband to a southern wife, that was my initial reaction, but she's converted me.
posted by madcaptenor at 5:58 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


...my grandma who grew up on a farm in Alabama always called the midday meal “dinner”.

So instead of brunch, you'd have brinner. (1)

Our weird thing was having a huge "chest" freezer in the living room. Right next to the TV. I suspect it was the only room big enough. My mother always bought everything in bulk and it all went in the freezer.




(1) At Christmas, would it be a Yule brinner? ThankyouIllseemyselfout.
posted by Mogur at 5:58 AM on September 14 [44 favorites]


she taught me to put salt on watermelon.

This is very good to hear for me.
A few years ago, I was playing ball games with some friends on the beach, but we were using a watermelon we'd decided was our mascot thingy for the trip after I insisted it was dirt cheap (80c/kilo) and we'd be foolish not to get one.

A friend decided to kick it like he was going for a footy conversion and it cracked in the lapping surf.
I wasn't going to let it go to waste, so I decided to eat the non-directly exposed parts. They were nonetheless salty and I found it to be some of the best watermelon eating I'd ever done.

Cue friendly ridicule and jokes for the rest of the trip. But it's a thing! A good thing!
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:01 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


"Shaky cheese?" Sprinkle cheese!
posted by Foosnark at 6:01 AM on September 14 [10 favorites]


comforters as blankets, which they refer to as "winter blankets."

I think I use those words interchangeably, so I will confess that I can't even guess what this could mean.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:04 AM on September 14 [26 favorites]


The first time I watched my husband wash dishes by hand I was horrified to see he didn't rinse the soap off. He would fill a basin in the sink (which is also weird to me, effectively putting a sink in a sink) with hot soapy water . Then rub a sponge on each dish, plunge it in the hot soapy water and then just stack it on the counter. He insisted (still insists?) that the soap slides off with the water.

When my mom saw this, she was equally horrified and convinced he was poisoning us all with soap. We always had a two sink system and washed dishes by soaping everything in one sink and transferring it to the second sink. Rinse everything in the second sink in hot water and then stack.

We have a dishwasher now.
posted by like_neon at 6:05 AM on September 14 [17 favorites]


"Shaky cheese?" Sprinkle cheese!

In my house it's sawdust cheese.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:06 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Oh something we did in my house growing up that I didn't realise was weird was my parents would buy Neopolitan ice cream so that I could have chocolate and strawberry and they could have vanilla. We wouldn't really mix them.

And we always poured milk over the ice cream before eating it. Not blended like a milkshake, but like ice cream soup.
posted by like_neon at 6:08 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


For years when I was a kid we had family meetings every Sunday. We would go over the minutes from the previous week’s meeting, update on old and new business, then everyone had to take a turn saying one thing they were proud of for the week and one compliment for everyone else. Then we would wrap it up with a family song.
posted by ghharr at 6:27 AM on September 14 [152 favorites]


Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner are meals served no later than 3:00 on their respective days, preferably at 2:00. You must not refer to this meal as lunch under any circumstances or I will have to spend the next six months hearing my mother complain about The Time That Person Referred to this Nice Dinner as Lunch, What is Wrong With Them. It was a tough thing to explain to my high school boyfriend that my people are the descendants of people from countries where they ate their main meal at noon. His family ate Thanksgiving dinner after dark, like a tribe of vampires.

My parents also insisted on pouring milk over certain desserts like pudding or cobbler or jello. Not on holidays, though.
posted by corey flood at 6:28 AM on September 14 [32 favorites]


So many things in my house were weird, I barely know where to start.

I had no idea that other people closed their bedroom doors at night. That was a shocker my first year with a room mate. My parents had no boundaries, so they would never let us close our doors. Food was weighed and measured. 3 ounces of orange juice. No more, no less. 6 ounces of cereal. 4 ounces of chicken. One cup of peas and carrots. 30 years later, it seems freaky, but I had no idea that other families didn't starve their children.
posted by Sophie1 at 6:28 AM on September 14 [15 favorites]


I don't understand a lot of these things being seen as weird - salt on watermelon? Peanut butter and banana sandwiches? Butter on the counter? Pajamas under the pillow?

These are all normal things. Right?
posted by bradth27 at 6:31 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


This is the best list of life hacks I’ve ever seen
posted by q*ben at 6:32 AM on September 14 [23 favorites]


Glad to know the puke receptacle is a normal thing.

I still call hair conditioner cream rinse from time to time, but I think that's just a very old word for hair conditioner.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:36 AM on September 14 [10 favorites]


I guess standards of cleanliness and wearing/not wearing shoes inside are typical differences. And food. (Though not wearing shoes in the house -- I'm in the US -- is more common than I expected, such that I'm surprised the practice is not yet integrated into house entry architecture/furniture/etc. the way it could be in e.g. Japan)
posted by thefool at 6:41 AM on September 14


Oh man. So many things.

There were five of us and one bathroom so we had no concept of bathroom privacy. You'd be pooping while someone else would be brushing their teeth or taking a bath. I think I was 12 before I learned that people normally close the door when they use the bathroom.

We had plastic on the living room furniture and plastic runners on the rugs. I'd be playing Atari with my friends, all of us sitting on plastic. My mom was a housekeeper for some rich folks and they had a formal living room that nobody used and that always looked nice so my mom decided we should have one too, even though the living room was the only non-bedroom room in the house.

Crazy religious stuff. I grew up thinking everyone's mom rubbed holy water on their heads every night before bed. Everyone held hands with their brothers and prayed around a Jesus candle every night before bed, didn't they?

We all used the same washcloth in the shower. I think this is the thing that seems the most fucked up to me now.

My mom spent an hour every night saying her prayers and you knew not to bother her during that time.

My mom had a drink before dinner every night. I was like seven years old and I could make a screwdriver or a gin and tonic.

We never used our front door and in fact eventually my mom put duct tape and plastic over it to "keep out the drafts."

We totally did the puke bucket thing. I still do it. Why would you not do that? Have you never had to clean puke off a floor? It's not pleasant.

We called the remote "the clicker" and would always fight over whose turn it was to "have the clicker."

We would make "pizza" in the toaster oven using an english muffin, a spoonful of Ragu or whatever leftover sauce we had in the fridge, and a slice of Kraft American Processed Cheese Food. If we were feeling ambitious we'd slice up a hot dog to put on it.

Every Sunday night was "casserole" night, where my mom would make something using all the leftovers in the fridge. It would usually be a base of egg noodles with slices of meatball, leftover steak, chicken, frozen peas, and whatever else there was.

Every now and then a gas station or lawnmower sales place would have some "$.25 hot dog special" promotion so she'd throw us all in the car and we'd eat dinner in the parking lot of a gas station and it would cost her like $3.00. I know now this was just her being frugal and feeding us cheaply and easily but at the time it seemed kind of messed up.

If I ran out of clean underwear I would just use my brothers underwear.

For a period of several years we ate dinner at McDonalds at least once a week. I guess this isn't too strange but it seems weird to me now.

I still do the "no elbows on the table, ask to be excused" dinner thing with my son. I think he thinks it's weird but I'm pretty big on manners, even ones that are obsolete or pointless. Put your hood down, don't wear your white undershirt to dinner, etc.
posted by bondcliff at 6:43 AM on September 14 [10 favorites]


We stick our heads under the faucet when we want a quick drink of water. The HORROR on my new college friend’s face when she took me home and I did it in front of her parents.

1. This was totally normal in our house. I did it once while staying with relatives overseas, and by my aunt's reaction, you'd have thought I was chugging Drano; but,
2. I did it recently at my Mom's house, and she was also now horrified, and denies that this was ever a thing in our house -- she is wrong; and,
3. Wait until she discovers I still drink from the garden hose.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:43 AM on September 14 [34 favorites]


My family never had puke buckets, but it is a think in my wife's family, so now it is a thing at our house. I figure it is because her family (and now my kids) are bigger? easier? pukers. Chances are they are not going to make it to the toilet in time, so they need a bucket or puke is going to have to be cleaned up. I come from Iron Stomach Stock. I don't remember anyone ever not making it to the bathroom, and my parents have wall-to-wall carpeting.

A lot of that stuff is not weird to me. Butter lives on the counter. PJs under the pillow. Remotes are clickers or channel changers. The front door was never used at my parent's house, but that was due to architecture, just as we pretty well only use the front door at my house due to architecture. Drinking from the tap is normal. My mom uses the microwave as a bread box and the oven as pot and pan storage, as did my grandmother before her. Assigned seats at the dinner table, which is mostly a way to keep the kids from arguing. Old clothes are put in the rag bag.

I'm sure my family did lots of weird stuff no one else does, but I also know we are complete weirdos.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:48 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


We lived in a flight path, so conversations would often be interrupted for five to ten seconds. It's less obvious that the plane is coming when you're on the phone, so we trained our friends that when we said "Plane", they might as well stop talking. That percolated out into live conversations -- see something distracting? Say "Plane" and everyone pauses and looks where you're looking. It's very useful when you don't want to make it obvious that you're staring at something.

I moved away to college and got new friends, and one day we're walking down the street having several conversations, and I see a couple of people having a fistfight in a strip mall parking lot, so naturally I say "Plane". Nothing much happens, so I say "Plane!" a little more urgently. A couple of people look skyward. "PLANE!" I say again, jerking my head toward the fight.

By the time I realized that I was the one who was being dumb, the fight was over.
posted by Etrigan at 6:50 AM on September 14 [82 favorites]


Oh, also, all our bread products were kept in the freezer. If you needed a slice of bread (almost always store brand white bread) you'd take a slice out of the freezer and microwave it for 20 seconds. Then it would be hard on the crusts and moist in the middle. We also never had hot dog or hamburger rolls so every hot dog or burger I had as a kid used white bread for the "roll."

Now, as an adult, I refuse to freeze my bread, and I will not microwave a slice of bread. Hot dogs and hamburgers are always served on the proper rolls, and, though I rarely buy a loaf of sandwich bread, it's either multi-grain or some fancy-pants bread from a bakery.

I have grown up to do the exact opposite of everything my parents ever did and my life is so much happier now.
posted by bondcliff at 6:53 AM on September 14 [29 favorites]


My mom also keeps all bread in the freezer -- presliced Peperidge Farm white bread -- which is great because you can easily spread (refrigerated) butter on it very evenly without damaging the bread. This is her secret to wonderful grilled cheese sandwiches. For other sandwiches we would leave some slices out to be used later or pop them in the toaster. I keep some bread, buns etc. in the freezer long term, but keep the currently active loaf in the refrigerator. (We don't usually eat it fast enough to keep it in a cabinet, bread box, etc., it would go stale.)
posted by thefool at 6:58 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


We used to have an upright piano in the living room, the first thing you'd pass if you entered the front door. My dad plonked his keys and wallet on it when he'd get home.

And then piano was sold off and replaced by a table... which everyone kept calling "the piano."

When my parents moved and took the table with them, it went into the dining room instead. It is still "the piano" and my dad still puts his keys and wallet on it.
posted by Foosnark at 6:59 AM on September 14 [84 favorites]


Growing up my family had a lot of weird eating habits, but I knew that at the time as my lunches and dinners were never like any of my friends', but the one that really stands out now were all the onions. We ate a lot of raw onions. Cooking, green, vidalia, spanish, whatever. On their own. In sandwiches. On top of stew. In burritos. Raw onions. And lots of radishes, which were always served with butter and salt.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:59 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


that channel changing device is either the 'mote or the 'troll.
posted by freethefeet at 7:02 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


I think I use those words interchangeably, so I will confess that I can't even guess what this could mean.

A comforter is a type of blanket with stuffing like down inside.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:04 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


My mother used to store all kinds of stuff in the oven (pots and pans, donuts, bread) and almost caused a fire at my house because of it. She had been feeding the cats while I was on vacation and left me a bag of bagels in the oven for when I got home. Without telling me.

I got home and turned the oven on to make something without checking first (it might have even been the next day). The bagels were in a paper bag, inside a plastic bag. Bad times.

I always check the oven first thing when I get back from vacation these days.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:06 AM on September 14 [12 favorites]


Somehow I forgot about my mother's habit of cleaning the house while guests are still in it, which is something she still does to this day. It's more than just clearing the dinner table and loading the dishwasher - any get-together with lots of family (Thanksgiving, Christmas, whatever) everyone will be relaxing and chatting with each other while she will be grabbing people's glasses (whether they're done with it or not) to wash, vacuuming under people's feet, wiping down tables... and then getting upset when folks are continuing to sit and snack and drink and getting the coffee table dirty again. The house will be spotless before the last guest leaves.

Turns out that kind of behavior is really uncomfortable for guests and not everyone does it! And it's even bled over a bit in to my own life, where I will try to be helpful and clean up around my wife while she's cooking or baking. And then she gets upset because I put a spoon in the dishwasher but she wasn't done with it and she just wants me to get out of her hair so she can make the mess that she wants.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:11 AM on September 14 [16 favorites]


ghharr: I love your family meeting concept, and I want to know if the family song was about your family, or if it was just a random selection from Rise Up Singing or what
posted by dismas at 7:13 AM on September 14 [19 favorites]


A comforter is a type of blanket with stuffing like down inside.

Huh. I don't think I've ever owned a "blanket" in that case. It would never occur to me that anything other than a stuffed-blanket (?) would be on a bed. Except at a hotel where there are like 65 things on the bed and you have to figure out what to do with all of them.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:14 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


Crocheted blankets are pretty popular where I come from.
posted by Quonab at 7:16 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


I got home and turned the oven on to make something without checking first (it might have even been the next day). The bagels were in a paper bag, inside a plastic bag. Bad times.

Yeah, my former MIL used to do that. She never cooked or baked much, so the oven was for storing tons of bread in plastic bags. One time I'd offered to cook a real meal, I entered the kitchen and turned on the broiler as the first thing. Luckily the smell of melted plastic came before a fire, but I might as well have gone out of the kitchen to lay the table or something.

I don't live in the US, and I have literally never used the front door of our family farm. My granddad used to go out and knock on it when he was pretending to be Santa for Christmas. But even really fancy guests came in through the scullery. Now I've moved the furnace and the laundry machines so the scullery appears a bit more formal.
My suburban family also always use the back door, except my middle sister, because they don't really have one.
posted by mumimor at 7:17 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Huh. I don't think I've ever owned a "blanket" in that case. It would never occur to me that anything other than a stuffed-blanket (?) would be on a bed. Except at a hotel where there are like 65 things on the bed and you have to figure out what to do with all of them.

Yep, that's the attitude of my husband's fam too. They also don't use comforter covers or top sheets. Or make their beds. Whereas I was raised in a family where many-layered beds were made every morning, including decorative pillows, topsheets, comforter covers, etc.

I fall somewhere in between. It can be nice to snuggle under a comforter, but there's also something nice about a bunch of layers on a cool, freshly made bed, which I make approximately twice a week.

No decorative pillows, though. Fuck that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:18 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


When my husband and his brother were growing up, whenever they wanted some big/important item, they had to submit written proposals.
posted by the_blizz at 7:23 AM on September 14 [80 favorites]


Minimal layers of bedding. Mattress cover sheet, and either a blanket or a quilt, depending on weather.
Quilt being a comforter or stuffed blanket.

I was surprised when in some places they fold the quilt in half widthways (rectangle into square, roughly) when making the bed.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 7:24 AM on September 14


Oh yeah, and I had a health-foodie mom, so I grew up thinking that "grilled cheese" was open-faced cheese on bread toasted in the toaster over.
posted by the_blizz at 7:27 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


My weird family thing, that I have yet to meet another person whose family did this, is that the dogs that my Grandmother and her sister owned, all had the same name...

We had three dogs, one after the other, all named Taffy. Taffy 1, Taffy 2, Taffy 3. I had no idea this was weird until I got to college.

In my family it was verboten to leave the dinner table without asking "may I be excused?". We weren't a particularly formal family but this was a weird outlier. When I got to college I would sometimes reflexively ask "may I be excused?" in the cafeteria and everyone thought that was bizarre.

We also were taught, as kids, to answer the phone with our last name, like "Hello, Vortexes" (Vortices?). That was another habit I had a hard time shaking. That first year of college was hard.

We also had a yellow plastic barf bowl. I wonder if we all had the same kind? I'm pretty sure ours was a tupperware knockoff the color of a melted goldenrod crayon.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:27 AM on September 14 [10 favorites]


My brothers and I were all assigned colours, and everything we had was that colour: towels, cups, toothbrush, game piece when playing board games. My first roommate seemed horrified when he learned that I’d never used a green mug, though it is my favourite color.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 7:28 AM on September 14 [26 favorites]


ghharr: I love your family meeting concept, and I want to know if the family song was about your family, or if it was just a random selection from Rise Up Singing or what

As I recall we only had 4-6 songs that we alternated and it was maybe half folk songs and half old rock songs. The only two I examples I can remember for sure are "My Bonnie Lies over the Ocean" and "Do Wah Diddy Diddy". I guess I could ask my mom to look back in the minutes and see what else we sang!

I think she got the whole idea from a Quaker friend, so the original concept was probably hymns, but we weren't religious.
posted by ghharr at 7:30 AM on September 14 [44 favorites]


My mom always used a decades-old dry parsley container as a parmesan cheese shaker. It was perfect because the big shaker holes were ideal for home-grated parmesan cheese, and it had a screw top for fridge storage.

When l grew up and got my own place and found myself in need of my own cheese shaker, I went looking through all the options in stores and none of them seemed right. Like, the jars are just open with no lid? What is my house, a pizza joint?

So thankfully Stop & Shop still sold the perfect parsley container that I could eventually repurpose as a cheese shaker. Once I used up the parsley, I did my best to scrape the label off the plastic jar and scribbled the word "cheese" on it with a red Sharpie. I was content with this and used it all the time. I finally felt like I had the correct cheese storage container and shaker.

The first time my now-husband's parents came over for dinner, I made a nice pasta dish and promptly put the old parsley jar cheese shaker, complete with "cheese" sloppily written on the torn remnants of the parsley label, on the table for everyone to use. I suddenly started laughing because it had never occurred to me how weird and off-putting that would look to anyone else.
posted by bananana at 7:31 AM on September 14 [30 favorites]


Oh: in my husband's family, the kids were raised believing that if they didn't pray over the food before eating, they would get botulism.
posted by Elly Vortex at 7:33 AM on September 14 [10 favorites]


Rice in the salt shaker isn’t weird. If you live someplace humid and don’t have ac, the rice absorbs ambient moisture so the salt doesn’t clump too tight for the shaker holes.
posted by toodleydoodley at 7:35 AM on September 14 [31 favorites]


We had a front door into the living room, and a side-door into the kitchen/breakfast room that was next to the garage. EVERYONE used the side door, which was closer to the driveway and had a bigger coat closet and a nice area to dump your shoes as you came in. We used the front door for big parties or older people we didn't know well (to be respectful). Even the UPS guy and the postman used the side door! But every now and then, someone came to our house for the first time and went to the front door, and my mother would shout, "OH GOD, HE'S GOING TO THE FRONT DOOR!" which was the cue for whatever child was closest to RACE to the front door and fight with the lock (which stuck) and then yank and yank and yank on the door (which stuck like a mofo). No child under 12 could manage it because of the strength needed to get it loose! But we never fixed it because we used it twice a year on purpose and maybe twice a year when someone went to the wrong door.

We also called it shaky cheese, because it's the cheese that comes in the shaker! Or shaky parm, sometimes, to differentiate from the GOOD parmesan that's freshly shredded/shaved. Like, "Do you want some parmesan on your pasta?" "Shaky parm or good parm?" "Only shaky, unfortunately." "Mmmmmm ... yeah, okay."

My husband grew up in a family where "manners" were only for impressing people, and you didn't have to use them at home at all, and I was horrified. I grew up that family manners and company manners were different, sure, but that it was actually MORE important to say please and thank you to the people you live with so that you don't all murder each other in your sleep and everyone can get along. This was a point of contention for several years.

I thought it was super-weird when, as an adult, I found out how many of my peers had never been to a funeral ... their parents thought it was "too upsetting" for children and then it had just somehow never happened and they'd be in their late 20s or early 30s and having to go to a funeral for a friend's parent or a coworker or something and have no idea how funerals worked or how to behave and I just found that so odd. I still find it odd! I'm sure I'd been to a dozen before I left for college, in a variety of religious traditions.

(I also find it very strange when people dress children under 7 in black for funerals; little kids just wear something tasteful and dressy, but never black.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:35 AM on September 14 [14 favorites]


We would make "pizza" in the toaster oven using an english muffin, a spoonful of Ragu or whatever leftover sauce we had in the fridge, and a slice of Kraft American Processed Cheese Food.

We did the same thing except with crumpets and a grill. It was called 'Crumpet Pizza' and we discovered it watching Blue Peter, so imagine lots of UK families did it.

It would never occur to me that anything other than a stuffed-blanket (?) would be on a bed.

For me, blankets are knitted woollen things like this. See them on beds all the time, but usually they're on top of the quilt and/or sheet.
posted by robertc at 7:37 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Like, the jars are just open with no lid? What is my house, a pizza joint?

Ours was always covered with plastic wrap in the fridge. Which seems sort of extra-odd, I guess? Anyway these days I just serve it out of the container with a spoon because I'm the only one who uses it. Any situation where the smell (it's extra-stinky pecorino romano, generally) might potentially leak out into the general fridge would be ruinous to my marriage.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:40 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


You all used bowls to puke in? We just used a small bathroom trashcan.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:43 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


My mom always used a decades-old dry parsley container as a parmesan cheese shaker.

Mine still does use decades-old herb and spice containers, but with their original contents. All the herbs and spices are now appealing shades of white and grey. The salt still tastes fine, though.
posted by pipeski at 7:44 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


Rice in the salt shaker isn’t weird. If you live someplace humid and don’t have ac, the rice absorbs ambient moisture so the salt doesn’t clump too tight for the shaker holes.

Yeah, I know the reason, but we lived in NJ and I never ever saw that in another household growing up (and haven't since, but come to think of it, do people really have salt shakers on the table anymore?)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:46 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


do people really have salt shakers on the table anymore?

Yes.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:52 AM on September 14 [13 favorites]


We also called it shaky cheese

crumbum cheez
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 7:54 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Roast Beef should be served with Branston Pickle.

Yes, you should have butter outside of the fridge, but for goodness sakes, use a butter dish with a cover.
posted by BigCalm at 7:54 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


The examples in the article all seem pretty tame but I'm loving this thread.

I still find it odd when people my age don't remember things from TV, especially late night, from when we were young. I guess most people didn't grow up watching Johnny Carson, and sometimes David Letterman, as a family from about age 4. I got more sleep on nights when Leno was guesting and we all went to bed after the Cheers re-run that was on before The Tonight Show. We've been married for 19 years and I know my wife was in bed by 8 as a kid, but I still often say "remember so-and-so on Carson that night in 1982 when Doc was out sick and she said the thing about..." Blank stares followed by "YOURS is the weird family!" every time.

I grew up in an extended family where everybody at Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. got together to wash the dishes after a meal. It is a really nice time of joking and hanging out while not burdening any one person. The people who worked hardest on the meal are not expected to do dishes unless they want to and it's just understood. There have been some very uncomfortable times at my in-laws houses when I've tried to help clear and wash dishes because men DO NOT wash dishes. They sit in the rocking chair. Over time I've worked my way into the kitchen and now it's not weird, but it took years. Similarly, as the now oldest man in my mother-in-law's family I'm supposed to sit at the head of the table in the chair that matches but is fancier than the others. They make such a thing out of it that I just can't do it. In my house we just sat wherever. I think I'm being rude to not accept this honor but it makes me so anxious.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:56 AM on September 14 [12 favorites]


The ancient farmhouses i knew as a kid, you definitely didn't use the front door. Pretty much everyone (bar the vicar) used the door straight into the kitchen

My dad's a vicar in Denmark, and the front door to both their old and current vicarage (he moved parishes after my maternal grandparents - who they were near - died, in order to be closer to my now very elderly paternal grandparents) have fairly inconvenient front doors, but back doors that open straight onto laundry rooms. So the upshot is that practically everyone except the vicar (and the rest of his family - us) uses the front door!
posted by Dysk at 7:59 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


My mom always used a decades-old dry parsley container as a parmesan cheese shaker.

My parents use a prescription pill bottle as a salt shaker.
posted by like_neon at 7:59 AM on September 14 [11 favorites]


I grew up in an extended family where everybody at Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. got together to wash the dishes after a meal. It is a really nice time of joking and hanging out while not burdening any one person. The people who worked hardest on the meal are not expected to do dishes unless they want to and it's just understood. There have been some very uncomfortable times at my in-laws houses when I've tried to help clear and wash dishes because men DO NOT wash dishes. They sit in the rocking chair.

