Things to Avoid 10: Imposition (戒強讓)

戒單::戒強讓
治具宴客,禮也。然一肴既上,理宜憑客舉著,精肥整碎,各有所好,聽從客便,方是道理,何必強讓之?常見主人以箸夾取,堆置客前,污盤沒碗,令人生厭。須知客非無手無目之人,又非兒童、新婦,怕羞忍餓,何必以村嫗小家子之見待之?其慢客也至矣!近日倡家尤多此種惡習,以箸取菜,硬入人口,有類強姦,殊為可惡。長安有甚好請客而菜不佳者,一客問曰︰「我與君算相好乎?」主人曰︰「相好!」客跽(音既,跪下之意)而請曰︰「果然相好,我有所求,必允許而後起。」主人驚問︰「何求?」曰︰「此後君家宴客,求免見招。」合坐為之大笑。

List of Things to Avoid::Imposition
A banquet host extends his courtesy and generosity towards his guests by providing them with good food. But once the food is laid out on the table, the guests should be allowed to choose whatever food they fancy, regardless of whether it is refined, oily, cut in chunks, or chopped into bits. A person of reason attends to the preferences of his guests, therefore, why would he wish to impose his own?[1]

It is all too common to see an annoying host endlessly piling food up on their guest’s dishes and bowls until they overflow.[2] It is not as if these guests are missing their hands or eyes, nor are they young children or new brides graciously holding back out of modesty, so why would a host emulate something done by crass old dames from the countryside? In doing so, they play a poor host by deliberately ignoring the wishes of their guests! Recently, I have seen even more despicable manners, where a host would go so far as violating his guests’ person by insistently shoving chopsticks-full of food into their mouths![3]

In Chang-an there was a man who loved entertaining guests but tended to serve rather mediocre food at his banquets. During an occasion, one of his guests asked: “Are we good friends?” to which the man replied “Of course!”. The guest then knelt down, begging: “If we are indeed good friends, then I have a request to make and will not stand until you agree to it.” Astonished the man asked: “What is it?”, to which the guest replied: “In the future when you host banquets, I beg you to not invite me.” There were roars of laughter all around as they all sat down.

Random notes:
[1]: I admit I’m guilty of this. Things I’ve uttered include: “Drink this soup while it’s still hot!”, “Don’t order that! This is better!”, “You MUST try this chicken! NOW.”, etc.

[2]: These is quite common in Chinese get-togethers. While it is one way in which a Chinese person shows another their good will or endearment, those of us not of fully immersed in Chinese culture growing up (yours truly included) may find this a touch annoying, even in limited doses.

[3]: Let’s hope this never ever gets resurrected.

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