Posted by: Josey | August 21, 2007

Outsmarted by the Amish: Part One

by Josey Miller

I am fascinated with the Amish. So much so that, while I’m generally freakishly well-mannered, I lose all self-control around the Amish and take pictures of them even though I know perfectly well that they don’t appreciate it. In fact, when we’re in Central Pennsylvania visiting our favorite B&B, Jeff says I become Amish paparazzi. “You do know they have rear-view mirrors, right?” he said as I took this photo.

So you can just imagine my pure exhilaration at the thought of having dinner with an Amish family.

As part of my 30th birthday gift, Jeff coordinated with Carolyn, our B&B hostess, who is able to set up these dinners with her Amish neighbors. And once I found out the Monday before our Saturday meal, I was on a mission. While I realize this may sound mocking, so help me I meant no disrespect whatsoever; on the contrary, I was truly honored. I felt as if I were a representative of all non-Amish people: a non-Amish ambassador if you will. I polled my friends and coworkers to find out the questions they’ve always wanted to ask Amish people, but didn’t have the opportunity to ask and created a (thankfully mental) list.

I even chose my most “Amish” outfit, opting to pack a very conservative floor-length floral sundress. (Yes, I know the Amish do not wear patterns, but it seemed close enough.) I nervously got dressed at the B&B, then went downstairs to ask Carolyn if I was dressed appropriately. “Oh yes, they know you’re not Amish, of course. And don’t worry: Unlike most Amish people, this particular family doesn’t think you’re damned to hell. They just don’t think your lifestyle is for them.” (That hadn’t even dawned on me, but I was relieved. Eating dinner with people who’d already decided I was damned to hell would seem like an uphill battle.)

When I was at Dos Caminos Soho a few days prior, my Aunt Karol suggested that―even though we were paying a $20 per person suggested donation―we were still going to someone’s home and, therefore, should not show up empty-handed. (Of course! Foolishly, I hadn’t thought of that, but she was absolutely right. See paragraph one.) So Jeff and I stopped at countless markets between our B&B in Hummelstown and the home of Jacob and Naomi King. But no luck! We were running out of time. I began to sweat. Would it be worse to come without flowers―and what else can you bring to the home of an Amish family? Certainly not wine―or to arrive late? We decided that punctuality was the priority.

To be continued…

Update: Read part two here.

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