Same thing in my family and also my in-laws are like this and it was so bizarre to me. What's worse, the men usually completely disappear during the preparation of the meal to watch football or marching band videos (?) in the den while drinking Manhattans. When my then-boyfriend vanished when I was 18 the first time I met my in-laws I was so distressed! He's been reluctant to shake up that pattern because it's clearly important to the men in the family (though who wouldn't want to go have fun drinks and do nothing while other people cook and clean for you?) but thankfully has so that our daughter doesn't see that kind of gender shit as she grows up.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:00 AM on September 14 [11 favorites]


My parents insisted (and still do) that no dishes should be cleared from the table until everyone was done, even to the point of asking to make sure it was permissible to clear the table when everyone appeared to have finished. This extended to restaurants, where my father would routinely have to keep an eye out for overzealous waitstaff (some places get it and would take a hint after being deflected once, at others we would have to hold the line). I still try to do this, in the belief that clearing plates early can make the slowest eater feel rushed, but the default in many restaurants is definitely to clear plates as quickly as possible and I'm not always fast enough to deflect. Either that or a tablemate will assent to dishes being cleared and I'm not about to shout BELAY THAT ORDER.

We also ate dinner "late," like 8pm (or sometimes later if my father worked late) and I still do. I continue not to really trust dishwashers, at least not without a decent prewash first.

Although suburban, we did use the front door, though the side door also got a lot of use, being closest to the kitchen and the stairs. While there was no plastic on the livingroom furniture, we were often admonished to "sit on it nicely" as opposed to our youthful penchant for laying across it. Eating and drinking on it was suspect unless we had company.
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 8:03 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, and growing up in Hong Kong and now living in Britain, but being from a Danish family, the thing we do/did that always weirded my friends out was singing bordvers - a verse of a harvest hymn (there are several, and my parents like to change it up) - instead of saying grace. Perfectly normal in religious households in Denmark (if a little old fashioned now, especially if you're not proper rural) but fucking weird to Hong Kongers and Brits.
posted by Dysk at 8:04 AM on September 14 [8 favorites]


Oh, another thing: in my family we always peeled the garlic, a really irritating task (it gets so stuck under your finger nails!) that was usually assigned to me, before chopping it and I was stunned when my high school best friend showed me how to smash it first. Similarly, we were raised flushing all sorts of things down the toilet (hair! dental floss! tampons! q-tips!). I learned not to do this sometime in college and the first time my mom came to our house with a new, delicate septic system and I told her not to flush hair because it clogs the pipes and screws with the septic, she shared that once a friend of hers had gotten annoyed at her for this and she assumed that the woman was just being extra prickly.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:08 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


I never had a puke bowl, but I only had a stomach flu 2 or 3 times as a kid so my mom probably wasn't prepared. But I did worry about making it, and hated being up more than necessary, so I slept in the tub. Still do, on the rare occasion that I have the need. The cool edges feel nice.

We didn't have air conditioning in our third-floor walk-up apartment, and would cool ourselves off by sitting with our feet in a basin of cool water. My husband thinks this is completely ridiculous but the kid and I both like it.

I went to bed later than my mother most nights starting from around age 8; she got up very early to prepare for work, do homework, or do housework. Bathroom door usually open for peeing, closed for pooping.

I didn't have a puffy quilted thing to sleep under until college, and still think of that style as "fancy blankets". We had thin quilts and the scratchy kind of blankets with the silky edges, piled up pretty much willy-nilly until there was enough to stay warm.

sy: A lot of the way things were in your childhood can be explained by the fact that you were living in a household with small children. You get to know your parents while they are doing one of the most stressful things many people ever do, which is raise children.

I was indeed going through this thread imagining what my kid will say. His puke bucket is a berrying bucket from the local upick because it happened to be deep and clean that time we needed it, and then we put it in the linen closet for next time and now he finds it comforting when feeling icky. I write detailed schedules on a white board, because we hear 95% less whining when I point to the schedule. Cat food is properly stored on top of the fridge, but only because the cat will tear it open anywhere reachable, and isn't a jumper. Family School (doing some math and/or reading every day during the summer) because he was the youngest kid in class and had catching up to do the first couple years.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:08 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


My grandparents were dustbowl refugees and introduced a lot of regionalisms that were pretty foreign to my peers. We pretty much only ever got soda/pop at their place, but there it was called "coke" and pretty much the only "coke" on offer was either Squirt or root beer. That others didn't call all soda/pop "coke" took me a while to figure out.

Also, thirding the salt on watermelon. But my grandpa went one further and added fresh ground black pepper.

We used pans as pukebowls. Stainless steel and a convenient handle.
posted by St. Oops at 8:11 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


I eventually realized that the terrible white gunk my mom was giving us and the delicious creamy stuff in cartons at the lunchroom were supposedly the same thing

I had a similar experience. My mom didn't like milk and never drank it, so it probably seemed perfectly reasonable to her to buy powdered skim milk - it's cheaper and more convenient. She might not even have realized how different it was from real milk, though you'd think when I started talking about how much better milk was at fast food restaurants and at school she might have gotten a clue. (Or clued me in.) For a long time I thought the difference was that they kept it colder at restaurants, or that it tasted different through a straw. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I realized what the problem was and my brother and I started insisting that my mom buy real milk.
posted by Redstart at 8:16 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]




We didn't have a dedicated puke bowl, but we definitely used one.

Both my parents wear shoes in the house and always have, even if they're just hanging around during the day. I was an adult before I realized the world at large considers this completely disgusting. And now that I'm an adult with my own home, it really bothers me that they do this when they come to visit me. They also never had lounge wear! They would wear their regular day clothes (and shoes) right up until the very moment it was time to change for bed. The internet is full of people who simply don't wear pants if they're at home, take their bras off immediately upon getting home from work, etc. That never, ever happened in our family.

Taco night was super weird: we never had tortilla chips in our house, only Doritos. And we made tacos with baked beans, never refried or black or anything like that. And that was all that went in a taco: meat, baked beans, shredded cheese. No lettuce, tomatoes, onions, salsa, nothing.

Someone mentioned funerals. I too never went to a funeral as a kid.

Never stored butter in the fridge, always in a cupboard. Not even in a proper butter bell either, but in a little white ramekin. I still do this.

We didn't use washcloths, just...lathered up with the communal bar of soap that was sitting there. That does seem kinda gross now. We never had loofahs or body wash or whatever, which seemed unspeakably fussy when I went to college and every other girl on my floor had one, so I went out and bought one to try but eventually migrated back to bar soap since it was just me using it at that point.

We put the cracked/empty eggs back in the carton and I maintain that that makes COMPLETE SENSE. Then you just compost the whole thing when the carton is finished.

Assigned seats at the dinner table, yep. And we ate dinner together EVERY NIGHT, despite PTA or church meetings and sports practices and all manner of extracurriculars. I've heard about the death and decline of family dinner in America where everyone fixes their own plates and then takes it off to their bedrooms or to the television to eat, and it's completely foreign to me. I would sooner expect the sun to fall out of the sky than for that to ever happen in my family home.

Oh, my mom had us tediously clear all plates and serving dishes individually because she thought it was the height of grossness to scrape a bunch of old food into a big pile in front of everyone that was still sitting at the table just so you could more easily stack the plates.

We only ever had comforters on our beds, which I feel like is much less of a done thing nowadays because they're so much harder to clean.
posted by anderjen at 8:21 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


When my sister and I were being put to bed as kids, we would sometimes get read stories and we would sometimes get sung songs. A lot of our favorites came from this huge book of traditional folk songs my parents had. There were probably very few other children in the 1990s whose favorite songs were The Golden Vanity or The Minstrel Boy To The War Has Gone.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:22 AM on September 14 [10 favorites]


I had a similar experience. My mom didn't like milk and never drank it, so it probably seemed perfectly reasonable to her to buy powdered skim milk - it's cheaper and more convenient.

Same, we were poor so we had powdered skim milk for the 3 kids and it was only ever tolerable, even if we pushed the limits on how much extra powder we could add to the water. The unsweetened cereal we had as kids would have thick crust of sugar dumped on it to make it edible. So the first time I made my own breakfast at grandma's place with 2%, I was just floored how much better the rice krispies tasted.
posted by Kyol at 8:22 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


We also had a yellow plastic barf bowl. I wonder if we all had the same kind? I'm pretty sure ours was a tupperware knockoff the color of a melted goldenrod crayon.

Pretty sure ours was a Rubbermaid sink basin (back right in this advertisement). And yes, it was Crayola goldenrod yellow.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 8:23 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, and I had a health-foodie mom, so I grew up thinking that "grilled cheese" was open-faced cheese on bread toasted in the toaster over.

This! Grilled cheese was cheese on bread broiled in the oven. It's perfectly tasty, but I had no idea that you make a grilled cheese on the stove top.
posted by Frowner at 8:24 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Both my parents wear shoes in the house and always have, even if they're just hanging around during the day. I was an adult before I realized the world at large considers this completely disgusting. And now that I'm an adult with my own home, it really bothers me that they do this when they come to visit me. They also never had lounge wear! They would wear their regular day clothes (and shoes) right up until the very moment it was time to change for bed. The internet is full of people who simply don't wear pants if they're at home, take their bras off immediately upon getting home from work, etc. That never, ever happened in our family.

Yes, to all of this. I remember when my sister started living in NYC when I was a teen and introduced to us the idea of, first, shoes off in the house/apartment, and then, later mentioned a friend who wouldn't put her subway-besmirched jeans anywhere near her bed. It seemed odd at the time and now it seems sensible. None of the older generation will take their shoes off in our house, for what it's worth.

Taco night was super weird: we never had tortilla chips in our house, only Doritos. And we made tacos with baked beans, never refried or black or anything like that. And that was all that went in a taco: meat, baked beans, shredded cheese. No lettuce, tomatoes, onions, salsa, nothing.

I've realized that taco night is a night of true differences between families. Our taco nights growing up were from a taco kit, with all sorts of fixings, but my husband generally grew up without much fresh fruit or veg in his house and has introduced us to the meat and cheese taco. Which is ground beef with seasoning, taco sauce, cheese. I usually add at least sour cream and lettuce, but I'm the only one who eats them. This suits my very picky kid fine (she doesn't even put meat on hers, just refers to them as "cheese boat tacos.") We had taco night at a friend's house and they actually served fish sticks as a taco ingredient. Which wasn't bad, but seemed beyond bizarre to my child.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:28 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


The birthday candles in the freezer doesn't sound that weird to me, it sounds smart. You almost never use a full package, and they get warped in the slightest heat, so you end up with a drawer full of half-empty packages of bent candles. So if you don't want to buy new for every birthday, keep them in the freezer where they won't warp.
posted by tavella at 8:29 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Both my parents wear shoes in the house and always have, even if they're just hanging around during the day. I was an adult before I realized the world at large considers this completely disgusting.

I wear my shoes in my house, and it's not disgusting. Taking your shoes off is an artifact of the time when floors were much harder to keep clean and much more manual labor went in to cleaning them.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:32 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


I've yet to find a living soul outside my family who calls woodlice sower bugs, so it took a few very confusing conversations to establish that they were one and the same insect (I kind of figured woodlice must be like headlice but live in the forest...).
posted by Otto the Magnificent at 8:34 AM on September 14


I haven't gotten through all of the comments, but I just had to add my personal curve ball for peanut butter cuisine. My mom always made peanut butter and lettuce sandwiches, and yeah I've never encountered anywhere else where that's a thing. I still enjoy them.

Also going to University and finding out that my biggest conversational comeback was totally a Hamilton (Ontario) regional thing and no one had any idea what I was talking about was a shock. For the curious we used to use "Nice head" to basically mean "You don't know what you are talking about" or basically BS. This was not... well received :)
posted by cirhosis at 8:34 AM on September 14 [8 favorites]


TIL that "taco night" isn't a thing only done by TV People.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:35 AM on September 14 [12 favorites]


My family brings a cooler of beer to wakes and when things get too emotional we go outside and have a little tailgate. Thought all Irish American families did that until I went away to college.

Are there wakes that don't feature enough alcohol to float a battleship?
I've never been to an Irish American (or Italian American or Polish or Mexican) where you would have need to supply your own beer for a tailgate.
posted by madajb at 8:35 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Wearing shoes in the house is disgusting. There is still a lot of work keeping floors clean. But we've gone over this one before.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:35 AM on September 14 [13 favorites]


We kept candles in the freezer too, right next to the bird specimens and the insects my mom would collect and hadn't taken into work yet.

Caused a conversation or two when you'd tell a friend to get a popsicle.
posted by bonehead at 8:35 AM on September 14 [8 favorites]


Oh, another thing. We didn't keep kosher, but there was NEVER, EVER pork or shellfish in our house. No one in my family ate it in restaurants either. A cheeseburger was no problem, but ham? Never.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:35 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


Also: Not using any but the most basic OTC medications. I grew up thinking that they were scams - that everyone bought, eg, Claritin but that those things didn't work, that they were just sugar pills. A housemate asked me to pick up some cough suppressant cold meds for him when I was in my early twenties and I was astonished that someone smart would fall for such an obvious fraud. When I took one, several years later, and found that it actually suppressed my cough....mind blown.

I also had no idea that you might take Advil or something because your body hurt - that stuff was just for headaches.

I'd never heard of Neosporin and when it basically saved me from early-stage blood poisoning it was a real "brave new world that has such medications in it" moment.

I look back and think about things I missed out on due to pain or illness because I didn't understand that medications worked and it's weird. Especially because my parents were not at all anti-doctor or anti-medicine as a general thing - I got all my vaccinations and had regular check-ups, got appropriate care, saw the doctor for the one serious childhood illness that I had, rested and was cared for when sick, etc.
posted by Frowner at 8:36 AM on September 14 [23 favorites]


Called the tv remote the channel changer

Yes. And?

Every Christmas Eve we’d put “reindeer food” out in the yard. One year I asked why there were no footprints. After that my mom used an old severed deer leg our dog found (we lived in the country) to make hoofprints and keep my childhood Christmases magical.

Or... reindeer fly. Case closed. Now throw away that nasty thing.

We had a small kitchen & used our oven for storage. We kept tons of pots, pans, baking sheets, etc. packed to the max. Moved in with two of my best friends & they made fun of me nonstop for instinctively checking the oven all the time for pots & pans

Perfectly normal.
posted by Splunge at 8:36 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my cousins. They lived in a small town in a huge old Civil War-era mansion, with questionable plumbing and terrible water pressure. So every morning, anyone who wanted to wash their hair did so using the only faucet with decent water pressure -- the one at the kitchen sink. As the kids got older, this basically meant six shampooings a day at the kitchen sink. I was totally astounded but to them, this was normal.
posted by martin q blank at 8:39 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


My wife had a few iced tea spoons that became common property when we moved in together. Rarely used, never thought about. One day she asked me to get her a "gelato spoon," which I assumed meant those tiny paddles you sometimes eat gelato with, or maybe espresso spoons? Either way, we didn't have any.

No, evidently in her house, iced tea spoons (which are strange enough to own to begin with, when nobody in the house drinks iced tea) were called gelato spoons.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:40 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


I've yet to find a living soul outside my family who calls woodlice sower bugs

This sounds like a variant on "sow bugs", which is a pretty common name for them around here, as are "pill bugs" and "roly-polies". Lots of weird names for those critters.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:40 AM on September 14 [8 favorites]


We had assigned seats at the dinner table, that was really to prevent the fist fights my brothers and I would have over various seats. We would rotate seats every 3 months. Parents never moved.

The remote is actually called The Ba-boo.

My brother had a different from the rest of us plate because he refused to eat off of anything called China or made by communists in China.

It was not until I was living with a roommate that I realized that milk could be placed on either side of the shelf and did not have to be on the right side only as my mother insisted in our house.

I thought everyone knew what "Giving birth to a Texan" meant when I went to college. Turns out not many people do, but when they find out, they use it.
posted by AugustWest at 8:42 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


anyone who wanted to wash their hair did so using the only faucet with decent water pressure -- the one at the kitchen sink

That is exactly how my mom used to wash her hair. We also lived in an ancient house on a well with questionable plumbing and no water pressure. My dad installed a shower after we moved there. Water just kinda sadly dribbled out, so baths were the norm. The water also stank of sulfur and left iron stains on everything, so white clothes were not really a thing.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:44 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


We have Bob The Blue Barf Bowl.

We used to serve popcorn in it but....no longer.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:48 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


No, evidently in her house, iced tea spoons (which are strange enough to own to begin with, when nobody in the house drinks iced tea) were called gelato spoons.

My dad always referred to the rubber scraper spatula as a "rubber policeman." My brother and I adopted this without thinking twice and endured baffled looks for years whenever we used the same terminology until one day it finally occurred to me to Google it and realized it's a laboratory instrument (my dad was a microbiologist).
posted by anderjen at 8:49 AM on September 14 [7 favorites]


No drinks of any sort with meals (some kind of macrobiotic hippy thing or something?). It was positively bizarre to be offered a glass of water with a meal, and to realize everyone just takes it for granted.

No salad. As vegetarians, salad was terrible stale boring crap that a meat eating person gives you so you don't go without food (that and bread rolls). I didn't realize a salad could be a thing I would eat on purpose until I was in my thirties.
posted by idiopath at 8:50 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


Shoes inside, god yes! This is of course assuming the wearer can critically asses the status of one's footwear. Another lesson from the grandparents: on days when one wasn't mucking about the ranch, but rather in the "city", we were constantly on the lookout for oil slicks or other hazards that might sully one's soles. Our built environment is generally designed for proper drainage, one's shoes ought to be in a state of cleanliness not so dissimilar from one's trousers our outerwear. Boots, if one's been out in the woods or clearing brush or whatever, might be left by the front door.
posted by St. Oops at 8:51 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


My dad always referred to the rubber scraper spatula as a "rubber policeman."

I'm afraid I do too. My wife thinks it's hilarious.
posted by bonehead at 8:51 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


We ate black pepper & butter on sweet corn.

My wife boggled at the way my family keeps butter on the counter, so I have only had Hard Cold Butter since we wed.

(Could "shaky cheese" be a corruption of "Shakey's cheese," from the chain of pizza parlours who would have offered a shaker of dried parmesean cheese?)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:53 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


We had milk with every meal except on Wednesdays, which was pasta night. It was the only time we could have soda, which was usually flat store-brand soda. My mom had heard somewhere that tomatoes and milk, when mixed in your stomach, would cause all kinds of problems. It sounds good, but I've never heard of it anywhere else and it seems like if milk and tomatoes were bad, then milk and stomach acid would also be bad.
posted by bondcliff at 8:54 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


A) as an emetophobe, I'd really like to stop thinking about puke bowls and buckets. Also...

B) in my house, the puke bucket was, more likely than not, a puke paper grocery bag.
posted by hanov3r at 8:55 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


There were probably very few other children in the 1990s whose favorite songs were The Golden Vanity or The Minstrel Boy To The War Has Gone.

My mom did this! She taught me "The Minstrel Boy" when I was little. My parents said I had a fine voice, and suggested I could sing it for the Chieftains -- apparently, my dad knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy -- but I would have died of embarrassment if they had tried.

My dad always referred to the rubber scraper spatula as a "rubber policeman."

The jar-opening gripper mats were called "rubber husbands" at one time, although no one in my family could keep a straight face long enough for that.

Our family has a private dog language, which is not for outsiders, unless they are other dogs, as all dogs understand it.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:55 AM on September 14 [8 favorites]


We had three dogs, one after the other, all named Taffy. Taffy 1, Taffy 2, Taffy 3.

Oh man. We did the exact same thing. Except our (orange) Taffies were cats.
posted by mykescipark at 8:55 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


My dad always referred to the rubber scraper spatula as a "rubber policeman."

The other kind of spatula was only ever called a "pancake turner over" in our house.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:56 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


During family dinners, if anyone asked a question that required an in-depth answer, one of my parents would declare “Learning Opportunity!” This meant that we had to stop eating while someone fetched the appropriate encyclopedia or dictionary, looked the thing up, and read aloud the relevant information. We would then resume eating while discussing what we’d just heard.

We also had “family words”. To this day I refer to a toilet as a “connode.” (Yes, I know the word is “commode.”) Also, the Star Spangled Banner was called “Soup and Crackers For Lunch.” I have no idea why.
posted by kinnakeet at 8:59 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


As children, we rarely if ever went in each others houses.
I played with the same kids for 10+ years and never once saw their bedrooms.
If you did go in someone else's house, you stayed in the family room downstairs (if a split level ranch) or the non-formal living room (if a colonial).

The expected behaviour in my neighborhood was that, when you wanted to play, you just kinda hung around outside until someone else came out or, if you were really bored, you rung the front door bell which which would be opened by the appropriate aged child who would then come say whether they could play or not.

This is in direct contrast to my current neighborhood, where the kids all basically treat all the houses as communal property. Something I still can't get comfortable with and probably a big reason why my house is the least popular on the block.
posted by madajb at 8:59 AM on September 14 [7 favorites]


My weird family thing, that I have yet to meet another person whose family did this, is that the dogs that my Grandmother and her sister owned, all had the same name. For my Grandmother, it was Smokey, and for my Great Aunt, it was Duke. Both had dozens of dogs throughout their lives, and they all had the same name. I don't understand this at all.

I was an adult when I found out that my grandmother's blue parakeet Mr. Bird was actually a series of blue parakeets named Mr. Bird.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:00 AM on September 14 [18 favorites]


My parents were really funny about tap water- water out of the faucet was for washing dishes or brushing your teeth, not for drinking. I was a kid in the late '70's, so bottled water (at least where we lived) wasn't common yet. But the rest of my family loved soda and we had gallons of Fanta, RC and ginger ale fully stocked 24/7, and if we were thirsty that was what we were supposed to drink. If a friend came over and asked for a glass of water, my folks took it as a straight up insult. "Oh, so our pop isn't good enough for you? Maybe we should run to the store for some Pepsi, your highness??" It was weird and embarrassing, particularly considering that our town's tap water was delicious, better than any bottled water I've had since.

And I totally drink straight from the tap when I go to visit them. They have no idea how lucky they are!
posted by biddeford at 9:02 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


And we had three cats named Tabby: Tabby Gray Toenails, Tabby Black Beans, and Tabby Tan Tummy. Grandma had three orange cats named Buffy.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:05 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


We had three dogs, one after the other, all named Taffy. Taffy 1, Taffy 2, Taffy 3.

Huh, now that people are talking about it, we sort of did, too - my childhood pets were the cats Tabby, Toby, Tengy, the dog Tippy, and the semistray cat Angel.

Maybe Angel came around once we got off the dippy pet naming scheme? I'm pretty sure I was responsible for all the variations on the original Tippy name.
posted by Kyol at 9:05 AM on September 14


I'm proud to say that my kids think "foonsockled" is an actual word.
posted by condour75 at 9:18 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


The house I grew up in had a wonderful, huge front porch, with a porch swing and chairs - so of course we used the front door! Also, I used it to go outside and play with other kids in the neighborhood. We would generally range across all the front yards (except for a couple of them with Grumpy Owners). I would come up the alley and in the back door after school, usually because my grandma would be baking something, and I could lick the beaters or get a pie-crust cookie, or other goody.
This house also only had one full bath, with a tub only - I was in my teens when I discovered the glory that is a hot shower. Hair got washed in laundry sink in the basement. My hair was very fine as a little girl, so my mother would mix up some yellow stuff ('creme rinse") in a two-cup measuring cup and pour it slowly over my head for a few minutes, then rinse it out (mostly) so my hair wasn't an utterly tangled mess.
I wear shoes indoors because I went through a period of over five years with plantar fasciatis, which was painful enough *with* shoes, and excruciating without! Also, we go in/out a lot to the garden, and taking off/putting on shoes every single time - just nope.
posted by dbmcd at 9:18 AM on September 14


that channel changing device is either the 'mote or the 'troll.

My parents call it "the butts" or "the butt." I don't. Also for some unknown reason, the accelerator pedal in a car is "the putt", as in "push the putt!" grumbled at someone driving slow.

When Dad does the dishes, every drinking glass in the house gets rounded up and washed even if you had it right next to you with a drink in it. At my house, my personal designated water-only glass goes until it looks gross or tastes funny.
posted by Foosnark at 9:20 AM on September 14


We ate black pepper & butter on sweet corn.

