Civilization did not start with the Jews or the Egyptians or the, um, Ur. It began with a meal, properly divided. Athasthalia is the ancient Greek word for restless wickedness, but it literally means "aggressive, greedy eating", as demonstrated by primitive people.
Dais is also ancient Greek. It originally meant a meal, and derives from Daio Mai ("to divide into equal portions"). To the Athenians, being civilized was measured by how food was distributed. Homer's repeated descriptions of wine being watered, food being prepared and laid out just so, helped to establish the cultural bona fides, the Greek Way of hospitality to strangers. Which the beached Odysseus often was.
It helps to keep these lofty ideas and deep understandings when at the dinner table with three nearly- and full-grown daughters. The last half of the orange soda, 1 leftover steak lays atop spanking new pork chops, and away we go.
Eli's fork descends.
"Stop!" screams Rocky.
It hovers inches above.
"You had the last hot dog on Saturday."
"So stop!" says Rocky addressing the fork directly now; it is 1" above the dark twirled heart of tender T-bone meat.
"Oh my" says Molly, the oldest one.
Rocky puts her thumb on the platter.
"Hey..." I say. So lame.
Rocky slowly drags it closer, away from the fork. The fork follows.
"You guys", says Molly, as she unscrews the Orange soda cap. She grips the bottle. It sloshes.
"Don't take it all!" Eli cries. Molly freezes, the bottle tilted. With her other, non-fork hand Eli reaches, grips the bottle, so hard it ka-thwups inwards, sloshing some onto Molly's plate.
"Hey!" Molly says, angry now.
"Eli!" Deb says.
Rocky drags the platter still, thru the floes of glasses, past green beans, ranch dressing. Readies her own fork. "You don't get the steak AND the last orange soda", she jeers.
"Some!" snarls Eli, dropping the fork and gripping her end of the platter.
"Eli, let go! I mean it!" someone yells.
At this point it's worth reminding the reader that the average lifespan for men in ancient Greece was 40 or so. Because it wore them out, civilizing their children. Or perhaps, left on their own, dragging ass at the end of day, what with swimming to shore from wrecked triremes, and the endless wars w/everyone over the next hill, they simply forgot about Daio Mai and apportionment, reverted to type, and skewered each other over that last of the back meat on the roasted lamb, the last leathery olive, or spoonful of meagre and accursed couscous.
"Hey!" I say, more forcefully.
"Girls!" says Deb.
Rocky pulls the platter another inch and stabs the steak, Eli drops the platter edge and grabs the fork and stabs at it as well, releasing the orange soda and physics, timeless and eternal since Democritus first speculated the atom, did its thing; that is, the foamy orange drenched Molly's everything, and at that moment Rocky's fork, scraaaapes the steak to the platter's curling edge, flipping all, sending steak and 4 perfectly browned, citrus marinated pork chops to the floor, under the chopping block, where Bear the single-minded ShiTzu finds there is a God.
"Hey!" I say, with the Voice.
"Great" says Rocky.
"Jesus!" says Molly, dripping orange. We hand her napkins, while Eli, under the table, says "What?; gets out the other end, crawls on the floor, collecting them (except Bear's; he has one now, gripped in mis-shapen peg teeth, dragging a bone tip on the floor between his briskly trotting-away bowlegged legs).
She stands and turns, starts to rinse them in the sink, puts them on a towel.
"Ewww." says Rocky.
"Enough!" I say, again with the Voice.
"Too much", says Deb, in her Voice.
"Eli!" screams Rocky.
Eli, standing, both hands cradling the chop-laden towel before her, the steak hanging from her mouth, says, approximately: "What?"