Thou shalt have fries with that. Onion rings can be substituted, if available. But, by no means consider salad an acceptable side, and don’t forget to ask the waitress for ketchup. Thou shalt not call it tomato-y goodness.

Thou shalt speak plainly, which is preferred by those you encounter. Attempts at verbal ingenuity will spark a lingering resentment about what you might have meant, it probably being an insult of some sort, high and mighty wise ass you seem to think you are.

Thou may drop well-worn phrases, which folks round here have been using since they were knee high to a grasshopper.

Thou shalt not bring attention to the fact that you’re not from around here. Tug on thy flannel, smile, and take a warm-up on your coffee. Do not worry about the taste. Do not worry that it’s bad for the stomach, the nerves, the colon and prostate. Easy on the cream.

Thou shalt watch thy weight.

Thou shalt not begin thinking about supper before lunch. Thou shalt not eat the donuts Martha brings on Mondays. Thou shalt not purchase bear claws in the coffee shop around the corner. Thou shalt only nibble on boiled soy pods at home.

Thou may still have the occasional lunch here at the grill, turkey and coleslaw, extra mayo. Thou shalt talk much of the real bird they roast.

Damn, I’m hungry, you say.

That’s why we’re here, says Abe.

Thou shalt not fault Abe for spilling food down his shirt. Thou shalt not fault Abe for flirting with the waitress. Thou shalt not interrupt Abe’s discussion of his hobbies, which he holds important. Thou shalt not take offense when his eyes drift when you talk of home improvement.

Thou may cram that turkey in thy maw. Thou shalt tell the waitress more than twice that it’s the best damn turkey sandwich this side of Thanksgiving. Thou shalt not speak with thy mouth full.

Thou shalt accept how she clearly humors you. Do not, by any means, stare at the beckoning gap at the top of her shirt. Do not, sir, stare at her hindquarters when she retreats.

Thou might lust in thy heart, but thou shalt not leer. It’s just rude.

Thou probably should not lust in thy heart, either. Thou needs not such pointless frustration. Thou shouldst just enjoy the turkey. And the fries. Thou might want to get a glass of water to go with that coffee.

Thou shalt later call the doctor about thy plugging tallywhacker. At the very least, thou shall google herbal remedies renowned for freeing the water of indigenous dwellers in the Amazon.

Thou shalt not let said Google search lead thou to the tweets of Ashton Kutcher or movies of dancing gerbils.

Thou shalt not, whilst on the computer, open e-mails that beg for your aid of a deposed African Prince. Nor shall thou do anything but delete e-mails promising to deliver to thee online pain pills, at cost, or boost thy stamina in the boodwahr (sic).

Thou shalt focus on the fries and, after that, the pickle.

Thou shalt accept the diet soda delivered instead of water. Do not drink with a straw, or, at the very least, do not slurp. Thou shalt, that is, do as thy say to thy children, even if they’re not here to see.

Thou shalt be patient with said children.

Thou shalt not get annoyed at the boy’s love of TV.

Thou shalt not fuss because the girl jumps on the sofa.

Thou shalt, in other words, chill out.

Perhaps thou shalt best chill outside whilst shoveling the drive, the walks, and the porch. Thou shalt lay down salt. Thou shalt not panic at the mounds of snow shrinking thy driveway. The temperature will soon rise. The snow shall soon melt.

The snow shall soon melt.

Thy basement will soon flood.

Thou shalt not forget to call the plumber about the sump pump.

Thou hadst better first walk the damn dog. Thou needst not more pee on the rug.

Thou shalt not ever again succumb to pleas for a dog. Thou shalt not. THOU SHALT NOT.

Thou wilst.

Above all, be honest with thyself.

And useth the treadmill before bed. Perhaps, then, thou shalt convince thy wife to know thee, even though it is a weekday.

If the wife is exhausted, she may suggest that thou go know thyself.

If so, thou shalt not take offense.

Rather, as they say, count thy blessings, dude.

Thou hath thy health, as they say around here. Thou hath family, and friends. And thou still hath some of thy turkey sandwich.

Can’t sweat the small stuff, you say to Abe.

What, he asks back.

Can’t sweat the small stuff, you say to the waitress, when she walks past.

She says, You know it, honey.

Thou shalt grin at Abe.

Thou shouldn’t have the last couple fries, but thou will. Thou shalt use them to sponge up the last of the ketchup and sprinkles of salt. Thou shalt lick thy fingers. Do this as subtly as possible. Thou shalt stretch and make stretching noises and look around to see that the Grill has not one empty table.

Thou shalt feel guilty about the line of people waiting to sit down.

Thou shalt not let this rush you. Thou needst a minute to digest. Thy soda must be drunk.

Thou shalt look around again and consider growing a beard. Thou art too old for a tattoo or earrings. But thou canst do facial hair, which will match the flannel.

Thou shouldst hit the can and go.

It is thy turn to pick up the check, so thou shalt.

Thou shalt see Abe here in a week, and in the week after, and the week after, for all weeks to come, forever and ever, or until one of you kicks it.

Till then, you say.

And he says, Yup.