Is this weird? How else would you eat it? Salt isn't a weird addition, but butter and black pepper is just correct.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:20 AM on September 14 [22 favorites]


Lemon and Parmesean cheese on corn maybe? I know I've had that somewhere and it was damn good. Although it could have been a pipe dream i guess.
posted by some loser at 9:24 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


In my family the remote is the remo-con-a-TROL, due to a toddler mispronunciation. However, in the eighties grandpa called it "the wand", which I kinda love.
posted by condour75 at 9:24 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


Also, my husband and I developed habits that we maintain to this day, because of (now long-dead) cats we used to have:
- Butter (even covered) must go in the cupboard because cat will nudge the lid off and round the corners
- q-tips must be in a covered container because cat thinks they are the most magical plaything ever, and will repeatedly pull one out, play until shredded - lather, rinse, repeat
- trash cans must have step-on lid, because cat referenced above thinks the only thing more magical than q-tips is earwax-flavored q-tips. And used ear plugs.
posted by dbmcd at 9:24 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


*Ctrl-F "Penis Beaker" 0/0*

Whew.
posted by The Bellman at 9:26 AM on September 14 [23 favorites]


Giving birth to a Texan

My wife is an Arkansan and will take any chance she gets to shit on Texas, so I'm surprised I haven't heard this from her.

My dad always referred to the rubber scraper spatula as a "rubber policeman."

She calls the spatula a "child cheater" (I think she got this from her father), because if you have a spatula then the kid doesn't get to lick the bowl.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:33 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


Our own cherished toddler mispronunciation is "Hanza-tanza-tizer" for 'hand sanitizer'....of course.

When we send the teen-agers up to bed, it's still "Nuh-nights time."

(And I called their much-loved blankies "bankety-blank" to this day.)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:34 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


The big thing I didn't understand until almost last week is that there's a FB meme going around apparently written by a vet, about how a lot of pet owners, when the time comes, let their pets be euthanized without them. In a back room somewhere, among strangers.

My family, when we could do it humanely (usually with ether from my Dad's lab - he was a chemist), euthanized our own pets. Or we called a home visit vet in. It's a way that we honor the lives of our pets. It's a way we see them out as humanely and lovingly and ethically as we can.

I feel kinda similarly about meat eaters - I think we ought to be able to attend a slaughter if we're gonna eat meat. My partner and I volunteer sometimes for Turkey dressing volunteer events (in the North Bay Area, usually), where turkeys raised by local 4H kids get slaughtered and dressed for serving on Thanksgivings. It's a way of life for agricultural families, but most other folks just don't have to see the process by which living animals get turned into meat.

But I think all my life I've known that my family engages with death in a very different way from many folks.

There is also, from my Chinese family, Ching Ming (Qing Ming), which is an annual family reunion at the family's cemetery, to honor our ancestors and clean up their graves. We fast, and then we bring food and drink, and burnt offerings (symbolic, paper analogs to money, wealth, clothing, etc. that, upon burning, go to them) to our ancestors, and when the ceremonial candles burn down, we can then eat the physical aspect of the food. Cemeteries do not frighten or bother me much, because at least one cemetery feels like my parlor, at least during the spring.
posted by kalessin at 9:36 AM on September 14 [18 favorites]


We had three dogs, one after the other, all named Taffy. Taffy 1, Taffy 2, Taffy 3.

Lemme guess: your parents were big into naval history?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:45 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


The big thing I didn't understand until almost last week is that there's a FB meme going around apparently written by a vet, about how a lot of pet owners, when the time comes, let their pets be euthanized without them. In a back room somewhere, among strangers.

When I had to do it, they made me affirm a couple of times that I was sure I really wanted to be there and could handle it.
posted by thelonius at 9:46 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


"My brother had a different from the rest of us plate because he refused to eat off of anything called China or made by communists in China."

Was your brother Alex P. Keaton?

How often you have a sit-down meal as a family is one of the things they ask you at the pediatrician and encourage you to do more often, so I do get some pleasure out of being able to tell them we sit down EVERY NIGHT. (A couple nights a week dad is home late, but the rest of us still sit down and eat.) (Not least because I'm not fucking cleaning crumbs from multiple rooms!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:50 AM on September 14 [11 favorites]


On Sunday nights my parents popped a gigantic amount of popcorn, shook it with butter and seasoned salt in a brown paper grocery bag, and that’s what was served for dinner. You ate popcorn while watching 60 Minutes, that what happened. I think they still do it, but who knows, maybe my mom was just tired of feeding 3 kids and a man-child by the time Sunday evening rolled around. I cooked myself dinner on Sundays from an early age because how do you get full on popcorn? My brother would melt a ridiculously large chunk of Velveeta cheese, mix it with salsa, and eat it with tortilla chips for his dinner. My husband was shocked the first (and only?) time he was at my parents’ house on a Sunday night.
posted by Maarika at 9:50 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


When I was young, my family referred to farts as "pookies" and butts as "coolies" for some unknown reason. I quickly learned how weird this was in elementary school after I loudly asked "who made a pookie?" on the playground.

In my husband's family, all the men are taught a special song that they sing as grace before eating holiday meals. Only the men sing and they try to outdo each other with really low, deep, loud voices. I was so confused my first Thanksgiving with them. It sounded like a dwarf party.
posted by galvanized unicorn at 9:52 AM on September 14 [38 favorites]


The reason you keep birthday candles in the fridge is that after the birthday person is older than twelve or so it can take so long to light all the candles that the first ones have burned down so far they are melting the icing before the last one is lit. Or they have melted down so fast that the wicks haven't burned down, so you have six candles with an inch and a half of flaming wick creating great heat and turning the top of the cake into a mixture of melted wax and melted icing.

However if the candles are frozen when you light them they burn slower and you have a better chance of getting all of them lit without scorching yourself or destroying the cake decorations.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:59 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


You know what I find the weirdest thing? That so many people eat that dust from a shaker that is called cheese. Please buy a chunk of real Parmigiano and a grater. You will never eat the dust again.
posted by Splunge at 9:59 AM on September 14 [18 favorites]


Growing up my dad referred to the pre-grated Kraft Parmesan "cheese" that was always in our house as "dishwasher soap". He insisted they were made of the same ingredients. We grate our own now.
posted by fimbulvetr at 10:09 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


My mom removed our earwax with a long wooden tool that I think she picked up in Chinatown. About once a fortnight, we would be summoned to her bathroom with bright lighting overhead, and have to lay our head on one side while she leaned over us and extracted our earwax, scraping it onto a little tissue or piece of toilet paper. This was called "hunting for bears" and was a totally normal part of our hygiene routine.
posted by wintersonata9 at 10:13 AM on September 14 [10 favorites]


In the early 80’s we called it the clicker.

I can confirm that my mom hasnt moved past this in 30+ years . . . though the irony is she now does very little clicking with it because it has a microphone/assistant feature so she just asks it to turn on her shows.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:13 AM on September 14


Don’t shaky cheese shame me.
posted by thelonius at 10:14 AM on September 14 [31 favorites]


Our neighborhood had a weird tradition...As kids in the 60s, Chicago suburb, we never used a doorbell or knocked on doors for our friends, but instead we'd stand outside the the front or back door and yell, Yoh-ohh Mary or John, or whoever...it was so normal then but seems so odd now. Anybody else do this?
posted by j810c at 10:15 AM on September 14


we never used a doorbell or knocked on doors for our friends, but instead we'd stand outside the the front or back door and yell, Yoh-ohh Mary or John, or whoever...it was so normal then but seems so odd now. Anybody else do this?

My dad (grew up in Chicago) had this rule. "If they don't know who they want to talk to, I don't want to talk to them."
posted by Etrigan at 10:18 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


I don't and won't have children but if I did they would grow up with any number of weird little things that Coco and I picked up because we like it:

1. Pinning a dollar to our shirt on birthdays (we got this in New Orleans)
2. Having work clothes and home clothes and changing when we get home (this used to be common but has fallen by the wayside)
3. Having eggs and beans on toast on Sundays (from when I lived in England as a boy; decidedly uncommon in America)
4. Referring to small dogs as boopers or bugs (don't know how that came about)
5. Making a farty noise when somebody on television makes a face or exits a room suddenly
6. Sleeping in separate rooms despite being a couple (it's just nice to have your own room)

I'm sure there are a ton more. We're weirdos.
posted by maxsparber at 10:19 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


On Sunday nights my parents popped a gigantic amount of popcorn, shook it with butter and seasoned salt in a brown paper grocery bag,

That's how we made the popcorn we took to the drive-in every week. Bag of popcorn, hot dogs wrapped in tinfoil, and a gallon jug of Kool-Aid. Kids in jammies.

We call the remote control "the REE-mote." I have no idea why.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:20 AM on September 14 [1 favorite]


Puke buckets were not a thing in my family growing up; I had a girlfriend in my early twenties who introduced the concept to me when I was deathly ill and I, in turn, introduced it to my wife when she was deathly ill. It's a thing now in my house.

On Sunday nights my parents popped a gigantic amount of popcorn, shook it with butter and seasoned salt in a brown paper grocery bag, and that’s what was served for dinner...I cooked myself dinner on Sundays from an early age because how do you get full on popcorn? My brother would melt a ridiculously large chunk of Velveeta cheese, mix it with salsa, and eat it with tortilla chips for his dinner. My husband was shocked the first (and only?) time he was at my parents’ house on a Sunday night.

For a while - once my brother and I were old enough to fend for ourselves in the kitchen - my parents made Sunday night into "take out" night; as in, take whatever you want out of the fridge/freezer and make yourself dinner. It came to a weird end when I started just leaving the house a little before dinner and grabbing some fast food; they were a little startled when I said I decided to take myself out for dinner.
posted by nubs at 10:24 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


I’m still stuck on the washing the fish with soap. That doesn’t even seem healthy. I read that comment hours ago and can’t stop thinking about it.
posted by sio42 at 10:26 AM on September 14 [82 favorites]


I'm still on the daily sheet changer! Did they have maids? Sheet-changing is by far my least favorite chore, I can't imagine doing it daily on purpose (rather than because you have a sick child).

I call the TV remote a "clicker" too, but I actually picked it up from a college roommate who called it that (my birth family calls it a remote), and it stuck. We have the "big clicker" and "little clicker" also known as the "TV clicker" and "netflix clicker." As in, "No, I can't turn on Dinotrux unless you locate the netflix clicker!"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:29 AM on September 14 [9 favorites]


Having work clothes and home clothes and changing when we get home (this used to be common but has fallen by the wayside)

Not in my house, but a friend's, they had "school clothes" meaning that when you got home from school you were meant to change your clothes.
The "school clothes" were no different than regular clothes (not like a school uniform or anything).

As teenagers, we'd come into their house after school and immediately head for the bedroom, which would inevitably lead a parent to shout "No school clothes on the bed!".

Segue to 30 years later, when my family is traveling, and we get to a hotel room (or wherever we are staying) after a long journey and someone dumps their bag and flops on the bed, they will hear the refrain "No school clothes on the bed!".
posted by madajb at 10:30 AM on September 14


So many things on this thread are comfortingly familiar and familiarly comfortable.

Peanut butter and honey? Absolutely superior.

Puke bucket? Obviously. Who wouldn't do this? Once bitten...

The butter thing... In my house growing up there was always butter left out for spreadability; if however, for reasons - ambient temperature, length of time out etc. the butter was moved to the refrigerator the complaint was always that we had to deal with "picnic butter" i.e. butter that was halfway to frozen because it was stored on the cold pack in the picnic basket and when you try to spread it on the bread it will tear your slice of bread to shreds. There was no greater ignominy than picnic butter.

I later learned to my chagrin that nobody else was aware of "picnic butter".
posted by SonInLawOfSam at 10:41 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


We had "school clothes" and "play clothes," too.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:50 AM on September 14 [6 favorites]


We called the remote "the flipper" (you flip through channels with it!) and I had to train myself out of this in college. We also called twist-ties "hicky-hackies" which I still maintain is a better word.

My parents (and thus me and both of my sisters) will sing at any opportunity. There are a huge number of songs that I know exactly one line to and have never heard sung by their original performers but that I know because that's the one line of the song my dad sings while making toast (or whatever). We have songs for certain things happening while you play Settlers of Catan. We had to have a rule about not singing at the dinner table when I was little because it got too disruptive.

We were also taught that curse words were only okay if you were singing and they were already part of the lyrics of the song.

My mother loves to give weird names to common household items and there was a period where she consistently referred to the butter (which is, yes, kept in a butter dish on the counter) as Boutros Boutros-Ghali, or simply "Boutros". After a while, you forget that this is in fact a super weird thing to do and find yourself asking guests to "pass the boutros".
posted by darchildre at 10:59 AM on September 14 [25 favorites]


We had a series of 3 Siamese cats named Pretty Boy after the first Pretty Boy, a parakeet we gave to my grandparents when he became attached to their parakeet.

The pajamas under the pillow thing is actually a clue in a Columbo mystery where an accessory after the fact dresses the victim in a nightgown he takes from the closet, but her current nightgown is under her pillow.

My husband and I actually started a new tradition--whenever we go through a toll in the EZ Pass lane, we say "Go go gadget EZ Pass!" Works like a charm. We even say it when the kids (now teenagers) don't.
posted by ceejaytee at 11:00 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


People didn't take shoes off in my house because feet are stinky. I mean, it was ok to walk around barefoot or sockfoot if you started out that way, but if you'd been to school or work and came home, if you wanted to take off your shoes, you went to your room to do so and probably then put on slippers or fresh socks (in my Dad's case, both!).

Having a very strong memory of what it did smell like when my brothers took their shoes off, I'm ok with this.

I also boggle at the idea of my grandparents taking their shoes off in company; they'd be too embarrassed to show their socks/stockings/feet!

Anyway, the other weird things my family did:

When we went to bed, we'd say "Bookara inchalla" which was some kind of corruption of an Arabic version of "good night" that my dad brought back from working over there. (I know "inshallah" is "God willing" but I have no idea what "bookara" was supposed to be.) Then my dad would say "Enchilada!" and laugh and we could go to bed.

Leftover dinner rice + butter and sugar=dessert!

My dad would tell us to "go play in traffic" when we were in the way, which sounds terrible, but as a small child I didn't really understand what that meant other than "go away," so I thought that was something every kid was told.
posted by emjaybee at 11:01 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Oh! My parents sing "Roll On, Columbia!" every time they drive across the Columbia River. If my sisters and I aren't with them, whichever one of them isn't driving will text it to us so that I we know it's happening.
posted by darchildre at 11:05 AM on September 14 [18 favorites]


I never understood the "clicker" thing because I have never seen or used a remote that actually clicked.

Butter on counter: Check (in a butter dish though, because cats)
White rice with butter and pepper: Check
White rice smothered in butter, cinnamon and sugar... just us?

Also we make up words. My current favorite is "binkled" (portmanteau of "bent and wrinkled" that my wife came up with somewhere around 10-15 years ago and has since become An Actual Word in our household) ... items can become binkled (as in "the laundry is all binkled because no one folded it") but most often it is anatomy that becomes binkled ("Stressed out at work, now my neck and shoulders are all binkled up")

You are all free to steal and make use of this word, in hopes that some day it will be in the OED
posted by caution live frogs at 11:05 AM on September 14 [13 favorites]


The puke bucket concept came from my wife's family and is always an old ice cream pail. When we were first living together the two of us had to eat an entire gallon of ice cream so we'd have one in the house.

When we were growing up my dad ran his own one-man business and had a line installed in our house so he or my mom could always answer the phone. Whenever the green phone rang every kid in our neighborhood knew to yell "Business Phone!" and then be quiet until the All Clear was sounded. (That sounds weird, but my buddy Mike's dad ran a bar so no one could make any noise at all anywhere near their yard until after lunch.)

As a compromise on the whole Santa/Lying quandary my parents would give us gifts with the From conspicuously blank. It wasn't necessarily from anyone specific, but it could have been Santa.

My parents continued to hide Easter eggs around the house until the youngest went off to college. As twenty-somethings we'd come over on Easter morning, wander around the house with a cup of coffee and yell to one another until we found them all. (And about every three years my brother would pocket one and we'd keep looking for the last unfound egg for quite a while until we came to our senses and pummeled him in search of it.)
posted by Cris E at 11:09 AM on September 14 [7 favorites]


If you put any topping on white rice other than shoyu and furikake, you're just plain wrong.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:10 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


We have one of those "butter bell" things that produces, when we use it, something we call "elf fluffed butter". It's one of those things where you put the butter into a bell shaped part of the lid, and the rest of the container is a bowl that fits over the bell and has a little bit of water in it. When you close the lid, the lip of the bell meets and slightly submerges into the water, giving you a seal, so the butter can hang out at room temperature, get fluffy, and stay well-enough-preserved for a few days.

We don't use it as often as we might like, I think. But when we do, the results are fabulous.
posted by kalessin at 11:11 AM on September 14 [5 favorites]


I think a lot of these family differences are really cultural or regional differences, like when I dated someone from Chicago whose reaction to avocado on a hot dog was remarkably similar to a Catholic bishop viewing Piss Christ.

When you grow up in avocado country, everything can and will be topped with avocado. Nothing strange about it.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:12 AM on September 14 [21 favorites]


whenever we go through a toll in the EZ Pass lane, we say "Go go gadget EZ Pass!"

Leeloo Dallas EZPass!
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:13 AM on September 14 [27 favorites]


Apparently you're only supposed to wash the bathtub once a week?

ahem...month?

Oh god, don't tell anyone I live like this.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 11:20 AM on September 14 [8 favorites]


I wash (as in scrub) the bathtub when it gets gross enough that I'd feel shame if someone saw it. That might be...a year? I only take showers so who knows. But I do wipe out hair from the drain/tub, and wipe around the edges/corners when I'm cleaning other bathroom surfaces, so I'm not a complete slob.

I have no idea how often my mom scrubbed the bathtubs.
posted by emjaybee at 11:26 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


My husband and I actually started a new tradition--whenever we go through a toll in the EZ Pass lane, we say "Go go gadget EZ Pass!"

We do Eddie Izzard's bit: "E-Zed Pass? E-ZED Pass? EEEE-zed Pass?"
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:27 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Cris E: (And about every three years my brother would pocket one and we'd keep looking for the last unfound egg for quite a while until we came to our senses and pummeled him in search of it.)

GOD DAMMIT JOHN WE HAVE TO GO TO MASS IN HALF AN HOUR

....Except for the year we all went to Easter Vigil Mass at the Cathedral and then, dressed up in Church Clothes, stopped at a White Castle in the middle of the night for a sack of sliders.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:30 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


We always yelled, "Bury 'em!" when driving past a graveyard. My Army buddies were mortified. Army buddies aren't easily mortified.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 11:30 AM on September 14


she taught me to put salt on watermelon.

We definitely have some odd things that we do with food, probably because of being foreign born. I didn't have grapefruit with sugar until I was an adult (gross!) because we always ate it sprinkled with salt. Also my mom makes egg salad with butter (which is always left out in a butter dish); it's less creamy and gloppy and so very fluffy and delish. This is most likely because mayo was not a thing when she was growing up.

In fact, salt is a preferred add on to a bunch of things. Black salt on pomegranate is the food of the gods.

And you haven't lived if you don't combine your white rice with plain yogurt.

Finally, shoes off always, because have you seen what you are walking on outside????
posted by nikitabot at 11:35 AM on September 14 [4 favorites]


"Boukra" means "tomorrow" in a lotta Arabic dialects, so "boukra, inshallah," means, like, "tomorrow, hopefully." It becomes a joke when you have to get anything done, because humans procrastinate and things go pear-shaped. "When's the bread order coming in?" "Boukra, inshallah." Could mean next week.
posted by lauranesson at 11:49 AM on September 14 [29 favorites]


I really don't understand the dishwasher as storage thing, though. Why not just get more cupboards?

If you're not using the dishwasher to wash dishes, then it can function as another cupboard by default. Why bother getting another cupboard when you already have one you're not using?
posted by treepour at 11:56 AM on September 14 [2 favorites]


My father always said "see-stew?" after explaining something. I thought it was made up until I learned some German.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 11:59 AM on September 14 [3 favorites]


He also called us kids "squirt" which is kinda gross when you finally get around to thinking about it.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 12:00 PM on September 14 [9 favorites]


A comforter is a type of blanket with stuffing like down inside.

That's so weird. In my house, my mom was called the "comforter" as she would hold us all wrapped up in a blanket and say nice words to us. To make us feel even better, we ate raw onions for dinner on peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Always the puke bucket there, always -- we called it the harpsicord (don't ask). The one time that we didn't have it, we had to shower after and were only allowed to use half of a towel.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:07 PM on September 14 [5 favorites]


We always yelled, "Bury 'em!" when driving past a graveyard. My Army buddies were mortified. Army buddies aren't easily mortified.

We always told the joke about people dying to get in.

we ate raw onions for dinner on peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Always the puke bucket there, always

The first time I read this, I thought you meant the puke bucket was there because of the sandwiches.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:12 PM on September 14 [17 favorites]


SpacemanStix, huh, that's kind of weirdly familiar -- did you all use the front door for storing pajamas, pots, and pans, too? And sing Finnish sea shanties in four-part harmony while you changed the sheets every morning, a different song for each day of the week?

[I am assuming you are joking here, apologies if I have this super wrong]
posted by brainwane at 12:12 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]


lauranesson, I knew someone here at Mefi would have that answer for me. It took 48 minutes! I love this place.
posted by emjaybee at 12:13 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


On long car trips, we used to play a game called "windmill", which basically just involved yelling "windmill!" whenever you spotted one and whoever saw the most on the trip won. Note: most of our long drives involved going through country areas. We thought this was a standard car game, like I Spy, until my sister was on a car trip with her boyfriend and my Dad. She would yell "windmill!" whenever they drove past one and her boyfriend was really confused. It was then that Dad admitted that he and Mum had just made it up to keep us occupied on car trips.
posted by Kris10_b at 12:14 PM on September 14


LPT: If you put a stick of refrigerated butter in the microwave for 11 or 12 seconds it is perfectly spreadable.
posted by Splunge at 12:16 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


also if you use a cheese plane on the cold butter you get nice thin slices on your sandwich
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 12:19 PM on September 14 [19 favorites]


cheese plane on the cold butter

underrated funk tune
posted by uncleozzy at 12:22 PM on September 14 [26 favorites]


I wear my shoes in my house, and it's not disgusting. Taking your shoes off is an artifact of the time when floors were much harder to keep clean and much more manual labor went in to cleaning them.

There is not enough cleaning in the world that could get rid of what soles of your shoes would drag in after walking around in downtown San Francisco.
posted by treepour at 12:32 PM on September 14 [17 favorites]


My parents use a prescription pill bottle as a salt shaker.
Last time my Chinese father-in-law was visiting, he wanted to use an empty Wet Ones canister as a drinking glass. It's not like we have a shortage of drinking glasses and tumblers, either.



A comforter is a type of blanket with stuffing like down inside.

Now do the duvet.
Do, do, do the duvet!
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:34 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Growing up, locking the front and back doors was something you did just before bed, perhaps owing to the fact that our nearest neighbor was at least a mile from our house. Over the years, after moving out, I always kept my apartment doors locked because that's what dorm life had taught me. But once my wife and I bought a house it seemed like it was time to return to not locking ourselves in the house while we're awake because that's silly. My wife definitely doesn't play by those rules, and it still confuses me when she asks me to lock up for her when she leaves for work in the morning, or if she leaves the house and locks me inside.
posted by emelenjr at 12:35 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


I am loving this thread. It's part "What do you mean that's weird?! That's totally normal!", part "Oh wow! My family weren't the only ones to do That Weird Thing", and part "I'd totally forgotten that my family did That Weird Thing! Ha ha ha!"

