“Do you have a booth?”
“Sure!” beamed the friendly young hostess last night. He gathered three menus, one for myself, Aunt Krissy and Nanny, two children’s for you two, and beckoned us to follow him. However as we snaked through clusters of tables at T.G.I.Friday’s., he turned and changed his tune. “Uh, actually, no booths.”–Which I thought was odd, because we were passing plenty that were empty.–“I have a table…here.”
Once I saw “here,” I knew why.
We were in the way, way, waaaaaay back-corner of the restaurant. Away from everyone else except for one other family seated with four children ranging from teenager to baby. We were secluded so you guys could be loud and throw food without disturbing the rest of the public not there with children who were actually trying to sit down, use silverware, and eat food without getting hit in the face by flying pizza. (*What happens when you throw a slice at a window? Thanks to you, Baby Boy, we now know! It makes a splatting noise, sticks the glass for a second, then slides down leaving a triangle and a streak of grease in its wake like a snail’s.) The big windows by this table overlooked Northern Boulevard, which would be great for you guys to watch all the cars. And there was room for you to run around should I not be able to corral you into chairs. The spot was perfect.
“Ah,” I teased, “We’re in the VIP section.”
The kid smiled awkwardly, as people around my humor often do.
…With so much to look at, you guys wanted no part of sitting in chairs, especially high chairs with, horrors, straps.
I looked over at the one family seated by us. At a little boy around your age sitting nicely strapped into a high chair, flapping his feet.
You guys were wild. Pointing at cars. WHOAH!!!
At lights. WHOAH!!!
At all of the kitschy paraphernalia around the restaurant. WHOAH!!! Especially, a figurine of an astronaut next to a disco ball nestled in an upper corner. WHOOOOOOAH!
When a waitress came to the table to take drink orders, no one was there. Aunt Krissy and I were still trying to coax you to sit down. Nanny was standing reading a menu. I felt bad and said to her, “Ma, sit, please.” Finally, with the help of an iPad, an old itouch, two books, Nanny’s phone, crayons and a prime seat with full disco-astronaut view, we got you in.
I looked over at the other family, no one moved.
We were exhausted.
And dinner hadn’t even begun.
During the meal we were so loud.
Every few minutes, Baby Boy, you’d look up and point to the astronaut as if it had just landed there.
And Nanny would look up and point, WHOAH!
This became cyclic, like a tidal wave at a water park.
–“Okay here it comes…wait for it…cue the boy looking up at the astronaut…WHOAH!!!”–
Leaving the restaurant was as equally strenuous as sitting down. The retrieving. The gathering. The trying to make the total destruction under the table not look so bad. The chewed up food bits. The silverware. The crumbled napkins. The crayons. The shoe.
(In the end, we surrender and leave a big tip.)
On our way out we passed the other family, carrying you guys sideways as if we had just plucked you from a house fire and run, and they were leisurely enjoying dessert.
Their table was spotless.
The parents were ordering another round of big pink drinks.
I thought of my full glass of pinot grigio sitting on the table from which I’d snuck one sip. (Albeit, a big one.)
In a vestibule before exiting I leaned in to whisper to Aunt Krissy and Nanny, whose dinner experience we’d just destroyed (you two gavones even ate all of their food), “boy, did you see that other table? They were so quiet and good, there was no food on the floor, nobody moved…”
They looked at each other then turned to me and said, “Yeah, but it didn’t look like they were having any fun.”
And we fell out into the night and headed toward our cars indeed having a rollicking good time.