Recent research into the pattern of the average family’s dinner habits suggests a depressing trend. It seems that more and more families are not sitting down together at home for a meal; instead the data states that a tremendous percentage of those studied are eating fast food.

fast food nationThe clincher is that most of the time either these fast feasts are brought home by mom or dad on the way home for work or brother and sister grab a quick burger and fries on the way home from school.

This essentially means that the family as a unit never really gets a chance to have dinner in the classic sense. Dinner used to be more than just eating food. There were stories told and jokes delivered.

Daily briefings from mom on her day. Dad would complain about work and look forward to golf. You might think this table talk would be classified as stereotypical and moot. But the truth is that the experience of dinner itself as enjoyed by the whole family, no matter what the conversation is, is considerably healtheir than calling mom on her cell phone to complain about how the burgers she bought had onions on them. Imagine a family of four, with everyone eating in their separate designated fast food box.

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They could all be talking on their phones miles away from each other “having dinner”. Reading into this research led me to an idea. So, if you are having a case of the summer doledrums, cure your boredom by following these directions:

1) Obtain a Polaroid Instamatic camera and an envelope.

2) Pick one out of the hundreds of fast food places nearest you.

3) Find a way to your desired eating establishment but do not enter the building.

4) Casually stand outside and keep your eyes peeled for an arriving mom/dad/sister/brother.

5) Remember which car is theirs and once they go inside wait for them to order their slop and get a table.

6) Still outside, situate yourself in the parking lot so you can snap a photo of them eating. You may need to edge closer to the window but don’t look too suspicious. If anyone asks what you are doing, tell them you are documenting beautiful architecture.

7) After you have taken an adequate amount of pictures, place them in your envelope and put them on the windshield of the car they drove in on.

You have given them a memory of their dinner alone away from the other members of the family. Once they see themselves eating fried garbage then maybe they will begin to the see the sadness of it all. However, once they realize they have been mysteriously photographed, they might panic and look around in the parking lot for you so don’t hang out after you have finished. Trespassing laws are confusing anyway.

If you are successful then you earn 100 punk rock points. If you earnestly tried but accidentally malfunctioned you earn 50 points. If you break down and go inside for a snack you fail miserably and are not worthy of any amount of points for eight years. Treat this assignment as a lesson in suburban voyeurism. You may be surprised by what you see. I know I was.

Illustration: Stivers

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