Solidarity:
  • Shoes on in the house because my Mom was always in-and-out of the house wearing her gardening shoes so floor dirt was an accepted fact.
  • Not having a shower, just a big ole claw-foot cast iron bathtub. In eighth grade we did a unit on statistics and had to poll each other on a variety of subjects and then chart the results. "How many showers did you take this month?" was one of the questions. My classmates were gobsmacked when I said zero.
  • Mom washing her hair in the kitchen sink (because of the lack of a shower). I never mastered this, so I would wash my hair in the tub and rinse by dumping a bucket of water over my head.
  • Weird things being kept in the fridge in innocuous looking re-purposed containers. Yes, that yogourt container has mealworms for the bat being nursed back to health, and that margarine container is full of live nightcrawler earthworms.
  • Leaving the house unlocked while you're home & awake, often with the doors wide open. Friends and neighbours wandering in whenever.
Things I forgot to mention in my earlier post:
  • The "back kitchen", "back bathroom" and multiple "back rooms". My parents bought an old house that had been converted to a duplex, started un-converting it, and then lost steam - and started becoming hoarders - when I was still quite young. So my house had a non-functioning kitchen, non-functioning bathroom, & three bedrooms that were only used for storage and which I was not allowed to enter on my own until I was almost in high school (because my parents were afraid I might knock one of the teetering piles over on myself).
  • Minimally heating the house in winter. We just piled on sweaters, fingerless gloves and sometimes toques indoors. If you're sitting still you're under a blanket. Hot water bottles in bed at night. I expect this had to do with the exorbitant cost of trying to use electric baseboard heaters to warm an 1860s house with just horsehair in the walls for insulation.
  • Growing up in the shadow of several maximum security prisons and consequently having a very relaxed attitude towards trespassing. Some of my earliest memories are of playing on Federal land in the shadow of big signs warning that trespassers may be strip-searched.
  • Hanging laundry on the clothesline even in winter when temperatures were well below zero. Everything freezes solid!
  • Bats in the house. Mostly they stayed in the walls (drowsy chirping bats sound like Home to me) but in the summer they sometimes found their way out into our living space. My parents kept a squash raquet on top of their bedroom wardrobe to catch them with. You'd open the window, stick the raquet out in the bat's flight path (sonar doesn't detect mesh well) and with the startled bat clinging to it you'd flick the raquet handle and launch the bat out through the window & watch it fly away.
  • My Dad doing kitchen-table autopsies on (some of) my pets. He was a former biology teacher. What, don't everyone's parents have a dissection kit?
There's something very comforting about finding out that A Thing You Do is weird but then finding someone else who also Does That Thing. A good friend of mine and I bonded over his Dad also doing autopsies for his pets and having a fridge at home full of margarine containers of grubs, snow fleas, mealworms, etc (his Dad was a Biochemistry professor & his Mom was a high school Science teacher).

Also, butter & fresh black pepper on sweet corn is just What Is Done.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 12:51 PM on September 14 [17 favorites]


Somewhere Jonathan Franzen is furiously taking notes.
posted by zardoz at 12:55 PM on September 14 [14 favorites]


⌘-F "poop knife"
posted by a halcyon day at 12:58 PM on September 14 [12 favorites]


....Except for the year we all went to Easter Vigil Mass at the Cathedral and then, dressed up in Church Clothes, stopped at a White Castle in the middle of the night for a sack of sliders.

My (adult) house has sometimes observed Holy Saturday with 24 hours of total fasting as a sort preparation for the feasting of Easter. Vigil then stopping at White Castle actually sounds perfect.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:59 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


My family always saved bacon grease in a small jar in the fridge to be used for cooking stuff that can do with a little bacon flavour, like fried eggs or sauerkraut or whatever. I still do this. The jar has never been emptied completely or cleaned out, new grease is just poured on top and kinda melts into the old grease. My current jar has been going since about 1998. My parent's jar probably dates from the early 80's.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:59 PM on September 14 [29 favorites]


We had a third row in our station wagon that faced the traffic behind our wagon. We called it the "Way back" Almost anything goes in the way back because neither mom nor dad could reach back and smack us to get us to stop.
posted by AugustWest at 1:11 PM on September 14 [10 favorites]


We always used the bathroom trash can (with the trash bag removed) as the puke bucket. I too am boggled at how many people used bowls, which seem too small and shallow to really do the job.

My dad liked to eat a slice of white bread with peanut butter alongside spaghetti. I still do this. I don't know why it's good.

We had a huge, unfinished basement and my mom strung up clothesline and dried clothes down there in the winter time. It was not heated. It was dry as hell (Minnesota winter), so the clothes dried quickly, but.... I can still picture pulling on the stiff, crunchy, cold jeans agghhhhhh.

My mom always boiled or microwaved hot dogs to cook them. OMG. My now-wife cooked hot dogs in a skillet, so they actually got charred and crispy like a hot dog should, and it had...never occurred to me you could cook them that way at home.
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:12 PM on September 14 [9 favorites]


I've also never been in a house that had a split-level basement like mine. So the house was a split-level, and then there was almost like a second split-level underground? The bottom basement was the "real basement", where the furnace lived. The upper basement was always intended to be converted to a third living floor with a den etc, but that never happened.

Instead, both basement levels were filled with fantastic amounts of junk. Our old furniture, garage sale items, crafting stuff... since we had way more "storage" space than most families have, we just kept cramming stuff down there like a Room of Requirement. There was a whole area where we'd throw empty shoe boxes, etc and if we needed a box we'd just go look in the Box Jungle. (My now-wife has somewhat cured me of this habit... turns out when you live in a 2 bedroom apt you can't save every box "in case you need a box".)

Every few years we'd take a stab at cleaning The Basements and make some progress, but it always crept back up. There was, at one point, a full bed complete with frame down in the "bottom basement", I don't even remember why/how it came to be, but anyway when there were tornado warnings we'd go down in the bottom and there was an actual goddamn bed to just chill on.
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:20 PM on September 14 [11 favorites]


Secret Sparrow, we had tennis rackets in our house which were used solely for killing bats: no one actually played tennis.

In our big ol' colonial, they would come down the stairs from the attic -- sometimes preceded by screeching teenage boy who'd been cruelly awoken -- and flutter around the upstairs hall. My mom would get a grocery bag and stand on the stairs, and then my dad would wind up with the racket and bounce the bat off the far stairwell wall, dropping it neatly into the waiting bag.

The racket went back in the closet, the bag went rolled up into the trash can downstairs, and we all went back to bed.

(That trash can was another wonder: It stood in a narrow closet between the kitchen and back hall that had half doors above and below (like Dutch doors). Trash day was once a week and no one ever wanted to empty the can and take the bag outside. So when the trash can filled to the top, Some People *ahem* would switch to using the top doors and drop their coffee grounds and eggshells onto the top of the heap. Then when a Small Person -- i.e., me -- would open the bottom door to reach the trash can, I'd get buried to the wrists in falling, slippery garbage. Still pisses me off....)
posted by wenestvedt at 1:21 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, since the basement was unfinished, we kept the door shut in cold months because it wasn't heated. We also had cats. As you might imagine, multiple times in my childhood you would either hear a cat yowling in the night who'd gotten stuck down there, or we'd say "....has anybody seen the cat lately? Go check the basement."
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:22 PM on September 14


- In one of the households I lived in as a kid, the kids had their hair washed in the kitchen sink, once a week. This was a separate activity from baths (not showers until I was about thirteen), and I don't really know why, except that maybe it was how things were done in the households that my aunts and uncles grew up in.

- Powdered/reconstituted skim milk, and we did get real milk at school so we knew the difference, but reconstituted milk was usually used for cereal anyway so NBD.

- Butter and margarine were refrigerated, but that may have been because we grew up in non-air-conditioned homes; I don't think that I lived anywhere with AC (including at college; I was in a non-AC dorm) until I was thirty.

- Plastic bread bags used as boot liners in winter, both to make them easier to slide into (especially as we outgrew boots) and also because we wore boots until they had holes in them.

- Dishes always dried as soon as they were washed. The dish drier was also a sort of quality control for the dishwasher, looking for missed spots.

- Bathwater used for multiple kids. This could be gross if you had a sibling who was not careful about wiping their ass.

- I have no idea what I puked into beside a toilet, but I do remember the mandatory flu meal of crackers and 7-Up being kind of a treat.

- The plastic gallon tubs that cheap ice cream came in had innumerable storage-related uses.

- Up until I was about thirteen, I almost never used the front door, even though none of the houses that I lived in had a formal parlor. This changed when I moved to the big city and a lot of my transportation involved either walking or public transportation; thus, the back door was used mostly for stuff directly involving the garage, either house/yard maintenance or car trips.

- Saltines with butter and sugar. Don't knock it if you haven't tried it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:23 PM on September 14 [2 favorites]


This thread is unexpectedly soothing; things I thought were odd when I moved out on my own are no longer horrible singular peculiarities of my old-world, Depression-era parents, who came from each end of economic and social scale and met in the middle in graduate school. Shoes off, dishwasher and ovens as storage units, and so much more. Your stories have given me ease that I didn’t know I lacked.

our thing? Mama didn’t comprehend sandwiches. tuna sandwich was bread with mayo, the lumps of poorly drained tuna soaking everything. i hated tuna tuesday; we had sandwich schedules for each day of the week. we hung everything, never used the dryer.
posted by lemon_icing at 1:25 PM on September 14 [8 favorites]


Okay, one more weird basement story: I forget why, but either the actual fixture or the wiring stopped working, at one point, for the lightbulb that was right by the basement entry. The next light was a good 20 feet away, and it was pitch dark and full of junk (and scary). Instead of fixing whatever the problem was with the first light.... we took a long piece of yarn, tied it to the light pull 20 feet away from the door, and ran it across the ceiling to the doorway so that you had a pull-cord for the light when you opened the door.

We did this FOR YEARS. Now I'm sitting here thinking about telling someone else, "yep, just open the basement door and pull on the janky yarn-cord."
posted by nakedmolerats at 1:31 PM on September 14 [7 favorites]


Growing up poor-ish in the 70's, my mom saved those old giant peanut butter jars for storage, and made yogurt and bean sprouts in them. She made us bring home our paper lunch bags to re-use. She mixed powdered milk in with normal milk. She sprinkled wheat germ on casseroles. She went though a cod-liver-oil phase until we kids protested too much. At the time I thought these were all weird, embarrassing things.

But when I met my wife years later, she said her mom did every single one of those things. We immediately bonded on our parallel scarred upbringing. We figured out that both of our moms were Prevention Magazine and Adele Davis readers, so there may have been a common source for this stuff.
posted by jetsetsc at 1:31 PM on September 14 [5 favorites]


I finally thought of something that didn't really involve deep childhood trauma. I grew up on a Superfund site surrounded by disused landfills (Jersey represent!) so it was just common knowledge that you do not eat the things that grow out of the ground because things that come from the ground are full of chemicals that will kill you dead. Gardening was always done in raised containers. (It never occurred to me why buying stuff from the farm stand a few miles down the road was fine, but whatever.)

When I first traveled to Oregon to meet my now-wife's family, we all went for a hike and they spent the time happily foraging wild blackberries and sorrel and making quite a meal for themselves. I was convinced they were all probably already suffering from heavy metal poisoning to be doing something so dangerous. Got quite a laugh out of all of them. It still bothers me a little to just pull stuff out of the ground and eat it, but I'm getting better.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:45 PM on September 14 [8 favorites]


Going to Dairy Queen in our pjs in the heat & humidity of an Indiana summer evening. Way before air conditioning.
Dad & kids eating ice cream with spoons out of the gallon of chocolate together.
Dressing up to go to the movies, ride on the plane, go to the dept store in the big city.
Dad squeezing your toes to wake you in the morning.
posted by Mesaverdian at 1:48 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


This American Life did something similar a few years ago. One story was about a woman and her father. Every time her family received a new phone book, he would act out the scene from "The Jerk". When in her twenties she finally saw the movie and learned that her father had been acting out a scene from that movie, she felt betrayed.

This young woman is my best friend IRL! :)
posted by functionequalsform at 1:52 PM on September 14 [29 favorites]


My mom always boiled or microwaved hot dogs to cook them. OMG. My now-wife cooked hot dogs in a skillet, so they actually got charred and crispy like a hot dog should

Every time I've bought American-style hot dogs (literally called that on the packaging if I'm remembering correctly) I've boiled or microwaved them. I just thought that was how you did it. It's part of what distinguishes them from sausages, to my mind. Don't people talk about hot-dog water?

Still, I'm happy to hear there's alternatives, as I imagine that might be much nicer.

In that vein, this thread is filled with so many interesting new ways to eat foods I thought I already knew. A lot of culinary adventuring awaits. Ta everyone.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 1:58 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


My mom was really suspicious of prepared, industrial food even though she was a country-club Republican, not a hippie, so we NEVER had storebought cookies at home and constantly begged for the glory of Oreos, which (I discovered at a friend's birthday party some time in elementary school) are actually gross compared to home-made chocolate-chip cookies. I never had white bread until some time when I was in high school, and I was definitely the only kid at elementary school in the 80s with whole-wheat bread sandwiches! She home-made our cereal (a granola). I was not allowed to eat school lunch.

We also didn't have hot dogs at home (same reason, prepared foods), but were allowed to have them at parties and events and sports games and things, BUT since I lived in a very Jewish suburb of Chicago, all the hotdogs I'd ever had were all-beef franks (between the kosherness and the Chicagoness). When I went to college and grabbed a hotdog at a cookout and it was a pork hotdog I almost spat it out, it was fuckin' horrifying. I still can't understand why people eat pork hotdogs when all-beef franks are available!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:00 PM on September 14 [7 favorites]


Apparently I'm full of basement stories, but this was my friend's basement. Her mom was notorious for Tom-Sawyering us into doing chores, which I never minded helping with because her family was cool and fed me and took me on lots of adventures as a teenager. Anyway, so one day I go over to hang out and turns out my friend's mom has decided great, you can help Friend and Brother repaint the basement stairs! They just went to buy the paint!

We get all the supplies together and then her mom left to go to work. Her lovely teenagers get out the paint. It's PURPLE. Friend says "she never TOLD us to get the same color that's on now."

My mom would have thrown an absolute fit if she had come home to purple stairs. Their mom was like "...... well, I never told them to get the same color." They still have purple stairs.
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:02 PM on September 14 [33 favorites]


For about five years, we lived in a house that had a huge basement apartment that we didn't rent out. Instead, we'd move down there in the cold winter months because we heated with wood and it was a lot easier and cheaper to heat the underground floor. If we had to go back up in the cold upstairs for anything, it was kind of like those scenes in Doctor Zhivago where they stay in the frozen-over, abandoned country house. During the rest of the year, Mom used the basement kitchen for canning, preserving, and bulk baking. There was a long, 8 foot wide hallway with a linoleum tile floor, and my sister and I would roller-skate down there for hours. Our Halloween parties were legendary, because Mom and her best girl friend (who introduced me to Gothic novels and Dark Shadows) would turn the basement into an epic haunted house.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:02 PM on September 14 [17 favorites]


I didn't realize you could actually use the dresser drawers in hotels until I was in my 30s.

Me too, same reason!
posted by the_blizz at 2:06 PM on September 14


My parents name vehicles. The VW Jetta was Frieda the Fraulein, the Subaru is Scooby, and the trucks were always just Trucky.

All special events (including children) were planned to avoid conflicting with the seasons for hunting, skiing, calving, and wildfires. For this reason my sister and I have birthdays in the same week, as these seasons cover the majority of the year.

When my sister and I were old enough to be left home alone for a short while, my mom would make us a big list of chores to do and then leave to run errands or visit the neighbor or whatever. We would race through the chores with great efficiency and then spend the rest of the time watching whatever was on TV with great excitement. (TV before dark was forbidden and TV in general was scandalous, even free broadcast TV, which was all we had. My mom would howl if she came home and found us watching Friends. "Awoo, those people are so immoral!")

I had the following categories of clothing: church clothes (dresses), school clothes (new jeans and t-shirts), chore clothes (ratty jeans and t-shirts, and old crusty cowboy boots), and fair/show clothes (carefully tended Wranglers, Western shirts, and newish cowboy boots). Absolutely no shoes in the house.

Pizza was always made with hamburger (or elk burger or venison burger). My mind was blown the first time I had pepperoni pizza at a friend's house.

On the burger topic, my mom would remind us of the name of the cow we were likely eating. They all had names, even the ones destined for eating from the beginning.

The mudroom housed a whole rainbow of insulated coveralls in varying levels of shabbiness and disintegration, with the newest sets worn only for cattle sales or in the cleanest of snow. Also there was always a set of coveralls with the right sleeve removed, to be used when artificially inseminating cows. Still is, in fact.

Christmas trees were procured by buying a tree hunting tag, then driving up up up snowy forest service roads to harvest trees my parents or their friends had spotted during work. Wreaths were constructed from pine boughs harvested in the same manner (though no hunting tag was necessary).

I grew up in the country on a little ranch, and knew mostly home-schooled and farm kids until I was a teenager, so...yeah. It was actually an idyllic and sweet upbringing, if a bit sheltered!
posted by esoterrica at 2:15 PM on September 14 [16 favorites]


We always wore shoes in the house unless you were putting your feet up. I still do.

So does pretty much everyone I know. I certainly wouldn't be barefoot for guests. You really sit around with guests in your bare or sock feet? I mean, really? What about when you have cocktail parties with people in nice clothes? Do you still expect everyone to leave their shoes by the door? What the hell?
As children, we rarely if ever went in each others houses.
WHAT.
how a lot of pet owners, when the time comes, let their pets be euthanized without them.
Dad was a vet. This wasn't the NORM, but it wasn't uncommon, either, for the grieving owner to be emotionally unable to stay for the actual event. They'd often come back, after.
You know what I find the weirdest thing? That so many people eat that dust from a shaker that is called cheese. Please buy a chunk of real Parmigiano and a grater. You will never eat the dust again.
This is probably generational now. In the 70s, the crappy stuff in the green canister was all you could get in lots of places; getting real parm wasn't an option.

There was a window, after the postwar boom, where convenience trumped quality for food in almost every strata of American life. Canned food! Canned cheese!

Thankfully, that seems to be over now.
"Boukra, inshallah."
A Texan friend who did some work in the Green Zone post-invasion that involved working with locals referred to inshallah as "like manana, but without the sense of urgency."
bacon grease in a small jar
I'm pretty sure this is very common. It's an easy kitchen hack.
They still have purple stairs.
I love this. It's a short story, but it's full of good parenting.
posted by uberchet at 2:19 PM on September 14 [10 favorites]


We didn't have a dedicated puke bowl, but we definitely used one.

Wait, no, we most certainly did have a dedicated puke receptacle: one of those gallon-sized plastic ice cream buckets mentioned in this thread! God, I'd forgotten all about those!
posted by anderjen at 2:20 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


The comments on this post are most enjoyable despite failing to capture the utter weirdness that was my early childhood. There's a reason I can reasonably be referred to as "poorly socialized," similar to how one might describe a mostly-feral cat.

Men, especially back then, were not well suited to doing 95% of the parenting. Combine that with basically all of my friends also having some level of abnormally dysfunctional home life and holy shit I had no idea what normal was despite my maternal grandparents being about as normal as people could be.
posted by wierdo at 2:31 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


We had a specific pair of boots to wear for shoveling snow, and a specific grungy pair of sneakers for mowing the lawn. Perhaps weirder is that since my mom and I were the same shoe size, we just shared these instead of having our own.

When we got new toothbrushes, we always saved the old ones to use for tiny cleaning jobs. Just tossed them under the sink. I assumed this was just practical, but maybe not common? I just scrubbed out my dishwasher filter with one the other day!
posted by nakedmolerats at 2:40 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


"You really sit around with guests in your bare or sock feet? I mean, really? What about when you have cocktail parties with people in nice clothes? Do you still expect everyone to leave their shoes by the door? What the hell?"

Of course! I often get pedicures but I totally entertain in bare feet all the time! Two of my kids have developmental therapists who come to the house to provide their therapies, and they all just take their shoes off automatically -- we didn't ask. (Because we wouldn't ask, because they're coming here to work, not hang out, but they all did anyway.)

Now, if I throw a party, I don't expect people to take their shoes off (and I do expect to clean the floors the next day). But a lot of people do anyway! Most houses in my area have a shoe-dumping area near the front door where it's easy to step out of your shoes and leave them out of the way. Not, like, an architecturally official one, but one that's developed out of regional habit of shedding shoes.

When MetaFilter's gone around on this before, in the US and Canada it's often related to weather and muddiness; in places where it's often wet, muddy, or snowy, people are accustomed to taking shoes off before coming in the house, because shoes are often actively muddy and wet. However! One of my children had an elevated lead level when tested as a baby, and the pediatrician told us the #1 thing we could do to reduce that (since we didn't have lead paint or blinds) was never allow shoes in the house. We were already barefoot-at-home people, but we got super-diligent about taking our shoes off at the door and never crossing the living room before removing them, and we apologetically asked all our guests to remove their shoes, and when he was retested several months later, when lead levels from general environmental exposure typically remain the same or increase (as a crawler gets his hands grosser and puts his hands in his mouth more), the lead had fallen to undetectable levels and none of my other children ever tested with elevated lead. Shoes track in enough lead pollution to literally poison children, so I 100% never give ANYONE a hard time for even the most ridiculous shoes-in-the-house restrictions anymore, it is legit dangerous to track outside pollution indoors! (Frequent vacuuming and mopping also helps clean up lead dust tracked in on shoes, so after we have a party we always vacuum and wet-swiffer like crazy before the kids wake up the next morning! Or if it's a really big once-a-year party I'll schedule Stanley Steemer for the next day since it needs to be done anyway.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:44 PM on September 14 [39 favorites]


nakedmolerats my family also kept old toothbrushes to use for cleaning. Now I use a battery-powered toothbrush, but I still always accept the free manual toothbrush my dentist offers me so that I can use them for scrubbing non-teeth things.
posted by Secret Sparrow at 2:47 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


"So does pretty much everyone I know. I certainly wouldn't be barefoot for guests. You really sit around with guests in your bare or sock feet? I mean, really? What about when you have cocktail parties with people in nice clothes? Do you still expect everyone to leave their shoes by the door? What the hell?"

I don't know anyone who wears shoes in the house, and many people i know request that you take your shoes off, even at parties (especially at parties!). Yes, I sit around with guests in socks, or in summer, bare feet.
posted by jonathanhughes at 2:50 PM on September 14 [5 favorites]


Do you still expect everyone to leave their shoes by the door?

My mom's side of the family was Japanese-Okinawan, so yeah, kinda.
posted by tobascodagama at 2:57 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Our puke bowl was a stainless steel mixing bowl (Revere ware, maybe?) with a ring on the side that would clang when the bowl got used.

When I was 5-ish, some of the siblings and I would get up on Saturday mornings to watch cartoons on the black-and-white TV. We'd sip on the sweet dregs mom and dad's evening coffee they'd leave in the den. They always put two spoons of sugar in each cup: sweet, bitter, and extra good because there was no guarantee it would be there.

For what was likely a brief stretch, Tuesday nights were steak* nights, and Dad would bring the black-and-white into the dining room (!!!) and we'd watch Combat while we ate.

* "Are you going to eat your fat?" I realized it was weird only when Spalding asked that question in Caddyshack.

With increasing frequency as we got older we'd eat family supper off tray tables in the den while watching TV.

Watching TV when it wasn't dinner, if someone had left for a bathroom break or a snack or whatever, if there were coming attractions, ("Next week on...") we'd yell "Scenes!!" and whomever would run back to not miss it.

Watching space program coverage at all hours with Jules Begman and his scale models.

Road trips: five kids and a standard poodle in the back of a Chevy Nova station wagon. Fast food never. Road food was carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, hard boiled eggs, ham sandwiches, and for a special treat: Spam sandwiches with *margarine* on white bread.

We had a partially finished basement that started as a play space with a ping pong table, dad's workbench, and craft space for my mom. It ended up as the place where all the junk went, but it would also flood in heavy rain, so we knew what mildew smelled like. It's amazing we don't all have asthma or worse.

Mom would put sugar on tomatoes. Even good Jersey tomatoes.

On holidays, mom and dad would have cocktails: whiskey sours, bloody marys, and we'd get the mixes without the booze in small fancy glasses. We'd also get candy cigarettes sometimes and feel extra swanky grown up.

Mom's parents were Parisian, and dad grew up in a social-climbing family in NYC. Sometimes on these fancy occasions we'd have escargot and oysters. This was land-locked suburban Atlanta in the late 60s and early 70s. Once when some friends were over at the start of such a dinner they tried some. After they got home my mom got a disbelieving phone call: "What are you feeding my children?"
posted by conscious matter at 2:57 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


My dad and his parents were old stock farm folk so they had some Habits.

You always had to Get Cleaned Up before you Went To Town. It didn’t matter what you were doing or how dirty you were. A trip to Town (basically leaving the house to go anywhere) required the full hygiene routine and putting on Good Clothes. This might not be Sunday Best but were Definitely higher-tier clothing items. This could lead to hilarity like when my dad would be working on a project, forget something, then have to shower and get changed just to drive to Wal*Mart or the auto parts store, come back, change back into Grubby Clothes (another tier), start again, then realize he needed something else and have to shower and change again.

Likewise feet never went on furniture ever. Ever! Laying down on the couch was right out! Even if you had something like a recliner with a dedicated footrest they’d lose their minds if you had your feet up or were sitting in anything other than schoolmarm prim posture. This got hilarious when they got older and would fall asleep watching TV or something and put their feet up then it was OH HO HOOOO FEET ON THE FURNITURE?! SLEEPING IN A CHAIR?! When I caught them.

