I had my Kentucky Kitchen Table on Election Day of November 8, 2016. There were five people including myself. I did not have a partner for this class project. I knew my mom and her best friend Kim but I did not know the other two men before the dinner. In my group was my Mom, who is forty-six, a single mom and her occupation is a barber. She went to technical school after high school. Kim is thirty-nine and has been for three years. She works at a salvage yard. She graduated from high school and is currently divorced. Keith is forty-seven. He works around his family’s farm and other farm jobs for different people. He got through high school. He has three kids and a possible fourth on the way. He has a preference for open relationships. Gibson is fifty-eight and works as a cattle driver. His wife passed away last year. He also completed high school. My mom cooked the pot roast and I made the lemonade. Our kitchen is a bit small, so we held the dinner in the garage on our lunchroom table.
I started off the dinner asking what did citizenship mean to them. My mom replied freedom. Kim said it was freedoms such as freedom of speech. Gibson said citizenship was rights that lessened every day. Keith agreed with Gibson saying citizenship was slavery. Things began to go South here. I asked Keith and Gibson why they felt this way. Gibson said they, as in the government, were taking away the right to own guns. I reminded him the right to bears arms was in the Bill of Rights and could not be fully taken away. My mother chimed in saying the government was limiting the ammunition, which made the guns useless. Keith began to join in saying we should overthrow this new government under Hilary. Keep in mind the election results were still being counted as it was only seven o’clock. I reminded Keith the reason we have government is to protect us and keep order and with that we have to give up some rights because with every exchange there is always an equal and opposite reaction.
Now I am unsure how it happened, but Keith began talking about how the Free Masons controlled the government. Gibson joined in with how the US currency was going to fall in the next 5 years because we are no longer on the gold standard. My mother joined in saying there was no gold at Fort Knox. I looked to Kim for help here, she had been quiet the entire time. I could tell she also wanted to get back to my original intent for the discussion. When the discussion turned to how the government prohibited the use of lead paint because it prevented the government from using mind control on us citizens, courtesy of Keith, I knew it was time for me to step in and turn this around.
I then asked the group if we could restart the conversation because I was not here to discuss conspiracies, I was there to discuss citizenship. I told them how I saw citizenship as being part of a certain nation. I asked the group if they believed they should help out their fellow citizens. Surprisingly there was a unanimous answer of yes. I asked why they felt that way. My mom spoke for the group saying because we can and somewhere along the way we have needed help.
Next, I asked the group if they knew their neighbors since neighbors are fellow citizens. Gibson said he has known his neighbors for thirty years where he lives currently and at his home before that he knew everybody because he used to deliver milk. My mom said she had met our neighbors when there was a wreck in front of our houses. I remember this time too because I had made my first 911 call that night. Kim pointed out that that was an act of good citizenship. Kim also said she knew her neighbors because her next door neighbor was her brother. Keith said he did not know his neighbors because he was too busy. Keith asked me if I knew my neighbors at my residence hall. I said yes and told them about my RA who lives right in front of me. I also told them of how one of the girls on my floor even shared the same birthday as me! I was very pleased of how the conversation had greatly approved.
At this point everyone was finishing up their plates and were complimenting my mom on her delicious pot roast. I asked the group if they had home cooked meals often. Gibson said when he was younger, he and his family rarely went out to eat. My mom replied with “when you were home”, referring to me. Kim and Keith said they were too busy to cook at home. The group all said home cooked meals were important. Kim said it helped with communication skills, Mom said it helped with sharing and Keith said it helped prevent him from spilling food on his shirt. The group was confused by this then Keith explained when he got a home cooked meal he usually was not going to end up eating in his recliner, but at a kitchen table. Everyone laughed when they realized what Keith was trying to convey.
The experience was definitely an interesting one. At first I thought this was going to be an awful project, but then things turned around and it was a great time! I learned a lot about the perspectives of other people, especially those older than me. My group was not the most diverse in terms of ethnicity but my group comes from and lives in different situations socially and economically. Although they did have one thing in common. They all loved to piddle with stuff in the garage, something I have never really got into. When I had to leave to return to campus, they had found a project to work on together. I hope to have another dinner with this group to see how their project is turning out and maybe discover some more of their oddball conspiracies. They are all friends now which is cute. I was worried about how my mom would handle life without having to worry about me twenty-four seven but now I know she will be ok. I do not regret doing this project!