In my ex-wife’s family you woke up, showered, got dressed for the day including shoes, then didn’t take your shoes off or change unless you got really dirty all the way until bedtime. She acted like I was a savage for walking around barefoot.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:00 PM on September 14 [7 favorites]


@Lentrohamsanin: The other kind of spatula was only ever called a "pancake turner over" in our house.

"Egg turner" in our house.

Speaking of which, eggs only existed in one variant in my mother's kitchen: over easy [*]. This left me totally baffled the first time I was asked "How do you like your eggs?" Not only was I unaware of the available options, I didn't even have a name for the one type I knew.

[*] Strictly speaking, she did also make hard-boiled eggs, but I've had a strong aversion to those since forever.
posted by HillbillyInBC at 3:01 PM on September 14 [5 favorites]


Heh! I did not, admittedly, read the whole thread, but I think I may be in the top ten for wierd family traditions. In rare moments of family gaiety we'd devide into two teams and have a relay race down the hall to the hall bathroom where we'd slap the toilet lid and race back. There was no specified end or time limit, you just kept going unti people fell out laughing. My friends thought it was nuts, but also fun.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:08 PM on September 14 [6 favorites]


Oh and in my ex-wife’s family every animal that wasn’t a house at was a Wild Animal and they were dirty and disgusting and gross and dangerous. The first time we encountered a dog and I did the “let sniff hand, ok? We are friends now” thing she acted like I was approaching a rabid bear and was horrified I didn’t go wash my hands right away. Likewise we went to a petting zoo once and when she came in the little corral with the animals, the baby goats came over to greet her and she screamed and ran away like they were a pack of wolves. They followed of course because they thought she was playing a fun game. (I had to laugh because baby goats are like the least menacing thing in the world). Weird family. And it wasn’t a thing like she’d been bitten by a dog or something and was scared, they were just disgusting Wild Animals.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 3:10 PM on September 14 [8 favorites]


Other things your comments are jogging memories of:

Old bread bags inside winter boots and shoes
Trousers under skirts on winter days at parochial school
Lose a mitten? Here's an old mismate sock for that hand.
Sleeping on mattresses in front of the fireplace in the coldest nights
Sleeping in three layers of old socks in the winter
Paper dolls made from old pattern catalogs and wallpaper books
Hamburger soup
Garbage soup
American goulash/Slop gullion
Soup frozen in ice cube trays to cool down too-hot soup
Buying the "ends and pieces" of cold cuts and cheese at the grocery deli
The bread outlet store
Having one big Halloween party instead of one birthday in September and another in November
Mom gluing her own hair onto bald Barbie dolls
Dad making prank phone calls to us from work when he was on the night shift
Having to hide our toys when cousins came over, because it would be our fault if someone else broke them
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:11 PM on September 14 [8 favorites]


[Shoe-house tradition style is] often related to weather and muddiness; in places where it's often wet, muddy, or snowy, people are accustomed to taking shoes off before coming in the house
Yeah, I think that's exactly it. I've never lived in a place like that.

But I also can't imagine doing it, period, especially if I were dressed for a party. I think bare feet are more socially acceptable for women than men, so maybe that's part of it? Like, we've had black tie parties. I can't imagine asking everyone to be dressed to the nines and then barefoot. Weird.

Reading this thread, I don't think we actually did anything that's actually weird. I didn't ever have the "wait, everyone doesn't do that?" experience many describe here.

Maybe that's weird in and of itself.

(I mean, certainly I was raised with regional norms that are far afield of what people from very different parts of the country would think of as normal but that's not really what we're talking about.)
posted by uberchet at 3:25 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


My parents name vehicles.

My Mercury Cougar was named Freddy. AFAIK, he didn't kill anyone.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:27 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


But I also can't imagine doing it, period, especially if I were dressed for a party. I think bare feet are more socially acceptable for women than men, so maybe that's part of it? Like, we've had black tie parties. I can't imagine asking everyone to be dressed to the nines and then barefoot. Weird.


I think even in Japan they let you keep your sock on, not sure what the obsession is with bare feet here. Bare feet and stockings are rather quite difference.
posted by some loser at 3:35 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


"So does pretty much everyone I know. I certainly wouldn't be barefoot for guests. You really sit around with guests in your bare or sock feet? I mean, really? What about when you have cocktail parties with people in nice clothes? Do you still expect everyone to leave their shoes by the door? What the hell?"

In my own house, I wear slippers.
I would never dream of asking a guest to take off their shoes (unless it's kids. Kids take off their shoes).

If a guest says "Shoes?", I reply "On or off, it's up to you".
"Off" is probably slightly preferred by visitors, but I've noticed that acquaintances (work friends, etc) leave them on, while neighbors/parents will take them off.
Time of day does not seem to matter.

And yes, we have a rack by the door if you would like to take off your shoes.
posted by madajb at 3:48 PM on September 14


I adore this thread! A couple Oh-so-not-everyone-does-this? quirks of my family:

My mom would toss all of our clean laundry in a giant mound on her side of the bed, a mass we called The Pile. I figured every family had their own Pile, which they had to dig through to find matching socks or their shirt or what have you, before getting dressed or putting their clothes away.

Also, my parents cleaned the toilet with their bare hands and a rag, as toilet brushes were considered "unsanitary." It wasn't until I went to college and a roommate pointed out that washing the toilet with a rag and bare skin wasn't exactly awesome that the light went off and I bought A) a pair of gloves for caustic, cleanser-related tasks, and B) a toilet brush. Sweet joy!
posted by but no cigar at 3:58 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


The laundry reminds me that I do not know why, but often we didn't have enough laundry baskets to go around or something, so again the joys of a split level: the laundry in the upstairs bathroom would get gleefully tossed down the stairs, and collected at the bottom.

I am guessing for most people who grew up in split-levels, "throwing things up/down stairs" was the primary form of transit. Mom used to holler when she was rounding up shoes downstairs, then you would hear THUNK THUNK THUNK THUNK, and then the kids had to go retrieve their shoes from the upper hall.
posted by nakedmolerats at 4:10 PM on September 14 [5 favorites]


The whole front door/side door thing is definitely highly variable and probably contains a sociology Master's thesis or two on how architecture, land use, weather, social class, economic class (or aspirations to social/economic class - my understanding is that keeping a certain room of the house unused except for Adult Gatherings and Special Occasions was/is essentially middle or lower-class people aspirationally mimicking the upper classes (who genuinely had room in their houses to set aside rooms)) and local cultures all sort of mix together to produce a whole set of (mostly-unspoken) Rules about which door it's appropriate to use when.

Fer example: I grew up in suburban Connecticut and suburban South Florida - in both places yards were large enough (and often fenced/hedged in) so that really the only door accessible to non-family members was the front door. If you wanted to use a side or back door that meant you were traipsing around somebody's yard, which was very much Not Done - the polite thing to do, obviously, was to first let people know you were there by ringing the front doorbell. Whoever answered the door might send you around back without going through the house, but you knew you had their permission. The family might enter/exit though the garage or a back door, at least sometimes, but if you weren't being escorted by a family member it was the front door for everybody.

Then I moved up to Cleveland, Ohio, where lots and yards tend to be smaller, garages tend to be detached, and an extremely common feature - regardless of the architectural style of the rest of the house - is that on the side of the house where the driveway is is the side door, that opens onto a small landing. One side of the landing has steps down to the basement, the other has a short flight of steps up to the kitchen. And the landing/steps up to the kitchen/first few feet of the kitchen or basement becomes a defacto "mud room", where wet and/or snowy and/or muddy shoes get left or cleaned off (depending on the family preferences.)

So it wasn't until I was like 20 that I first encountered the whole idea that the side door is for family/friends/casual visits, and the front door is for strangers and Special Occasions. This was and is a common thing even if the homeowners actually actively use the room the front door opens onto (so it's not entirely about keeping a Special Room as pristine as possible.)

I was more than a little confused by the whole side door thing the first few times I encountered it, because I would go over to somebody's house and go to the front door and ring or knock (as you do) and then hang around on the front porch for-frigging-ever because lots of people had front doorbells that didn't work or just didn't register that the ringing/knocking was coming from the front door - I was a friend, they were expecting me, it wasn't a special occasion, why on earth wasn't I coming around to the side door like a normal person? Eventually somebody would stick their head around the side of the house and go, "Good grief, you're here, c'mon around to the side!"

And yes, at least a few times this front door/side door thing has led to the (frankly, totally absurd) situation where, say, on Thanksgiving, a whole group of people who would ordinarily come in the side door all find themselves trudging up the steps to the front door, because Special.

I will say that folks from my generation (X) and younger seem to be more variable in their adherence to the front/side door Rules; some still live by the rules, some just mostly use the front door, some don't care which door you use. And with the folks who have moved out to the further suburbs - where lots and yards are larger - it's the front door for everyone.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:28 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


Also going to University and finding out that my biggest conversational comeback was totally a Hamilton (Ontario) regional thing and no one had any idea what I was talking about was a shock. For the curious we used to use "Nice head" to basically mean "You don't know what you are talking about" or basically BS. This was not... well received :)

Can confirm that "nice head" did not translate well from Hamilton to Waterloo when I went to university in 1990. (see also "nice lid")
posted by hearthpig at 4:53 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


In my house growing up hot dogs were only ever boiled in a half inch of water in a red enamel pan; I was completely weirded out when I learned people just dry fry weiners?

Fish sticks were only ever baked in an old round pizza pan that was never used for anything else. "where's the fish stick pan"?

Sloppy-joe-ish food (ground beef with savory seasonings) in my house was called "mung". no earthly idea why. We had a "mung pan" which was a large black and white enamel pan which was only used to fry up mung. If my mom made it, it was mostly curry based. If my dad made it, it was mostly tomato based. But still "mung". So when I went to a friend's house and was served sloppy joes I'd go "hey, mung" and get a lot of weird looks.

I was an only child and in my famly room we each had a dedicated chair. This always baffled the heck out of my friends that had larger families.
posted by hearthpig at 4:59 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


My parents name vehicles.

My Mercury Cougar was named Freddy. AFAIK, he didn't kill anyone.


My two cars were Ladybug and the Green Hornet.

I had a friend whose car was named Tink, because when the door was open it made a noise like, "tink... tink... tink..."
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:13 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


I think even in Japan they let you keep your sock on, not sure what the obsession is with bare feet here.

This even extends to having dedicated bathroom slippers that you would wear to keep your socks clean. My family never did that, but I did see it at izakayas in Japan.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:14 PM on September 14 [3 favorites]


I forgot about Sick Asshole Dining!

Whenever we got fast food, we usually went to the drive-thru window, then parked in the farthest part of the lot and ate in the car. Same deal with premade food from the grocery store. Or sometimes we'd go in the grocery store and get a loaf of bread, a package of bologna, and a jar of mustard, and make sandwiches in the car.

One day at McDonald's, another car pulled up near us, and we could see that they were eating in the car, too. Dad said, "Well, it's good to know we're not the only sick assholes who eat our burgers in the parking lot."

My sister and I still call eating in a parked car Sick Asshole Dining (S.A. for short). Any meal meant to be eaten in the car is Sick Asshole Food.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:25 PM on September 14 [25 favorites]


The Underpants Monster, you had a…colorful upbringing.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:35 PM on September 14 [5 favorites]


Another yellow-puke-bowl datapoint, here; Maine, late '70s. It was probably that Rubbermaid someone posted. Meanwhile, Tupperware-like containers were called "roadies," with the explanation that they were what you could put food in to take it on the road.

I'm female and grew up with two sisters, and it has been only recently that it was made clear to me that my sibs and me being called "guys" within the family was weird. My stepmom recalls being really startled when she realized her new beau didn't have sons, he had daughters. We also grew up to work in tech and be good at operating power tools and other heavy machinery... and I've learned some things about my dad which really made me wonder how much crypto-misogyny was behind calling us "guys," rather than the aim for gender equality I thought it came from.
posted by gusandrews at 5:58 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


My sibling and I had a deep and unreasonable loathing of the ends of bread, which we referred to as the butts. They were left to the end, and the last person stuck with both was "abandoned to the butts". Whoever had to suffer so was rewarded by getting the special giraffe cup for the meal, a rewashed jam jar.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 5:59 PM on September 14 [9 favorites]


My mother greeted appliances. Still does. When the old fridge's motor kicked in, she'd say, "Hello." She feels it necessary to verbally acknowledge atmospheric changes around her. If I walked in and found she was cooking in the semi-darkness because she hadn't noticed the sun going down, and I turned on the light, she'd say "Hello." To the light bulb, not to me. "Check engine" light went on in her Honda? "Hello." It's started to rain? "Hello."

She's very much NOT a crouton-petter, in fact she is a bit empathy-challenged. It's just pro forma for her. I've inherited this quirk.

Also, for her, anything at ALL is an occasion for a song. I DIDN'T inherit this, but weirdly enough my partner did after spending time with my mother, and now we sing familiar tunes with occasion-specific lyrics pretty much daily.
posted by goofyfoot at 6:09 PM on September 14 [15 favorites]


I'm female and grew up with two sisters, and it has been only recently that it was made clear to me that my sibs and me being called "guys" within the family was weird. My stepmom recalls being really startled when she realized her new beau didn't have sons, he had daughters. We also grew up to work in tech and be good at operating power tools and other heavy machinery... and I've learned some things about my dad which really made me wonder how much crypto-misogyny was behind calling us "guys," rather than the aim for gender equality I thought it came from.

Yeah, with my Dad it was open misogyny. He never wasted an opportunity to complain about not having sons. (The big brother he idolized had four strapping, football-hero sons.) He went beyond "guys" and referred to my sister and me as "the boys." When I got big enough to resist having my hair cut short, he started his regular lectures about how dirty and disgusting my long hair looked. He hated that I wasn't good with tools and aci/tech stuff like my sister. Bose of our names were thought up at the last minute because he refused to consider the possibility that he wasn't going to have a Junior (routine prenatal ultrasounds were still a few years off).
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:09 PM on September 14 [8 favorites]


This thread has been 89% enlightening, 2% brilliant (I was also intrigued by the family song to close the meeting) and 9% “WTH, who does that?!?”

My only disappointment is that for all the discussion of a receptacle for vomitus, no one has written the correct name yet: it is the plastic wastebin from the bathroom, emptied and placed at the bedside and it is the throw-up bucket. Now we can move on.

Cat food is properly stored on top of the fridge, but only because the cat will tear it open anywhere reachable, and isn't a jumper.

In this house, when we had a cat, the cat treats were kept in a plastic package atop the fridge. I noticed at some point that the top of the fridge also had strikingly similar containers of both gummi bears and croutons. It pays to keep your wits about you in this house when making a salad, is I guess what I am trying to say.

And the idea of naming cars is something this family does as well. The main vehicle is a Ford Escape. My wife thinks it is great, so it has been dubbed Steve.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:31 PM on September 14 [8 favorites]


In her family everyone slept on fresh sheets every night.

I did this for a while

To be fair, I had crippling OCD and spent hours a day cleaning and re-cleaning things
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:50 PM on September 14 [4 favorites]


In my house, Kraft Parmesan Cheese was called... parmesan cheese. In my wife’s house it was called “stinky cheese,” because it is, when applied to spaghetti. In our combined house it is called stinky cheese (and I was an adult before I realized Parmesan cheese was any other way).

We always came and went by the front door. When I started going out with my wife, we went in by the back door, because when she moved out her bedroom (at the back of the house) was a turned into a family room and everyone was always back there anyway.

When I was growing up, every dinner was at the dining room table, everyone in the same seat. We did this with our kids as well until the oldest was in high school. We still usually all ate together, but in front of the TV.

Growing up I took a shower weekly. My first college girlfriend convinced me to do so daily (she also told me I had a nice butt, so naturally I did whatever she said). Nowadays I shower 3x a week, but wash my hair in the kitchen sink the other days (we recently moved to a place with a spray hose in the sink...paradise!).

My dad washed the bedsheets weekly. I wash them probably every three weeks.

We didn’t have a washer and dryer growing up, so dad went to the laundromat every week (we owned one for a time when I was in elementary and junior high). So the laundry came back neatly folded every week. We have our own washer and dryer, but don’t often fold clothes.

I grew up putting salt on watermelon. Butter and salt on corn on the cob, but as an adult I either add black pepper or use it instead of salt. Yum! Honey is good on peanut butter sandwiches, but only if you eat it right away (the honey soaks into the bread otherwise). But even better is either peanut butter and bacon on toast, or peanut butter and dill pickles, which my mother taught me about.

And butter stays in a covered butter dish on the counter.
posted by lhauser at 9:09 PM on September 14


lemon_icing, how I feel you! Did your depression era family wash and fold sheets of tinfoil too? My mother-in-law still has drawers full. If the economy crashes and vintage tinfoil sheets become currency, my husband and I will live like royalty!! We'll be nice about it, except for a few grudges.
posted by biddeford at 9:43 PM on September 14 [7 favorites]


Here in Pennsylvania I've heard the midday meal called dinner, mostly from rural working class folks.

Yep and we called the evening meal Supper.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 11:13 PM on September 14 [6 favorites]


Growing up we had a standup freezer that for most of my childhood was used as storage for jewelry and things my Dad bought at flea markets. Never turned on, just used the shelves for storage. Until the one summer my uncle butchered a steer and we got a lot of beef, and boom the freezer got used.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 11:15 PM on September 14 [1 favorite]


> she cuts the top off empty 1L milk bags, washes them & reuses them as freezer bags

Wait, milk bag? I've seen milk cartons and milk jugs, but never milk bags. It is like a capri-sun pouch, or what? How do you keep milk from spilling everywhere when you use it? How do you close it?
posted by Westringia F. at 3:47 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]


My parents were duvet-cover-no-top-sheet people, and our family immigrated to the US before duvet covers were easily available here. My mother would buy two top sheets and sew them together on three sides. The first time I slept over at a friend house, I thought the uncovered comforter was gross and weird, like sleeping on a pillow without a pillowcase.

I still have some of those duvet covers, and love them more than any of the "real" duvet covers I own. After I left home, my mother grew tired of the hassle of sewing them (yes, you could buy them now, but they were more expensive than two top sheets and why would you waste so much money when making it is so easy) and stuffing the duvet into them (she has RA, which does not make it easier), so my parents' house adopted the top-sheet-plus-blanket configuration. I still can't sleep any other way, though. I feel entangled whenever we stay there.
posted by Westringia F. at 4:05 AM on September 15 [5 favorites]


We often ate fruit as a first dinner course. Is that a thing? Grapefruit halves (no sugar) in the winter, cantaloupe slices in the summer. And, side note, we used regular teaspoons to eat the grapefruit. I didn't hear of sugar on grapefruit or grapefruit spoons until much later, and I frankly don't see the advantage of either.
posted by the_blizz at 4:09 AM on September 15 [2 favorites]


Wait, milk bag? I've seen milk cartons and milk jugs, but never milk bags.

In parts of Canada and the UK, milk comes in bags. You apparently chuck the whole thing in a pitcher, cut off one corner so you can pour it and have the whole setup like that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:15 AM on September 15 [4 favorites]


The way it was when I grew up, and I still practice is: part of the house has brick flooring, and there you wear shoes (this is where you go in and out all the time, and the dog goes in and out). This means for a lot of purposes, it's really much easier to use the back door: there is like a whole suite of rooms, including the kitchen, where you can keep on your shoes, so if you are the neighbor and passing by, you go in the backdoor, enter the kitchen and get your coffee. Also, the backdoor is before the front door, so it's kind of weird when you know I'm there to go past the kitchen windows and on to the front door. The rest of the house has painted wooden floors, and there you take your shoes off if you are family or a frequent guest or a not fancy guest like a tradesman. If you are fancy or it is Christmas or a funeral, you can keep your shoes on on the wooden floors. When I tell a new guest, oh you can keep on your shoes (I'm was planning on washing the floors anyway), it's a subtle way of acknowledging they are special guests.
The bedrooms all open onto the brick floor, so when we were kids we had wooden clogs to transport us across the bricks into the dining room, and for all other short errands. Now I buy cheap Chinese slippers.
We always had to bathe and change for dinner. Mainly because we were really dirty. We also had to change to go into town. Same thing. When I lived in England and had a school uniform, I had to change into normal clothes after school. One reason was that our uniform was almost never cleaned - gross.
At dinner, we had designated seats and couldn't leave before everyone had eaten. We were supposed to participate in the conversation, not to put elbows on the table, and to use a knife and fork. The kids cleaned the table and prepared dessert. I should reintroduce that last rule...
Every single meal is a family meal, and there were no exceptions, though one was allowed to read the paper for breakfast. I've introduced some exceptions -- for some years we had pizza in front of the TV Friday nights, and when I get home after 7PM, we have anti-social dinner where there is food, but one can eat in bed watching TV if that is a thing.

In our city apartment, this is all more complicated. My upstairs neighbor still uses the back door for most purposes, even though it's not practical at all. Most people in our building take off their shoes in the hallway inside the apartment, but most visitors keep their shoes on, I think because one has more formal guests in the city and less informal ones. Our house is kind of posh, so you can't leave shoes out on the stairs, but in many other buildings they do. When the kids were small, all the kids and their parents took off their shoes. Our floor is really old and badly maintained, and I spent a lot of time taking splinters out of little kids' feet. (My landlord won't let me oil the floors, the idiot).

I feel there is a lot of logic to the old style of doing things, and I think I'm doing the kids a favor by upholding the traditions. Also, I wish this thread had been 20 years ago, there are so many great ideas I'd have loved to introduce to our family.
posted by mumimor at 5:13 AM on September 15 [3 favorites]


I'll be honest: it's a little weird to hear about folks that only shower 3x a week. Even when I wasn't a ridiculously obsessive cyclist, I showered daily. People get funky, yo.
posted by uberchet at 8:45 AM on September 15 [4 favorites]


As I recall we only had 4-6 songs that we alternated and it was maybe half folk songs and half old rock songs. The only two I examples I can remember for sure are ... and "Do Wah Diddy Diddy".

I'm trying to imagine this and... it was either slightly awkward or absolutely adorable. Please tell me it was adorable!
posted by sjswitzer at 8:50 AM on September 15 [2 favorites]


We had the barf bucket growing up. (It was actually a sort of smallish dishpan-looking thing my mom brought home from one of my many, many hospital stays as a child. So, clearly, the medical establishment in the US agrees with the use of the barf bucket!)

My in-laws keep a pepper grinder on the dinner table. Is that weird? (I hate pepper, so I don't use it, but having it there seems perfectly normal to me!)
posted by sarcasticah at 9:21 AM on September 15 [1 favorite]


Lot's of familiar warm fuzzies from this thread. PB&H was Dr. Leslie's famous mix in our house, and all of our cars had names. We caught bats with a butterfly net and let them go outside.

The stuff that raised friends eyebrows was mostly related to my Mom's work in the theater and general crafty activities. I had a giant painting of a tiger she made on my bedroom wall from a production of Carousel. We had racks of latex and foam masks that she'd made in the rec-room, e.g. for the ghosts in Fiddler on the Roof. This resulted in some late night anxiety for friends during sleep overs. But the best memories for me was the constant music in the house. She was always practicing for something, and most every night I'd fall asleep to showtunes on the piano.
posted by calamari kid at 10:14 AM on September 15 [7 favorites]


I think we can safely conclude that those of you without puke buckets are the ones doing it wrong (or don't have kids).
posted by benzenedream at 11:39 AM on September 15 [4 favorites]


I cannot imagine what kind of Village of the Damned-level kids y'all were growing up if you didn't have assigned seats at the dinner table.

Hell, we've only recently been able to de-assign seats on the couch by waiting until most of the kids were teenagers, buying an entirely new couch setup, and accepting that the toddler is going to "assign" new seats on it whenever she feels like it.
posted by Etrigan at 11:53 AM on September 15 [8 favorites]


I'll be honest: it's a little weird to hear about folks that only shower 3x a week.

Standers, no doubt.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:37 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]


we've only recently been able to de-assign seats on the couch by waiting until most of the kids were teenagers

My thirtysomething brother STILL claims "his" seat at the table, and my mom backs him up if I try to sit in it and he complains.
posted by the_blizz at 2:03 PM on September 15 [7 favorites]


I've yet to find a living soul outside my family who calls woodlice sower bugs

This sounds like a variant on "sow bugs", which is a pretty common name for them around here, as are "pill bugs" and "roly-polies". Lots of weird names for those critters.

Thank you so much for the link, as I had no idea what a sower bug or even woodlice was: We always referred to them as "potato bugs".

As for pet names, I do have a friend who also names all his dogs the same names. He specializes in elderly beagles that he rescues from shelters. All the males are Elvis; all the girls are Becky.
posted by annieb at 2:31 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]


toilet-slapping relay race ftw
posted by thelonius at 2:58 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]


In my family, if you had a common cold/virus, your food dish/drinking cup/flatware/chopsticks were segregated from the rest of the family's, and you had to wash your own setup until the cold/virus passed.

It was othering and ostracizing, and seemed to reinforce that you were somehow "bad" for having the misfortune of catching a cold.

In the 70's when I was a kid and there was only broadcast tv, we were allowed to stay up "late" until 10pm if we brushed our teeth during the commercials and therefore hopped into bed right at 10.
posted by honey badger at 3:56 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


ubertchet: I'll be honest: it's a little weird to hear about folks that only shower 3x a week. Even when I wasn't a ridiculously obsessive cyclist, I showered daily. People get funky, yo.

I switched to showering every other day during the worst of the California drought, and kept it up when I discovered that unless you were doing something particularly sweaty or dirty, you'll smell fine the next day, as long as you are in clean clothes.
posted by tavella at 4:22 PM on September 15 [13 favorites]


I thought everyone talked "for" their pets using very specific voices for each pet until college or so. (I still do it. The guinea pigs have a bit of a lisp because of the big front teeth.)
posted by sarcasticah at 4:49 PM on September 15 [21 favorites]


Here's one that I seem to have created in my own family.

Since before my kids were born I have referred to surimi crab stick as "fun crab", I don't know why. Had both kids (16 and 13) explode at me in faux rage tonite during a sushi dinner outing that when they were growing up they referred to it as "fun crab" amongst their friends and were told that "no that's not actually a thing."

Granted it didn't take until they moved out to be revealed, but I was pretty tickled that this throwaway wording I had been using for years produced such a dramatic result.
posted by hearthpig at 6:15 PM on September 15 [8 favorites]


My grandmother was from Ireland, so not only were we all drinking tea with milk as soon as we could hold a cup, but whiskey was the cure for coughs and colds, or to settle the stomach. Sore throats were treated by wrapping a red flannel rag around your neck. We had fried hot dogs and mashed potatoes for dinner often, but looked down on people who ate fried bologna.
posted by CINDERELLEN at 6:53 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]


AlonzoMosleyFBI: My dad was a self employed drywall hanger and would always knock off at 4:00 and come home so we could eat dinner at 4:30. When I got older, I stayed the night at someone's house and as 6:00 came and went with still no dinner, I remember thinking, "When the fuck are these morons going to eat?".

My wife's family are prompt with their holiday meals, because everything takes planning, so you figure out how to get everything done close to the same time. My family? We kind of wing it, every time. Early in our relationship, she was at her family Thanksgiving revelries and we were at ours, and we were still doing prep for something around 8:30 PM, and her family had their Thanksgiving late lunch, and were relaxing with some leftovers before we had our first Thanksgiving meal.

Quackles: I eat lunch at 4:30...

I eat (a usually light) lunch at 11 AM when I'm at work, then I have an early afternoon snack, which is almost always baby spinach leaves on a toasted tortilla with cheese, plus cherry tomatoes or grapes, depending on what we have at home. A co-worker was baffled by my regularity in both of these things, asking (in less direct, more polite terms) how I managed to eat the same thing day after day for afternoon snack. I can't recall what I said then, but my general response is to shrug, smile and say I don't mind it.

(Mind you, I'm fine having the same leftovers day after day, but only for one meal a day, so my tolerance for repetition in meals is pretty high.)

Weird thing that my mother started doing to increase breakfast nutrition: pancakes, waffles or French toast is topped with syrup and apple sauce. Somehow I never realized this was unusual as a kid when we went to restaurants and were never offered apple sauce with these breakfast items, but only in college did I ask friends about it.

Gotanda: Abomination that we cannot stop my Mom from doing. Being obsessed about food safety, she washes fish. Yes. Buys a beautiful filet of fresh fish and then washes it with dish washing soap (and rinses) before cooking.

Some family friends will not eat any meat that they cannot identify, which means that many fine and delicious cuisines are not included in their repertoire, even though they life in San Diego, land of a fine diversity of foods. (They have also nuked their digestive systems by over-medicating and sanitizing everything, but that's another, unnecessary story.)
posted by filthy light thief at 6:55 PM on September 15


I was amazed to find breakfast sweets + syrup + peanut butter in my adulthood, which is a fine alternative to apple sauce, but often too sticky. So unless there's no proteins in a breakfast spread but there is peanut butter, I will use that as a pancake topping, and I have been known to take my own peanut butter to a hotel when out for work, where I know they'll have make-your-own waffles but no peanut butter. Sickly sweet, gooey fake syrup is also too sweet by itself, and doesn't give me enough lasting energy.

Anyway, best of both worlds (peanut butter with pancakes) is Rosa Parks' "Featherlite" Peanut Butter Pancakes. They are indeed light, and not peanut butter sticky.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:06 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]



When I was three, if there was a food I did not want to eat for dinner, my mother would threaten me to "eat it or wear it". I have vivid memories of sitting in the corner crying with Moo Goo Gai Pan running down my face.

Like many others, we had assigned seats at dinner, had to ask to be excused from the table, and called the remote the clicker. My dad had a metal train whistle that he would go outside and blow at dinnertime/bedtime -- my brothers and I knew we had to get home.

Also, when we all got too old for Santa Claus, my parents started signing our gifts from celebrities/characters. Stephen King always got me a copy of one of his new books or George Costanza would get me a pair of slippers.
posted by NoraCharles at 8:04 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]


Our seats at the dinner table weren't overtly assigned, but with a family of four it just worked out that way. With Dad at the head and Mom at the foot, my sister and I just sort of fell into sitting in a particular one of the two seats left.

If there was a dish we didn't want, we had to at least try a bite once.* After that we were free to skip it without comment, but there was no substituting something else. And if we didn't want anything, we were still expected to sit at the table and make polite conversation until everyone else was finished.

I've always been shoes or slippers inside if the house is mostly hard floors, and bare or sock feet if it's mostly carpeted.

If somebody says "I'm thirsty," you reply, "I'm Friday; glad to meet you."

Holiday traditions:
  • Except for electric lights, we never had anything storebought on our Christmas tree.
  • If you got underpants for Christmas, you put a pair on your head like a party hat for the rest of the gift-opening.
  • I was an adult when I learned that other kids made a "Christmas list" or asked for specific presents. That would have been considered greedy and selfish in our family.
  • The cat(s) got a little evaporated milk in a fancy dessert dish, which we called their "Christmas Pudding." (Back then we didn't know that cow's milk wasn't a great thing for cats to eat.)
  • We did a blind gift exchange at our parochial school, but there were strict rules beyond the price limit. All the presents had to be wrapped in plain white tissue paper, with "[CLASSROOM NAME] [GENDER]" printed small, in black ink, in one corner (e.g. "Joshua Girl"). Everything was piled on two desks, and when your name was called in alphabetical order you went up to the "boy" or "girl" desk, closed your eyes, and picked something at random. The reasoning was that it would prevent kids from tipping their friends off by telling them to look for a specific package, and alsohead off any potential idolatry in the form of the images on the wrapping paper.
*It was an extremely rare occasion, because my mother was and is The Best Cook In The World.posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:01 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]


It took three girlfriends before I realized that parents about once a season sending their children to bed early and having a screaming argument for hours ending in them sleeping in separate rooms for a few days wasn't normal. No, I wasn't doing this to my partners, but learning that parents engaging in such antagonistic histrionics on a regular basis wasn't normal was quite the eye opener.
posted by Blackanvil at 10:22 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]


... discovered that unless you were doing something particularly sweaty or dirty, you'll smell fine the next day, as long as you are in clean clothes.

You may find it benefits your skin's ability to retain moisture as well.

Regarding fighty as opposed to non fighty parents, let's just say my wife's parents and my parents had what can fairly be characterized as polar-oppositional attachment strategies. On the one hand a cool, formal style emphasizing, what, mind reading or something instead of communication but which was very much about anticipating and going to absurd lengths to accommodate the imagined desires of the partner, versus antagonistic and delusive screaming matches in which each partner blamed the other for not, um, accurately intutiting the others' needs. We do not have, nor do we want, kids. We love our parents very much and are thankful they did not have more children.
posted by mwhybark at 12:06 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]


I've mentioned elsewhere that my own family "gift bringer" post-Santa was a guy named "Sam Yakaboochie", who was a made-up guy my father would tell me and my brother silly stories about when we were little. Dad just started spontaneously signing one of the gift tags on our Christmas presents as being from Sam, and it's been a thing ever since my brother and I were teens.

But that's not "weird", see, that's awesome.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:13 AM on September 16 [8 favorites]


You guys are making way too huge of a deal about the mealtimes. Look, I was raised by a single dad who worked third shift at a mental hospital (think 11 pm - 7 am-ish). My brother and I were pretty much on our own for dinner, because what most people consider "dinner time" was my dad's last chance to get a nap in before heading off to work.

Also, seriously guys? There is an insane about of emphasis placed on all that "family table" nonsense. In my family, that was just for special occasions and holidays (and even then, Thanksgiving et al. had to be done early because my dad often had work the same night).
posted by Delia at 7:28 AM on September 16 [2 favorites]


I assume most of these are culturally bound. Americans often get incensed that my default notion of pancake looks like this.

I just learned a couple of days ago that pancakes are different in the US and UK, when a contestant on the Great British Baking Show said, "I prefer the thick American-style pancakes."

I think your pancakes look tasty and I would love to eat them all the time.
posted by Orlop at 8:36 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]


We lived in a flight path, so conversations would often be interrupted for five to ten seconds. It's less obvious that the plane is coming when you're on the phone, so we trained our friends that when we said "Plane", they might as well stop talking. That percolated out into live conversations -- see something distracting? Say "Plane" and everyone pauses and looks where you're looking. It's very useful when you don't want to make it obvious that you're staring at something.

In 1983, I visited my grandmother in San Diego (from Michigan). Upon learning that a professional theater was doing a production of West Side Story, I convinced her to get us tickets, as I had only ever seen the movie (and loved it). The theater was outdoors, and under a flight path. When a plane went over, everything on stage would simply freeze until it had passed, and then start up again. It was fantastic, and although I remember it vividly as a fascinating experience, I don't remember that it particularly interfered with my enjoyment of the play.
posted by Orlop at 8:46 AM on September 16 [10 favorites]


Minimally heating the house in winter. We just piled on sweaters, fingerless gloves and sometimes toques indoors

My dad was so fucking cheap that I didn't know until I grew up and moved out that you could be warm in your house in the winter. And be warm when sleeping at night.
posted by Orlop at 9:08 AM on September 16 [3 favorites]


Watching TV when it wasn't dinner, if someone had left for a bathroom break or a snack or whatever, if there were coming attractions, ("Next week on...") we'd yell "Scenes!!" and whomever would run back to not miss it.

You have just re-opened a childhood memory for me. We did this, too.

My mom used to tell this story about when my brother was little. A TV show would end and they'd start trying to put him to bed, and he'd protest, "Scenes! Scenes!" He wanted to stay up through the commercials to see the scenes from next week's show.
posted by Orlop at 9:17 AM on September 16 [2 favorites]


Mom's parents were Parisian, and dad grew up in a social-climbing family in NYC. Sometimes on these fancy occasions we'd have escargot and oysters. This was land-locked suburban Atlanta in the late 60s and early 70s.

My partner grew up in North Dakota, but his mother was raised in very comfortable circumstances in Philadelphia. She would mail-order food items she missed, which is how he grew up eating escargot for dinner sometimes. I always want him to have been a total prairie rustic, but he grew up in Bismarck, a decent-sized little city, with relatively cosmopolitan parents, and vacationed in Minneapolis, whereas I grew up in a very small town in Michigan, and we only ever traveled to places that were even more rural, cabins up north or campgrounds in the middle of nowhere. I don't think we ever even had Chinese takeout growing up.
posted by Orlop at 9:21 AM on September 16 [2 favorites]


Americans often get incensed that my default notion of pancake looks like this

My wife makes pancakes that style, and we call them crepes; I make the other style, the more puffy, thicker kind. My kids refer to mine as "baby pancakes", likely because they aren't as big (in terms of covering the entire plate) as the other style. They like them both just fine, provided they can drown everything in maple syrup. Like, lakes of it.

Speaking of maple syrup, one of the long-running things in my extended family is that my mother-in-law buys the Aunt Jemima style syrup, while we only get maple syrup. My in-laws have a small vacation property in the mountains, and whenever we borrow it, we leave behind some maple syrup which disappears by the next time we return. All the while my mother-in-law insists there is no difference between the two syrups, and she doesn't care. Now this is a woman who regularly stores foodstuff for a very long time - like, we've gotten rid of jars and cans of things that are over a decade old - but that maple syrup disappears right quick, every time.
posted by nubs at 9:42 AM on September 16 [5 favorites]


re: pancakes - We had both kinds described above in our house except that the thin ones were referred to as "pancakes rolled up with jelly". That's because we smeared them with grape jelly & butter, rolled them up, dusted them with powdered sugar and then cut them into pieces. It wasn't until I was an adult that I realized these were "crepes".
posted by mmascolino at 9:49 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]


Oh, my mom doesn't want to go out in public in shorts or she'd be "embarrassed". Which I do sort of get, but we live in the Deep South where everyone wears shorts all the time. I can't even remember the last time I wore long pants or jeans for something that wasn't a job interview. She also doesn't want to die of heat stroke. This leads to the sometimes absurd situation where she leaves the house in jeans or long pants in the morning, then comes home and changes into shorts at mid day when it gets too hot, then goes back out, then comes back in the evening to put long pants back on. Frankly it just seems exhausting.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:16 AM on September 16


My husband and I were together for about 13 years before we had our kid. And after having a few “the way I do it is better!” fights we gave up and lived with two kinds of peanut butter, two kinds of syrup, two kinds of toothpaste. But we enjoy baffling our kid with extended discourses about which kind she should like and lording over the other one when she chooses “correctly.” And her generation, especially in our area, just seems so much less brand conscious. And so much less focused on packaged goods than we grew up with that is just anachronistic times two. I had to explain to her what a “jingle” was when we were listening to an oldies station that plays vintage ads during the breaks.

Growing up, we called any kind of ingredient substitution a “Jerry” after my father who would once made a pesto using parsley because he was out of basil. And he would explain all this with some pride - “didn’t have any broccoli so I used peas and we were out of chili powder so I used black pepper and there wasn’t enough spaghetti noodles so I used rice.” Every now and then he’d come up a winner but mostly not.

For the no-shoes houses, for the most part, I’m on board with this. But I hate getting foonsockled at someone else’s house! If they have small kids or pets, I’m more likely to keep my shoes on. You gotta keep clean floors if you wants guests in bare feet or socks.
posted by amanda at 10:29 AM on September 16 [2 favorites]


The underpants monster:
If you got underpants for Christmas, you put a pair on your head like a party hat for the rest of the gift-opening.

Epony-origin story?
posted by notsnot at 10:43 AM on September 16 [17 favorites]


Minimally heating the house in winter. We just piled on sweaters, fingerless gloves and sometimes toques indoors

My dad was so fucking cheap that I didn't know until I grew up and moved out that you could be warm in your house in the winter. And be warm when sleeping at night.


I'm STILL more comfortable sleeping in an ice-cold room, in flannel sheets and jammies, socks, and a pile of quilts and blankets.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:18 AM on September 16 [3 favorites]


- Shoes outside, socks/slippers inside. Very much the norm where we live now, but still kept up even when we were the Shoeless Weirdos. For people wondering about the stinky feet issue, it's not! Shoes get worn less and have more time to air out in between -> less smelliness.

- Just Immigrant Parent Things: mac'n'cheese/burgers/hot dogs/chips were never made or brought home; pizza and soda was for having friends over, very occasionally; fried eggs just aren't right without maggi sauce. Also, since my mother cooked a mix of Vietnamese and French recipes we were living the fusion food life before it was hip, and I think I only realized in my teens that French rillettes was meant to be eaten cold on bread, not warm on rice.

- Possibly Just My Mom Things: movie popcorn was verboten because it's too noisy.

- We didn't have pancakes, French toast or waffles growing up (see above), but every once in a while my dad would make this sort of sweet omelet which was eggs whisked and thinned with milk, cooked like a crepe, spread with jam and rolled up. In retrospect this might have been an extremely lazy (and eggy) version of palačinky.

- Speaking of jam, I didn't know until I was almost an adult that most jams are shelf-stable until you open the jar. My mom only makes freezer jam (plum, usually) and never bought storebought jam or jelly when I was growing up. PB&Js were sticky but highly flavorful.

- My parents like to travel and my mother is allergic to cats and dogs, so we didn't have large furry pets growing up. On top of that, my mother not only grew up with the understanding that dogs were outside pets but was attacked by a strange dog when she was a child. I think I was in my twenties before I fully got over the idea that dogs were generally nice, but potentially dangerous (even the ones that were very obviously friendly and good with strangers) and definitely not very clean.

I moaned a lot about not having a cat growing up, but in retrospect my mom's, "For the thousandth time, bettafish, here is why we can't have a cat" lectures as well as the research we were expected to do before finally getting gerbils did a lot to hammer in the idea that pets are a serious financial and lifestyle commitment and not to be acquired on a whim. I'm in my early thirties and finally in a stable enough living situation that I might get my first cat in another year or two, so stay tuned for that "name my pet" Ask.

- Duvets are the best blanket because they suffice on their own for all but the coldest weather and making the bed takes ten seconds.
posted by bettafish at 1:51 PM on September 16 [3 favorites]


I'm STILL more comfortable sleeping in an ice-cold room, in flannel sheets and jammies, socks, and a pile of quilts and blankets.

It turns out I prefer this as well. But growing up, I had neither a well-heated room nor adequate bedding, because of my parents' narrow ideas about what was appropriate.
posted by Orlop at 2:14 PM on September 16 [1 favorite]


  • PJs under the pillow, yes
  • Assigned seats at the dinner table, no elbows, dinner wasn't over until you'd folded and rolled your napkin into the napkin ring. If you hadn't finished something you didn't like, you couldn't leave the table until you did
    (yeah two hours alone in the kitchen in the dark with a mouthful of bone-ridden poached haddock no that didn't fuck me up for life at all)
  • black pepper on raspberries, white pepper on strawberries
  • ‘Olympics’ (most likely for the '72 games, so we'd have been 8, 6 and 3): running round the house naked for 20 minutes before the shared bath. It was a while before I realized bathwater didn't come out the tap greyish
  • clothes were handed down through the siblings where possible. Brother (eldest) usually got new, me (youngest, with interstitial sister) often had interesting get-ups. There's a sweet picture of me aged 4 making friends with a cat while clearly wearing a repurposed pair of my sister's summer sandals
  • dinner at 7, or on Fridays/weekends we might have a high tea with toast (dad ate his with mashed sardines, a concept that revolted 5-y.o. me but I now know to be a sublime delicacy), sandwiches and cake in front of the TV (typically watching 'The Generation Game')
  • Puke bowl was a tin waste bin, so the first spew always had some crazy reverb
  • Watered-down cola if you were poorly — pretty much guaranteed to make you spew
  • Rubber bands were things of rare value. You. did. not. throw. them. out. If they broke and you could still knot them, you did. Old hot water bottles were sliced to make the most memorably crap rubber bands ever
  • All ills could be traced to constipation
  • All ills could be cured by a serving of egg-in-a-cup
  • Butter at room temperature
  • The kids did the washing up, of course, and rinsing was what weird people did. It got wiped off when you dried, of course
  • Pancakes were small thick things made on a girdle (yes, that is the right word) which occasionally got a drop of butter, should never be cleaned, and in my grandma's house (maker of the best pancakes ever) got an occasional wipe with a bit of newspaper.
  • Shrove Tuesday pancakes were more like crêpes, and were of course eaten with sugar and lemon juice (everyone else is still doing it wrong)
  • separate cutlery for fish
  • afternoon visitors got tea and fresh scones — mum could make a batch from scratch to serving plate in 15 minutes
  • When very young, poop was big whispers and pee little whispers. One signalled that one was ready for adult bum-wiping assistance by yelling “Fin-fin-fin-fin-fin-ished!” from the loo at top volume. Several visiting church elders were surprised by this
  • weekly trips to the library and an expectation you'd read 3 books a week on top of your homework
  • With his after dinner coffee, Dad would have a chocolate biscuit: a mint Yoyo. He'd smooth out the foil wrapper on the table, then form the foil over his nose. Once the foil was laid flat on the table, the youngest (officially me, but frequently my older sister otherwise tantrums) smashed the foil conk flat and dad would pretend to have been socked in the face. It never stopped being hilarious
posted by scruss at 4:28 PM on September 16 [6 favorites]


My wife's mother told her kids that warm bread from the oven was poison until it cooled. I learned this the first time I baked bread after we were married. It was hard for me to believe someone would deprive their children of one of life's greatest pleasures just because otherwise she'd have to bake more bread.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 5:35 PM on September 16 [5 favorites]


My dad was so fucking cheap

…that I didn't know novocaine for fillings was a thing until my teens.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:49 PM on September 16 [3 favorites]


Minimally heating the house in winter. We just piled on sweaters, fingerless gloves and sometimes toques indoors

Same here. Grew up in an old uninsulated house in New England and then a newer poorly insulated house. Ice on the inside of the bedroom window some winter mornings. But, I was used to it. Works out well because I now live where there is no central heating or insulation. Sleep well in an ice cold box.

My sister however, hated it. In fifth grade she wrote a letter to my Dad's boss asking him to give Dad a raise so he could afford to heat her bedroom.
posted by Gotanda at 12:57 AM on September 17 [4 favorites]


About the fish.

Being obsessed about food safety, she washes fish. Yes. Buys a beautiful filet of fresh fish and then washes it with dish washing soap (and rinses) before cooking.

*needle scratch*

Okay, this is SERIOUSLY UNSAFE, isn't it? How has she not realized she is CONTAMINATING the fish instead of cleaning it?

I mean, I can see washing it with a rinse under water, but DISHWASHING SOAP?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:13 on September 14 [16 favorites −] [!]

She claims that since the Joy is safe to use on plates and forks and stuff that it must rinse off enough and be safe on the fish. Something about fish juices or oils harboring germs. This may be a hold over from being exposed to supermarket fish in upstate New York years ago. But they buy good fish. And, they buy it to be HEALTHY. And, part of the health things is the oils THAT SHE WASHES OFF!

--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+

I’m still stuck on the washing the fish with soap. That doesn’t even seem healthy. I read that comment hours ago and can’t stop thinking about it.
posted by sio42 at 19:26 on September 14 [50 favorites −] [!]


I can't stop thinking about it either. I am just so thankful that I moved out before this became a household practice. Otherwise I might have been that guy. You know. That weird guy who soaps up his filet of sole! My spouse and BIL are appalled at this and just cannot get over it either. One time Mrs Gotanda and I had acquired about 10 pounds of super fresh right off the boat tuna (chu toro) and when I unwrapped in on the kitchen counter Mrs G and I just started slicing pieces off and eating it. Mom just about had a violent fit. We wound up grilling all of that fish as a compromise, but fought to keep the soap off it. We only eat fish there a couple times a year, so I hope we don't die.

--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+--+

Gotanda: Abomination that we cannot stop my Mom from doing. Being obsessed about food safety, she washes fish. Yes. Buys a beautiful filet of fresh fish and then washes it with dish washing soap (and rinses) before cooking.

Some family friends will not eat any meat that they cannot identify, which means that many fine and delicious cuisines are not included in their repertoire, even though they life in San Diego, land of a fine diversity of foods. (They have also nuked their digestive systems by over-medicating and sanitizing everything, but that's another, unnecessary story.)
posted by filthy light thief at 3:55 on September 16 [+] [!]

Oh, yeah. That's the weird part. Not hung up on sanitizing or other super germophobe stuff. Just food. And, really mainly fish and some meat. Parasites are the devil. As a kid I never ate a pork chop I couldn't hammer nails with.
posted by Gotanda at 1:19 AM on September 17 [3 favorites]


I liked kindergarten well enough as a child, except for the fact that it was mandatory to drink a glass of milk at lunch. Your choice between standard and low fat milk, but it had to be finished. We didn’t drink milk at my house, and seeing adults drink milk with a meal in a restaurant would cause raised eyebrows. I don’t think I’ve drank milk since I started school, and I find cereal tricksy and wasteful because what am I to do with the milk at the bottom of my bowl, eat it?

My brother and I weren’t supposed to order pasta in a restaurant ”because you can eat spaghetti at home”. Restaurant pasta was usually spaghetti in my small town in the 80s, but we didn’t eat it a lot at home because dad – who came up with the rule in the first place – didn’t like it very much.

Sometimes my brother and I would snack on ”hand sausages”, i.e. a cold hot dog-type sausage straight out of the package, held in your hand like an ice cream cone.

The news was the only really acceptable thing to watch on tv. My parents were scandalised when we started getting cartoons on weekend mornings. Watching tv during the day, what madness! I’m sure they still haven’t realised you can eat dinner in front of the tv and think tv dinner trays are fictional, like the Jetsons.
posted by hannala at 3:34 AM on September 17 [2 favorites]


My first college roommate got the flu and I asked if she wanted a puke bowl Incase she couldn’t make it to the bathroom in time.

That is totally a thing in my house, growing up and now as an adult, and anyone who says it isn't has never had to clean up after a sleepy child who threw up all over their bed at 2am.


I come from a family of motion sickies. 4 out of 5 of us. Yet we still did the Canadian drive to Florida thing every march break. But you see our cars had large empty ice cream containers in back seat with the lids kept in the glove compartment. Get sick in the ice cream container, ask for the lid, and carry on. The trick was to be the first to get sick so you got an empty container. Between 3 boys and a mom there was a lot of sick to go in those containers.

Very awkward being in other people's cars and suddenly learning, under the worst circumstances, that they didn't have empty ice cream containers.
posted by srboisvert at 3:58 AM on September 17 [2 favorites]


Gotta say that my family didn't really do anything weird, I guess, (aside from a couple of things mentioned here which really aren't weird, eg butter out of fridge), however this thread is giving me some excellent ideas for things to inflict on my own kids.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:07 AM on September 17


The thing where you press your mouth against someone's tummy and blow, sometimes called a zerbert? My family calls that a bagpipe.

We also call underwear "mannies" thanks to my aunt's childhood mispronounciation of panties.

I'm weirded out by a barf bowl. Doesn't the rounded bottom make the throw up just splash up in a wave? I think we used the bathroom trash can. I barfed a lot as a kid, but usually in the car so I mostly remember using a plastic bag.
posted by apricot at 4:48 AM on September 17 [1 favorite]


Tea is life. Cups of tea with breakfast, lunch and dinner. And only black tea. None of that fancy fruity stuff.

I have 3 siblings, so there was always at least 6 people in the house, and it was an unspoken rule that you don't make tea just for yourself, you pretty much have to make a cup for every person who is awake in the house. Even if it involves multiple kettle boils. I still find it weird when somebody makes a cup of tea and doesn't offer to make me one at the same time. WERE YOU RAISED BY BEARS.
posted by cholly at 5:02 AM on September 17 [8 favorites]


I'm sure this came from my mother, who is quite the clean freak, but when I bought a house with a pool I learned how many people SIT ON FURNITURE IN THEIR WET BATHING SUITS!!! What is wrong with these people, which includes my sister WHERE DID SHE LEARN THAT WAS OK??
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:04 AM on September 17


I discovered that unless you were doing something particularly sweaty or dirty, you'll smell fine the next day, as long as you are in clean clothes.
I have met several people who clearly think this, but generally speaking I have not found it to be accurate.
posted by uberchet at 7:06 AM on September 17 [15 favorites]


I liked kindergarten well enough as a child, except for the fact that it was mandatory to drink a glass of milk at lunch. Your choice between standard and low fat milk, but it had to be finished. We didn’t drink milk at my house, and seeing adults drink milk with a meal in a restaurant would cause raised eyebrows.

OMG I didn't bring this up because I was sure nobody else could relate to it. And we were also brought up to believe wasting food was awful, so it never would have occurred to me on my own to just put the milk on my tray and then quietly slip it into the trash. I can't count the tear-filled arguments I had with lunch ladies before Mom told me to take it and toss it. (Most of the kids in our family have cows' milk sensitivities that we outgrow at some point.)

Another thing I just remembered: Mom would always pull us aside before eating at someone else's house and tell us which dishes not to eat, because she knew or believed they contained their home canned food, and she didn't trust anyone else to sterilize the jars as thoroughly as she did.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:42 AM on September 17 [2 favorites]


Oh, and until Junior High she wouldn't let us go on school field trips unless she could be a chaperone.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:44 AM on September 17


I hesitated to bring this up because, well, because, but with all this talk about puke bowls, I could not help remembering a story of the time the family was going to visit a cherished aunt in Brooklyn. We were stuck, really stuck, in traffic on what I now believe is the Jackie Robinson Expressway. My older brother, about 7 at the time had to..uhm..take a dump. He REALLY had to go. So, my mother reached back, grabbed the garbage that had the weighted legs that sat on the transmission or drive train hump in the middle on the floor and told him to go for it. He did. Then he was instructed to open the door and toss it out. We were in the right lane and sure enough, he tossed in onto the shoulder. Luckily, it landed right side up as the weighted feet were still in play.

Remember those garbage pails? I cannot look at one the same ever again.
posted by AugustWest at 9:14 AM on September 17 [4 favorites]


a) this thread still has WAAAAY too many puke bowl references

b) If you hadn't finished something you didn't like, you couldn't leave the table until you did
(yeah two hours alone in the kitchen in the dark with a mouthful of bone-ridden poached haddock no that didn't fuck me up for life at all)


That was young hanov3r and milk. I *hate* milk. I especially hate "white milk" - for a while, as a kid, I could stomach chocolate milk if it had enough chocolate but I still hated it. And mom would insist that I had to drink it, and I would insist that there was no way I was going to drink it, and the milk and I would sit for hours staring at each other. I *once* tried to win by telling mom that it had gotten warm and room-temperature milk was even grosser than cold milk AND SHE PUT ICE CUBES IN IT AND TOLD ME TO DRINK IT ANYWAY.

Nope, not lactose intolerant, and I love me some cheese and ice cream and even egg creams. But a glass of milk (or *gag* milk on my cereal)? GROSSSSSSSS.
posted by hanov3r at 10:05 AM on September 17 [2 favorites]


We call the remove "the TV box".
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:27 AM on September 17


I mean, in my family when someone was feeling nauseous and weren't sure whether they would be sick in the middle of the night, they would move the wastebasket next to their bed as an "in case I don't make it to the bathroom" move. So the notion of "nearby receptacle for vomit" isn't that odd.

However, we didn't give said receptacle an official name, or have an officially-designated receptacle that was the sole such receptacle used for this purpose. We'd just grab the wastebasket in our respective rooms and move it next to the bed. Maybe line it with a trash bag. If we didn't need it, we moved it back to its usual spot by the wall.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:47 AM on September 17 [2 favorites]


If I can divert from the puke bucket discussion briefly (my family also used those just as a matter of common sense, but as far as I recall we didn't have a special name for them), one that's not mine but always stuck with me from eating dinner at my best friend's house from elementary school was that the kids weren't allowed to have anything to drink with the meal, because -- so the logic went -- they'd fill up on water/milk/juice/soda instead of food.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:58 AM on September 17


Can I get a ruling on this, please?
Old underwear waistbands cut off for use in holding shut the Monopoly box, and any other box too large for an ordinary rubber band.
*whole body shudder*
posted by wenestvedt at 12:33 PM on September 17 [5 favorites]


Very awkward being in other people's cars and suddenly learning, under the worst circumstances, that they didn't have empty ice cream containers.

The flip side is having a kid yak in your car, and when you tell the parent, have them shrug nonchalantly because "He always throws up in the car -- we just keep a bowl in the back seat."

WTF, man, you gave him pizza and cake and then put him in my car without saying anything? On these roads??
posted by wenestvedt at 12:36 PM on September 17 [6 favorites]


Old underwear waistbands cut off for use in holding shut the Monopoly box, and any other box too large for an ordinary rubber band.

On the one hand, ew. On the other hand I support anything that would make people less likely to touch a Monopoly box.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:41 PM on September 17 [4 favorites]


In our family, "dinner" could refer to either lunch or supper. Sunday dinner was often a big meal right after church and holiday dinners were usually at 3 pm. Now as an adult, I only use it for the evening meal.
posted by soelo at 1:10 PM on September 17


I have no problem with the underwear-waistband-recycled-as-board-game-securer idea, assuming, of course, that the underwear got one last wash first.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:09 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]


I hesitated to bring this up because, well, because, but with all this talk about puke bowls, I could not help remembering a story of the time the family was going to visit a cherished aunt in Brooklyn. We were stuck, really stuck, in traffic on what I now believe is the Jackie Robinson Expressway. My older brother, about 7 at the time had to..uhm..take a dump. He REALLY had to go. So, my mother reached back, grabbed the garbage that had the weighted legs that sat on the transmission or drive train hump in the middle on the floor and told him to go for it. He did. Then he was instructed to open the door and toss it out. We were in the right lane and sure enough, he tossed in onto the shoulder. Luckily, it landed right side up as the weighted feet were still in play.

"Holy crap!", Tom Swift said [sacra|excre]mentally.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:14 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]


I'm sure this came from my mother, who is quite the clean freak, but when I bought a house with a pool I learned how many people SIT ON FURNITURE IN THEIR WET BATHING SUITS!!! What is wrong with these people, which includes my sister WHERE DID SHE LEARN THAT WAS OK??

Well, it depends on the furniture, doesn't it? If it's plastic or something similar that won't get ruined by getting soaked, then... OK, I'm one of those hideous people. (But, seriously, lawn furniture gets a pass, right? Come on.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:17 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]


Doesn't everybody hang the washing out, sorted by family member so that when it gets brought in it can be folded, organised by where in the wardrobe it goes and sorted from oldest to youngest?
posted by cholly at 2:36 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]


I'm still a little put off by the title of the post. not use the front door for any reason suggests families not making a big deal about Halloween, when, at least at our house, a big production was made in removing the screen from the outside door frame (which never really needed to be put in place since the door was so rarely used), scary decorations were hung and a big bowl of candy put to the ready for my parents to clutch while they sat in the dark awaiting neighborhood kids. Surely that wasn't just a thing in my neighborhood, I mean before the razor blade in Snickers bars scare got out of hand and largely put an end trick or treating for everyone.
posted by gusottertrout at 3:08 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]


Trick-or-treating ended? That's news to the hundreds of kids that show up on our front steps every Halloween.
posted by octothorpe at 3:41 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]


What seems to have happened where I live is that trick-or-treating has become concentrated in one or two areas. Most kids don't go door-to-door in their own neighborhoods; they get dropped off at a certain "safe" section of downtown, or the mall, or the swanky subdivision where the university professors live. In the farming community where I grew up, they would get dropped off on the village main street, so those of us who lived there would be inundated from 5:00 on. Judging by who gets on and off the school buses, there are a not-insignificant number of children living in my apartment complex. But nary a knock on Halloween night.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:57 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]


We had some odd culinary behaviours:
  • Breakfast milk was always powdered milk.
  • Cold oatmeal: instant rolled oats, a dash of cinnamon, a drop of almond oil, a splash of brown sugar and milk. For breakfast. Daily.
  • Corn pancakes for dinner. Pancakes, but with corn niblets in them.
  • Tourtière with maple syrup.
  • Gum drawer. A drawer full of gum. If you had any Wrigley's gum (Doublemint, Spearmint, JuicyFruit, etc.) then you only took half a stick at a time.
posted by furtive at 5:31 PM on September 17 [1 favorite]


My dad was so fucking cheap that I didn't know until I grew up and moved out that you could be warm in your house in the winter. And be warm when sleeping at night.

I can empathize so much. I didn't realize until I moved out that 16 degrees Celsius (about 61 Fahrenheit) was not, in fact, considered the standard room temperature to keep your thermostat. Keeping in mind that our house was poorly insulated, drafty, and in northern-ish Canada, and obviously you had to turn down the temperature even further at night to save energy. Eventually I got wise and pushed my bed to the middle of my room, away from the cold outer wall, which helped a little bit. Last time I visited I stuck a thermometer in my old room by the wall where my bed used to be and I think it was around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

I assumed for a long time that everyone had indoor toques just like you have indoor slippers. When I visit home and complain about being cold, my parents still say, "well, you're not wearing a hat, of course you're cold!"

For food: Cold tofu wieners for lunch. Frozen peas as a snack. Tahini on a banana for breakfast (which still seems normal to me - and delicious - but people keep telling me it's weird).

Oh, and yeah, of course you put out a puke basin and of course you make a cup of tea for everyone else if you're making one for yourself.
posted by ersatzhuman at 7:53 PM on September 17 [2 favorites]


Old underwear waistbands cut off for use in holding shut the Monopoly box

*whole body shudder*

On the one hand, ew.


Do you people not wash your underwear?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:12 PM on September 17 [6 favorites]


Come to find out me my entire family inhaled meals incredibly fast, which, for lack of contrast is why I never knew this till dining hall early in my freshman year when I would polish my dinner plate in 18 seconds flat, look up from my plate to find the entire table amazed at my rate of consumption.
posted by Fupped Duck at 11:45 PM on September 17


Trick-or-treating ended? That's news to the hundreds of kids that show up on our front steps every Halloween.

Really? Wow, that's neat. It mostly ended years ago in my parents neighborhood and where I live it's as The Underpants Monster described, mostly the downtown business district that gets the kids now.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:53 PM on September 17


They've also started doing this thing called "trunk or treat." A big parking lot is set aside, people decorate the open trunks and hatchbacks of their cars, and then they stend by them passing out candy to the kids going from car to car.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:04 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]


There's definitely still trick-or-treating in my neighborhood. We live around the corner from a friend's parents who, in their retirement years, enjoy the odd (and also even) tipple. They hand out candy to the kids and Solo cups of beer and cider to the parents. It's pretty great.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:15 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]


My one neighbor was handing out Jello shots to the adults last year.
posted by octothorpe at 6:24 AM on September 18 [2 favorites]


When I was very young indeed, our family was part of a Young Life-esque Christian community of families which had regular meals together and singing and whatnot. Frequent songs included....well, I just googled to find the title, and no luck. Perhaps it was a homebrew song? Lyrics were:

Come to the feast of the Lion and the Lamb
There'll be singin' and dancin' all day
Kick off your shoes and lift up your hands
The Kingdom of God is at play


Many more including quasi-secular ones like My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean and miscellaneous Rise Up Singing ones. As you may guess, this community ended up being rife with unspeakable awfulness and I was quite glad when we left.

Other stuff:
- Music played on the CD player / radio at every meal, no exceptions. I think my Dad had a bad case of misophonia, and I have inherited it. I must have sound playing to cover the sounds of chewing at all times.
- Church clothes, school clothes, play clothes, never shall they meet
- Written proposals for big requests, e.g. getting my ear pierced in the 4th grade.
- The Sunday after Thanksgiving was always National Help Your Dad Day in which we usually cleaned the garage with him or painted something or some other such chore. Mom did not get a day, alas.
- Every school year we were granted 3 Pick Days. These were spent on a day of our choosing, no questions asked. We were allowed to skip school that day.
- Food specials included Ooey Gooey, which was essentially a whole lot of eggs and cheese and like, store-bought sausage loaded into a giant cast iron skillet and cooked until it could be cut like a pie. I guess it's kind of a quiche, only with maximum unhealthiness. Also "Gushers" which was a waffle cone with ice cream, then my Dad would take the knife sharpener and create a hole down the middle of the ice cream to the bottom of the cone and fill that with Hershey's syrup. Each bite would then ooze chocolate syrup. Both of these were offered when Mom, a nurse and fairly health-conscious, was not home.
- Forced trips to the Western North Carolina mountains for Contra Dancing in a variety of rural locations, at least once a month for years.
- Allowed to choose and open one present on Christmas Eve.
posted by lazaruslong at 6:26 AM on September 18 [2 favorites]


The best Halloween at my place was a couple of years ago, when we realized two of the streetlights on our street were burnt out just before Halloween. The city couldn't replace the bulbs in time, and our whole street looked ominous and foreboding as a result.

Not many kids that year, but the atmosphere was awesome - even my own kids didn't want to trick or treat on our street.
posted by nubs at 6:31 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]


Having work clothes and home clothes and changing when we get home

My father wore suits to work, pretty much up until the day he retired. He referred to them half-jokingly as his "school clothes", which never made much sense to me as a kid. It wasn't until I was older that I realized that when he had gone to school, he had a distinct set of clothes for school, and then had changed into after-school/play clothes in the afternoons, and that this was at the time considered totally normal and sensible (and is, objectively, a pretty good idea).

It also didn't occur to me until even later that his insistence on wearing suits to work everyday, even after the company notionally became 'dress casual' in the 2000s, was perhaps not just stodginess on his part, but was a way of minimizing the amount of laundry he created, and thus lessening the work for my mom. Laundry was her domain, and for him to involve himself in it would have been insulting to her; but not creating additional work for her was, I think, his way of helping in some way.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:40 AM on September 18 [4 favorites]


The city couldn't replace the bulbs in time, and our whole street looked ominous and foreboding as a result.

Everyone goes on about zombies and serial killers, but kids, the real horror is an under-funded civic infrastructure.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:47 AM on September 18 [14 favorites]


This year I’m going as underfunded public transit!
posted by nubs at 6:59 AM on September 18 [9 favorites]



If somebody says "I'm thirsty," you reply, "I'm Friday; glad to meet you."

No, no, no. If someone says "I'm thirsty" you reply, "I'm Friday. Come over Saturday and have a sundae."

The whole family said "White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits," first thing when they woke up on the first day of the month. My dad was forty something when we were born and he always did, so my Mum did it too and then us kids did it. And still do it. When we phone each other long distance, we ask each other, "Did you remember your white rabbits?' and commiserate if someone forgot. When traveling over the beginning of the month my sister will bring a stuffed rabbit toy with her, unless she knows she can borrow one wherever she will be staying, as this is her reminder.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:20 AM on September 18 [6 favorites]


Little Christmas - epiphany - was Dolls' Christmas when we got miniature presents. These were sometimes hung on the tree and only taken down and opened then.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:24 AM on September 18 [3 favorites]


My grandmother served mashed potatoes with a sprig of parsley on each plate for every evening meal. Every evening meal for over fifty years.
posted by Jane the Brown at 7:27 AM on September 18 [6 favorites]


I learned about the "white rabbit" superstition from a Karen-POV book in the Babysitters Club universe.

My family (parents immigrated from India, kids born and raised in the US): if we were eating in a big group, as a nuclear family or with a bunch of other Indian friends/family, we'd sit on the living room floor and use newspaper to cover the carpet to mitigate possible spills.

A breakfast food for weekends: "Indian-style bread," which was slices of store-bought bread, fried with butter on a griddle, eaten by hand with Indian pickle (pickled carrot or lemon, usually). As I look back on it, this is a much easier-to-prepare alternative to chapati-and-pickle. I don't think I've heard about other Indian-American families doing this -- maybe it was just us.
posted by brainwane at 7:42 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]


My dad insisted that if we had a cough, we had to tie an old handkerchief around the neck "to keep it warm." I actually like the coziness of it, and always went with the program (I also love wearing turtlenecks, NOT the abomination that are mock turtlenecks). Anyway, I can still remember my teenage horror one morning, as I looked at myself in my locker mirror, with the handkerchief STILL TIED AROUND MY NECK!
I hadn't realized until that moment that the handkerchief-around-the-neck thing was strictly inside our house only.
posted by honey badger at 8:37 AM on September 18


brainwane, I'm of a similar background (though Canada-based) and family calls that "butter bread". We'd make it for a snack sometimes, but no pickles were involved. Sometimes it was an afternoon or after school snack. My family also considers untoasted bread to be raw so we'd toast the bread in the toaster before frying it up.

Ditto dishwashers as storage. It was the open secret junk food hiding spot. It wasn't until I met my partner's family that I realized some people actually use dishwashers on a regular basis to wash dishes and they even trust them to do the job. I'm still not sold on the idea of using a dishwasher for its intended use though; I've never seen a load where a few items didn't need to get rewashed.
posted by mayurasana at 8:45 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, and I had a health-foodie mom, so I grew up thinking that "grilled cheese" was open-faced cheese on bread toasted in the toaster over.

... And suddenly I remember that the UK grill is a US broiler, whereas a US grill is something you cook with outside; and I now regret having passed up the chance to try grilled cheese in the US through my unexamined assumption that it would just be cheese on toast. What, um, what is the normal meaning of "grilled cheese" over there, please?
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 10:36 AM on September 18 [1 favorite]


A cheese sandwich cooked in butter on a pan or griddle until the bread is toasted to a golden brown on both sides and the cheese is thoroughly melted.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:42 AM on September 18 [3 favorites]


The weird thing about a "grilled cheese" is that it doesn't use a UK OR a US grill. It's a fried cheese sandwich.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:56 AM on September 18 [2 favorites]


On this vein, I did not like cheese (particularly american cheese) when I was a kid, so instead of grilled cheese sandwiches, I got grilled peanut butter. I love cheese now, but still cannot stand processed singles, even the organic ones I get for big and little purr.

Also, for pretty much my entire life, my parents have been building on and expanding their 100+ year old farmhouse, pretty much single handedly, so for most of my elementary & middle school years, it was normal for my room to have plastic over insulation for walls. They also made a side door for everyone to enter (and the old house "front door" became ornamental), but now the side door is less used as they put in a garage around the "back" of the house. It's weird not driving up to the "front door", and entering in the side door! We also had the massive junk storage room, which eventually became the upstairs bathroom. One of the cool additions they did was to put in was a laundry chute which opens directly into a basket on top of the washer. We also had a sand box, but preferred to play in the GIGANTIC sand pile that was excavated from the expanded basement, which was fun.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 12:07 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


See, I didn't realize that the family grilled cheese involved a specialty cheese my dad always got a couple of pounds of when we drove up to visit the grandparents, so I was surprised when I started making my own as an adult that it just wasn't quite the same chewy cheesiness, instead was the sort of undifferentiated goopiness of American slices. Which is fine! Just not the same.

Things got better when I rediscovered that they used like 3 different cheeses, one for flavor, one for body and one for stringiness.
posted by Kyol at 12:12 PM on September 18


I feel like not many of my childhood idiosyncrasies made it to adulthood unscathed. Sleepovers and just general friend-interactions made it clear that most folks did things a little differently -- from us, and from each other.

The only things that come to mind are:

-coke syrup on ice (not a can of coke, the actual syrup in a bottle from the drugstore) for nausea
-using the foldout couch for anything other than guests: the sofabed was everything from a reward for good behavior (because you could watch TV as you fell asleep) to a comfort for the sickies to a Sleepover Platform.
-cuss word allowance: we were allowed a gradually increasing number of cuss words per month, excluding "fuck," until my folks gave up and we all cussed like sailors constantly. Apparently most households go with full ban or full liberties, and no middle ground.
-dessert in our house was called "bedtime treat" and took place waaaaay after dinner. I still think it's fuckin' weird to eat cake like 10 minutes after you've finished some chicken or whatever.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 2:27 PM on September 18 [2 favorites]


Salt is obligatory not just on watermelon, but also on grapefruit, preferably Ruby Red grapefruit.
posted by Daddy-O at 3:01 PM on September 18


Oh, and it's not shaky cheese or sprinkle cheese in our house, it's Stinky Cheese.
posted by Daddy-O at 3:09 PM on September 18


Pajamas under the pillow?

I don't find this offensive, but I can't imagine the motivation if you also have closets and drawers. Also, don't they get all musty and mildewy and leave you with a smelly pillow the next evening? If I don't flip the pillows over and spread them out on top of the duvet every morning, they're still unpleasantly moist when I return to bed. You all must sweat a lot less than me.

My childhood home was weird enough that I learned from early on to assume that nothing I grew up doing would be shared by anybody else in the world. ("Of course you keep the soap and the toilet paper in the lidded metal bucket. Otherwise the rats will eat them in the night!")
posted by eotvos at 3:10 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


The best reason to keep your pyjamas under the pillow is so that when you fall asleep nekkid they'll be immediately to hand if you wake up chilly in the middle of the night.
posted by Westringia F. at 6:13 PM on September 18 [4 favorites]


One of me ex-partners had an aunt called Ida. She was a chain-smoker and often used to doze off with a cigarette between her fingers. As the ash grew longer and used to droop one of the adults would 'knock off the ida' into an ashtray. She was totally surprised to find later in life that nobody else called them idas.
posted by unliteral at 7:34 PM on September 18 [1 favorite]


My grandmother served mashed potatoes with a sprig of parsley on each plate for every evening meal. Every evening meal for over fifty years.

That's extremely interesting, Jane the Brown.

According to my Dictionary of Superstition, by Iona Opie and Moira Tatem, a book which is delightful and fascinating on every page, quoting an informant at Longnor in 1883, 'where parsley grows in the garden, the missus is the master', and quoting an informant at Monmouth in 1905, 'Where the mistress is the master, the parsley grows the faster.'
posted by jamjam at 10:52 PM on September 18 [3 favorites]


I'm still not sold on the idea of using a dishwasher for its intended use though; I've never seen a load where a few items didn't need to get rewashed.

Yeah, those are the ones that stay in the dishwasher for an extra round.

Doing dishes was one of my chores growing up and we didn't have a dishwasher until I was in middle school, but that only lasted a couple years before I was at a house without a dishwasher again. I avoid washing dishes by hand at all costs now.

Well, it depends on the furniture, doesn't it? If it's plastic or something similar that won't get ruined by getting soaked, then... OK, I'm one of those hideous people. (But, seriously, lawn furniture gets a pass, right? Come on.)

Should have been more clear, I'm talking about the indoor cloth furniture. Like people would just plop down on the cloth couch in their wet swimsuits. WTF people?
posted by LizBoBiz at 11:59 PM on September 18


Re: bread-based snacks, every once in a while we'd have buttered sliced bread with white sugar sprinkled on it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:10 AM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Oh, hey, I'd forgotten all about that. White bread, margarine, white sugar, and then under the grill (US: broiler) until the sugar got brown and crispy.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:30 AM on September 19 [4 favorites]


Toasted bread with sugar? You philistines.

It's toasted bread with cinnamon and sugar.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:51 AM on September 19 [12 favorites]


eotvos: I think the point is that you don't want to put the once-worn nightwear back in the drawer with the clean clothes, so if you wear nightwear more than once before washing, putting it under the pillow is tidy. I live alone so it just gets slung over the magazine rack in the bathroom.
posted by tavella at 12:04 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


My grandparents always did white bread with butter and brown sugar. Proper brown sugar, mind. Muscovado, or darker. It was excellent. I might have a slice tonight, see if it at all holds up to childhood memories.
posted by Dysk at 1:11 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Cinnamon toast was toasted bread with butter and cinnamon sugar. I'm talking cold sliced bread, butter, and white sugar, no toasting, broiling, or heating of any kind.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:54 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


I weep for young The Underpants Monster.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:23 PM on September 19 [7 favorites]


When we ate Chinese takeout we had to use chopsticks. No forks available. We all learned to use chopsticks within two or three meals. I am amazed when I discovered that this was not a normal skill, more common than say, riding a bicycle.
posted by Jane the Brown at 3:38 PM on September 19 [1 favorite]


Proper brown sugar, mind.

Which is what, exactly? I believe that what's generally sold as brown sugar is regular refined white sugar with molasses added.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:38 PM on September 19


As a kid, I was pretty embarrassed when I learned "big business" is not a common euphemism for poop.

Oh my god we did that too. Except it was truncated even more to "bigs" and "lits" (take a guess). So you could literally be in the middle of some kind of family thing and announce to everybody "I have to go do bigs now".
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:51 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


We always ate chili over white rice with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.
posted by raccoon409 at 7:31 PM on September 19 [2 favorites]


TIL i am pro big business
posted by mwhybark at 7:59 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


my mom did the broiled white bread, margarine or butter, sugar, cinnamon thing

we also did bean or meat chili over rice with parmesan, which is odd because there was also a family holiday chili which was roughly meat and beans served with hot sauce and vinegar, flavored with cinnamon.

Years later I realized it's roughly Cincinnati chili, without noodles. My maternal grandpa was a logging trucker and the holiday chili came to him via the logging camps. Around 1900, a Greek emigrant to Seattle was a chili merchant. His business failed in the Depression and he moved to Cincy, where his simplified moussaka recipe became a regional staple. In Seattle, Mike's Chili Parlor still sells the real thing, the thing my granddad's camp recipe imitated.

The past ain't even past.
posted by mwhybark at 8:07 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


Rice in the salt shaker isn’t weird. If you live someplace humid and don’t have ac, the rice absorbs ambient moisture so the salt doesn’t clump too tight for the shaker holes.

Morton Salt added magnesium carbonate to table salt to prevent clumping and built their business around the slogan "When it rains, it pours".
posted by she's not there at 9:04 PM on September 19 [5 favorites]


The past ain't even past.

And neither is the repast!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:43 PM on September 19 [3 favorites]


/burrp

mmm, tastes better second time around
posted by mwhybark at 10:49 PM on September 19


Which is what, exactly?

Properly brown. Full of molasses. None of yer pale, practically white sugar demerara or whatever. Properly brown.
posted by Dysk at 1:29 AM on September 20


We always ate chili over white rice with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

This...but....Why is this strange?

No seriously, tell me please because this is exactly what I do today
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:01 AM on September 20 [5 favorites]


> Not in my house, but a friend's, they had "school clothes" meaning that when you got home from school you were meant to change your clothes. The "school clothes" were no different than regular clothes (not like a school uniform or anything).

Sure, school clothes versus play clothes. You wear clothes to school that are nicely maintained and not visibly frayed/damaged so that the teachers/administrators don't think you come from a family of hobos. You take off your school clothes when you get home so that they get worn out less quickly and are less likely to get really dirty or ripped.

It is very obvious to me that there were a lot of expectations around appearances that were cultural vestiges of my family's immigrant identity (Polish, in our case). It was important to signal that we had class and weren't dumb rough peasants. It was still important even though I am third-generation American and grew up in a very white, middle-class, homogeneous suburb and didn't even have a notably ethnic-sounding last name.

(I don't know that the wealthier kids or the ones who had been at least middle-class for many generations were expected to worry so much about keeping their school clothes nice?)
posted by desuetude at 8:33 AM on September 20 [3 favorites]


We always ate chili over white rice with cheddar cheese sprinkled on top.

This is basically Chilli Con Carne when listed on the menu of any British restaurant. Not sure why this is deemed a strange thing?
posted by like_neon at 8:36 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]



1, It's weird because it's the wrong way to eat chili (ie, not in line with the culinary traditions that produced chili); and

2, Did you really just cite how British people serve chili as a reason it's normal? I mean, damn.
posted by uberchet at 9:04 AM on September 20 [18 favorites]


Maybe the literally one geographic area in the entire world that doesn't eat chili on rice or with beans in it are the wrong ones.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:34 AM on September 20 [4 favorites]


No.
posted by uberchet at 11:34 AM on September 20 [2 favorites]


Re:chili I wasn’t totally shocked that people thought it was weird to eat chili that way when I was living in Texas, I grew up in NJ and was willing to defer on proper aspects of chili eating to them. However I was FLOORED that when I suggested to PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS (aka grad students but hungrier and poorer) stretching the chili by serving it with rice people looked at me like I was crazy... except for the other volunteer from NJ.
posted by raccoon409 at 11:57 AM on September 20 [1 favorite]


I've never had chili and cheddar with white rice, but it sounds delicious.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:44 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


I mean, I have utterly no preconceptions that "chili with rice and cheese is authentic" or anything, but nor do I think that chili itself is really "authentically"....anything, is it? I was given to understand it was born as a sort of hazy "cowboys and chuck wagons sort of southwestern US states mish-mosh Tex-Mex area" thing that maybe had a parentage from another dish in another cuisine but passed through so many hands that it became its own thing (kind of like how I have a hunch that jambalaya was somehow back in the mists of time inspired by paella, which in turn feels like it was inspired by pilaf).

So... what you got is some kind of a stew-type thing that's not solid enough to be cut with a knife but is also too solid to be eaten with a spoon, so it's a sort of a stew-type thing. And stew-type things can be served over something like pasta or polenta or some kind of grain. Hence, the rice. As for the cheese - dairy cuts down on spice if it's hitting you too hard, hence the cheese. Sometimes sour cream instead of cheese. And if you're going with cheddar, go with the milder stuff, not the Extra-Sharp Wisconsin kind. (Or even better, if you have one of those packets of pre-grated blends of a mix of different cheeses go with that.)

I do know that there are more serious chili's that use hunks of stew meat and you use beer as an ingredient and there may even be mole involved....I'm talking about chili like your Mom made for dinner on a Tuesday or chili you'd find in a random diner or something.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:57 PM on September 20 [5 favorites]


Chili on spaghetti is pretty good.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:27 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


I have been known to eat chili on mac-and-cheese. And a can of chili and a box of Kraft Dinner will even do in a pinch when camping.
posted by fimbulvetr at 1:48 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


Noshing on uncooked spaghetti and sometimes egg noodles while watching PBS. To this day I associate Ken Burns with gnawing on pasta. This was a Dad thing, we only did this when my mom was working swing shift.
posted by jenjenc at 10:22 PM on September 20


Chilli on rice is totally normal. Back when I could still eat chilli, I'd make up a big batch and have some in tacos and/or burritos. The rest would be leftover for making more tacos and burritos or go on rice with some cheese on top. I would also add any leftover salsa (I made my own, one tomatoey one and one with avocado and cucumber and lemon) after I had heated up the rice and chilli. Try it, it's yummy.

My weird childhood things have to do with holidays, or maybe those are just the ones I remember. Doesn't everyone have kalamata and spanakopita while the whole family is assembling at Thanksgiving, before the usual turkey etc? And doesn't everyone clear the tables out of the way afterwards so the whole extended family can link arms and do the hasapiko around the entire house?

Christmas had its own rituals. The tree did not get put up and decorated until Christmas Eve. Putting it up was often a very complicated affair which involved several of us holding it in place while it was stabilised with guy wires or strategic braces. Then the lights were applied, a modest amount of tinsel and then we kids would wait patiently for Mom to thread a hook onto an ornament (if it needed one) and hand it to us, one at a time, before finding the perfect spot on the tree to hang it. Some ornaments were child-specific, usually the ones which we had made in primary school and so forth. Years later I tried doing this with friends and took on the role of my mum, but they just grabbed whatever ornaments they felt like straight out of the box and put them up anywhere! Heresy. Also on Christmas morning, we kids would wait on the (interior) stairs to be called into the living room where the tree and presents and stockings were. That way Mom & Dad could ensure a certain amount of sleep in the morning instead of being up before dawn.
posted by Athanassiel at 10:54 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


And stew-type things can be served over something like pasta or polenta or some kind of grain.

I'm pretty sure my wife would be outraged if I suggested serving chili over polenta. (I might be able to get away with it if I passed the polenta off as "grits"?) But then we make corn muffins from the mix and eat them with the chili whenever we have chili.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:18 AM on September 21


Polenta is basically cornbread that can't even. Totally okay for chili.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:20 AM on September 21 [8 favorites]


However I was FLOORED that when I suggested to PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS (aka grad students but hungrier and poorer) stretching the chili by serving it with rice people looked at me like I was crazy

I hear you, but as an RPCV this doesn't actually strike me as weird (I am also a Southerner, and I am personally perfectly happy to eat my chili on rice or on polenta or alone or however it's being served, but I'm aware of the Opinions people have on it). Thing is, volunteers aren't generally looking to stretch the food that tastes like home by diluting it. Especially not by diluting it with the thing they are probably eating for multiple meals a day. At least for me, when I was in West Africa, rice and beans were my lunch and dinner like six days out of seven, because, as you say, poor*. Which was fine, but when I had saved up for ingredients to enjoy a non-local-cuisine non-rice non-beans meal, I would similarly have been unimpressed by someone suggesting I basically make it taste less like my childhood and more like the stuff I eat every day just because it looked like I needed a bit more.

*Edited to clarify - really this was more fitting in. Let's be real, I wasn't really poor, in the way people usually mean the word, I just didn't have a ton of cash flow in those moments. I could afford to live two years of my life somewhere else on basically no pay. I wasn't poor, I was making a choice.
posted by solotoro at 3:39 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


Normal in my house while growing up:
- Current PJs under the pillow (other PJs in the drawer)
- Taking shoes off when entering the house (particularly in winter, since, you know, Canada)
- Shakey cheese -- definitely called the Kraft Parmesan Cheese this for a while

What I suspect is not altogether common:
- Calling the remote control the "converter". My dad occasionally called it the clicker, but we used "converter" for both the TV remote and the VCR remote (which we had to PLUG IN to the BETA VCR we had)
- Mustard plasters. I was a kid who got sick a lot, including many, many, many chest colds. So, my grandmother, who would babysit me when sick, would give me a mustard plaster. This went on until I was at least eight. I hated them beyond the telling of it and had basically repressed the memory until this thread.

Of these things, the only thing I do regularly nowadays is taking off my shoes. I call the converters I have the remotes, I don't tend to keep my PJs under my pillow any longer, cheese is just cheese and I definitely do not participate in any kind of mustard plasters.
posted by juliebug at 4:00 PM on September 23 [2 favorites]


@solotoro - I was the fellow PCV making the chili! (And again, chili on white rice does taste like childhood/home to me, more in fact than plain chili does!).

But yes, it was a steady diet of rice and beans everyday for sure
posted by raccoon409 at 4:53 PM on September 23 [1 favorite]


It's never occurred to me to ask other Chinese American families whether they do this, because it seems quite private and personal, but my family and I always soak our feet in hot water in a plastic tub before we go to bed. It's good for your circulation and is very soothing, and is a built-in meditation. I unfortunately had to stop once I go to college and started sharing the bathroom, and my current apartment's hot water is tepid so I need to go and message my landlord about it, but I miss it. If I can ever afford my own apartment, I would love to do this again.
posted by yueliang at 1:22 AM on September 24 [4 favorites]


Also, changing into pajamas/lounge clothes as soon as you get home. Not everyone does this????? But why???? It helps lessen the amount of laundry you need to do, you can rewear clothes and air it out, and it saves so much on the wear and tear of clothes.

Also uh, taking your shoes off when you get into the house. When I lived with two not Asian housemates and a filthy wood floor that required constant mopping, it was so bizarre to me because culturally they didn't take off their shoes. But, your life will be so much easier when your floors are clean and you don't have to expend that much effort on maintaining it! You can wear nice cozy slippers!! I know in Asian households, we take off our shoes because it is just so, much, more, SANITARY. I find it harder to enforce in multicultural households, but tbh I will always prefer a whole 'no-shoes' policy.
posted by yueliang at 1:29 AM on September 24 [5 favorites]


>And stew-type things can be served over something like pasta or polenta or some kind of grain.

I'm pretty sure my wife would be outraged if I suggested serving chili over polenta.

Nor was I suggesting it. I was referring to the use of polenta with stews in general. My argument was:

* Stew is served over some kind of grain-type thing. Polenta is a grain-type thing, but so is rice, steamed barley, quinoa, etc.
* Chili is a stew, and therefore it is perfectly acceptable to serve it over a grain-type thing of your choice.
* Polenta seems like a weird choice, but rice isn't that weird, especially since "Spanish rice" is a thing. Ergo - chili over rice.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:40 AM on September 24


* Stew is served over some kind of grain-type thing.

I think this is where the disconnect might lie - stews can be served over grains (it's not pants-on-head wacky and I'm sure my parents sometimes served us stews/chili over rice or whatever), but I don't think I've ever ordered a stew or chili in a restaurant (which I have done in multiple states and cities) and had it served over anything unless the menu specifically said "stew over something."

IOW, my experience is that the default for stews & chili is that they're not served over anything, just a straight bowl of the stuff. (And for whatever it's worth, the Wikipedia page on "stew" doesn't really mention served over grains.)

In keeping with the theme of the thread, this may be a thing common in your family that's maybe not so common in the rest of the world/U.S.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:39 AM on September 24


I think it's maybe more of a financial thing. Stew may be great in its own, and most sauces are delicious without anything else, if a little overpowering but carbs make a meal go much further.

Rice with chili, rice with canned soup, even pasta Bolognese on bread, they're not always the healthiest thing to do but they make the expensive components (primarily meat) serve a lot more portions than without while still maintaining a devent level of flavour.
There's few meals that can't be stretched a little farther with more cheap carbs.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:50 AM on September 24 [3 favorites]


I know Grandma used mustard plasters on her own children, but by the time we grandkids came along she had moved on to Sudafed! For! Everything!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:40 AM on September 24 [3 favorites]


I'll add to the salted watermelon with sticking a couple of salted peanuts into a freshly opened glass coke bottle. That one has passed down at least 3 generations to me.
posted by thecjm at 8:05 PM on September 24


Oh my God, The Underpants Monster, my mom used to give my siblings and me one red Sudafed every day with breakfast, to ostensibly keep us from getting sick, like it was a multivitamin or something. So bizarre and unhealthy! I don't recall how long she did so, but in the fourth grade, I rebelled and told her I didn't want to take them anymore. "Well, you're going to get sick!" she yelled. "Fine! Sudafed doesn't cure everything, mom!" I yelled back. My mom definitely wasn't dumb, but this was really...odd.
posted by but no cigar at 4:40 PM on September 25 [6 favorites]


When we bothered my mom for something to snack on before dinner, she'd often give us frozen hot dogs which we'd eat like popsicles.

What in the name of fuck
posted by Tarumba at 7:32 AM on September 26 [9 favorites]


Sudafed (the real stuff, not PE) is good for almost any respiratory illness, but a prophylactic it is not.

My grandmother thought coal tar was the answer for any skin ailment, so I'm not judging. ;)
posted by wierdo at 12:31 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


The cure-all when I was with my grandpa was always mercurochrome. Any kind of cut or scrape got the red stuff. Fortunately, I didn't get injured that often...
posted by tobascodagama at 12:49 PM on September 27 [2 favorites]


I was kind of bummed to learn that topical hydrogen peroxide doesn't actually do much of anything. (Except in concentrations so strong that they're likely to do a lot more damage than the original injury.) We went through liters of it each year when I was a kid.
posted by eotvos at 1:53 PM on September 27 [4 favorites]


I think it's maybe more of a financial thing. Stew may be great in its own, and most sauces are delicious without anything else, if a little overpowering but carbs make a meal go much further.


Probably because I grew up eating white rice with every home-cooked meal due to Taiwanese-American household, but whenever i encounter an intensely-flavored thick sauce or stew served with or without a carb, in my mind, I want to pair it with white rice. White rice is an excellent vehicle for a certain thick sauce that seems to exist in every cuisine: think Ethiopian berbere stews or south Indian coconut curries or even American chili. White rice perfectly soaks up the flavors in a way that my French cousin thinks baguettes perfectly soaks up flavors, and extends the deliciousness.

Of course, now I only eat brown rice at home because health reasons, and due to the extra fiber, brown rice just doesn't soak up stews and sauces like white rice does. I'm not-so-secretly happy every time we eat at a restaurant that doesn't serve brown rice.
posted by honey badger at 8:03 AM on September 30 [9 favorites]


To this day I can't see a sunset without deciding whether it's more the color of Merthiolate or of Mercurochrome.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:58 AM on October 1 [2 favorites]


I was kind of bummed to learn that topical hydrogen peroxide doesn't actually do much of anything.

Well, the drugstore stuff is strong enough to at least be self-sterilizing (until it hits its expiration date or gets left out in the sun). So it's not a bad thing to use to clean a scrape or something with. The benefit is that by cleaning out a wound, you reduce the bacterial/viral load that your immune system has to deal with significantly. My guess it's probably not much better than using sterile saline, though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:41 PM on October 1 [2 favorites]


The one time I've taken pseudoephedrine my nose went from clogged to feeling so painfully dried-out that I wanted to pour a glass of water into it. Taking a daily Sudafed sounds like literal hell.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:02 AM on October 3 [2 favorites]


So it's not a bad thing to use to clean a scrape or something with.

My understanding is that it's no longer recommended because it can actually cause cell damage instead of helping.
posted by mosst at 8:39 AM on October 3 [2 favorites]


The men (all southern, protestant white American people) in my family kiss each other on the lips (a little peck) upon greeting.

My older brother, upon reaching junior high, took me aside to explain how deeply weird other families seemed to find this.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:53 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


As a child, my mom introduced me to her favorite treat: white bread, butter, and sugar (not toasted, though cinnamon toast remains a staple in my diet). It's delicious and I weep for you for not enjoying such a delicacy, Johnny Wallflower!

In college, I was thrilled to learn from two friends who were Dutch exchange students that it was entirely normal for adults eat buttered bread with sprinkles and it brought back warm memories of sugar sandwiches.

I'm late to this thread but have to say that it made me feel a lot less alone. One form my depression takes is waves of shame about whether my upbringing was embarrassingly weird or trashy and it takes a lot of reassurance that every family has quirks and that those quirks can be funny in retrospect instead of shameful.

One thing that oddly enough doesn't cause any shame but instead amusement is remembering that we used our popcorn bowl (which was a giant plastic bowl clearly intended for salads since it was shaped as lettuce leaves) as our puke bowl and we still ate popcorn out of it when it wasn't put into service for whoever was feeling sick. I'm positive my mom still owns that bowl and probably uses it to this day.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 12:47 PM on October 5 [3 favorites]


white bread, butter, and sugar (not toasted

Honestly, that does sound like something I'd enjoy. Mmmm, White carbs and fat.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:31 PM on October 5


Johnny Wallflower, you would like the Australian delicacy, Fairy Bread.
posted by kitten magic at 3:42 PM on October 7 [2 favorites]


I know I've mentioned it on MetaFilter before, but the thorn bushes have roses's popcorn bowl reminds me that all of our cakes were baked in the Corningware casserole the dog brought home one day.

He wasn't even technically our dog, really. He was my mother's childhood dog, who still lived with my grandparents down the road.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:21 PM on October 7 [4 favorites]


Please tell me that you and Mr. Yuck are collaborating on a book about your weird lives.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:54 PM on October 7 [1 favorite]


Calling the remote control the "converter". My dad occasionally called it the clicker, but we used "converter" for both the TV remote and the VCR remote

I completely forgot, but my family did that too!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:59 PM on October 7


I'm not sure I have the capacity to understand why you wouldn't use the front door of your own house.
posted by runcibleshaw at 9:45 AM on October 12


Probably because you mostly come and go via the door that's closer to the driveway or garage.

If you park your car in the garage, there's probably a garage door that is the de facto main door.
posted by uberchet at 12:30 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


In the one house we lived in, the front door led into the basement apartment that was only occupied a few months out of the year. The door to the main living quarters was accessible from the back porch, which was adjacent to the wraparound driveway.

In many houses in the rural United States, the front door opened into the front parlor, which for many families was only used for the most formal of occasions such as weddings and funerals. It would have been kept closed off the rest of the time to keep the best furnishings and carpets clean
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:45 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


We had Sunday dinner after church, and Grandma wouldn't cook for supper - it was fruit, cheese, maybe a cold slice of ham or summer sausage.

We had a very tenuous water supply - everybody bathed in the same water until it was gray, and kettles were heated up on the stove. I was probably 7-8 before I'd taken a shower indoors. Definitely didn't bathe more than 3x a week unless we got really dirty (which happened a lot).

Also because of that water got hauled in a big tank to a cistern, then brought in from the cistern in five gallon plastic jugs for washing and a big steel milking jug for drinking water, which was served with an enameled ladle.

The shoes off indoors thing always made sense to me, although I've never lived in a household where it was required. I don't think I've ever been anywhere it would *surprise* me, and I definitely make sure I have decent socks on when visiting someone's house for the first time, just in case.

My Grandpa would mow his tiny strip of lawn in tiny little track shorts and a "wife beater," for which my Grandma would constantly scold him to no effect. He did have a nice tan.

Everyone I knew would drink and drive more-or-less constantly.
posted by aspersioncast at 8:51 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


nor do I think that chili itself is really "authentically"....anything, is it?

They've been growing varietals of chiles (Anaheim is the common cultivar in CA, Hatch in NM) and tomatillos (*required* for chile verde, dammit) in the Southwest for centuries, so the stuff I grew up with may well be the proto-chili, although probably originally with elk or bison.

In Southern CO and most of NM, chile is made with pork and green or red pueblo chiles, and can usually be served over anything from hash browns to sopaipillas - to this day there are restaurants that will ask if you want "red or green" when you're ordering a hamburger, because why wouldn't you want it smothered in chile you monster.

If you want to thicken it, you add more chiles. It is often made with pinto beans on the side rather than in the same pot. "Spanish" rice would definitely be a normal accompaniment, although generally also on the side. But chile verde over rice with cheese on top wouldn't be weird at someone's house. Corn bread wouldn't be weird, so polenta doesn't seem crazy to me. Tortillas would definitely be around, although fry bread would be more common in parts of NM.

To relate it back to the topic at hand, the kidney bean and hamburger stew that people call chili in the rest of the country is closer to spaghetti sauce than to the stuff I grew up calling chile, and I never really saw it except in the context of a 7/11 chili dog. At some point in my mid-teens my Grandma started making it fairly regularly, so I eventually got used to it, but I would have been embarrassed to have someone over and be served that as "chili."
posted by aspersioncast at 1:24 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]


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