The Mean Streets of Miami

The Mean Streets of Miami

 

As the song so eloquently goes:

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
Miami, uh, uh
Southbeach, bringin’ the heat, uh
Haha, can y’all feel that
Can y’all feel that
Jig it out, uh

Okaaaay, so Will Smith isn’t exactly Chaucer.  But we’ve decided to tack a couple of days onto Spring break and head for Miami, where VP has some meetings scheduled. I’m excited to visit a city with such a rich history.

That is, I assume it has a rich history. I have not researched Miami. My knowledge is limited to the one Will Smith song, plus Bugs Bunny popping out of his hole with a beach chair and umbrella, yelling, “Miami Beach at last!” Also that to get there you are supposed to turn left at Albuquerque.   Note: I probably should have researched it.

Take traffic, for example. A bit of research would have yielded the fact that every single driver in Miami is not at the pool or beach and is therefore angry and wants you dead. 

Water so clear you can see to the bottom
Hundred thousand dollar cars, e’ybody got ‘em

Well, not e’body,  Will Smith. After escaping the jaws of death on the highway, we arrive at the hotel. It is oceanside. It is fancy.  The cars in front are shiny and foreign. We, on the other hand are driving a ten year old mini-van that spills leftover Easter candy out the back the minute I open the trunk for the bellhop.  Jelly beans and chocolate eggs ping all over the driveway like a sticky pastel hailstorm. As I attempt to scoop up the errant candy, I see the bellhop’s gaze drift to the trash bags into which VP had stuffed the last load of clean laundry as we went out the door.

Yes, sir, nothing says class like using garbage bags for luggage. Cue banjo music.

I’m not sure how you say “Beverly Hillbillies” in Spanish but I have a suspicion that’s what the bellhop is muttering as walks away quickly, taking his cart with him. We are on our own.

Undaunted, we head for the front desk. Due to VP’s business travel he has some sort of Double Secret Plutonium Status, so we can always count on a room upgrade.  Which is important for a family of five, lest someone have to sleep in the bathtub.  But the front desk Nazi didn’t get that memo, and tells VP, “No upgrades.” Ditto when he asks if we can have a rollaway. “No,” she barks.

Something has gone terribly wrong.  First off, we have apparently forgotten to “bring the heat”. I mean, I thought my husband brought the heat, and he was positive I had grabbed it before we left the house, you know how that goes.  Also I’m not sure what “jig” means, except as it relates to cheerful leprechauns. And we definitely hadn’t peppered our room request with enough “Uh, uh’s” and “yeah, yeah’s”.   Or any, for that matter.

But we soldier on. After we stow our mélange of luggage -n- trash bags in our wee li’l room (by the size of it, it looks as if Keebler Elves are a big demographic for this particular hotel chain), it’s time for lunch.

VP decides we should go to a famous hotel he has heard about.  Apparently Frank Sinatra used to stay there. As you do, I make sure my son has on a collared shirt and that all of the children have their hair combed. I’m picturing white linen table cloths, and sipping iced tea with a view of the ocean.  Perhaps some tinkling piano music playing in the background. The hotel is called the Fontainebleau. I’ve never heard of it, but it must be fancy because it has a French name that you have to say with a cheesy French accent. (It’s like a law or something.) On the walk over, I start to worry that we are underdressed.  Again, a bit of research would have helped.

Because I soon discover that we’re overdressed in that we’re wearing clothes. The restaurant is between the pool and the ocean, so to get there we have to wade through six security guards, a record company party, and a sea of white cabanas, poolside beds, thong bikinis and stilettos.  I cannot hear over the pounding techno music. The clientele is more Kim Kardashian than Ava Gardner; plus it looks like someone accidentally fed Justin Bieber and his entourage after midnight, and now they have multiplied and are all bobbing around in the pool like some sort of baggy-pantsed evil mogwai.   In our preppy attire, we stand out like Mennonites at a rave. And my children just look frightened. 

So we sip a little somethin’, lay to rest the spill
Me an’ Charlie at the bar runnin up a high bill

VP goes to get drinks from the bar, and our hostess points us to a white faux-leather banquette where we can sit while we wait for the table. My eyes dart back and forth between the thong bikini clad patrons of the restaurant  and the leather banquette and I wonder if it would be prudent to request a bottle of bleach spray before we sit down.

"Sure, I may have to take out a second mortgage on the house, but this margarita is totally worth it."

“Sure, I may have to take out a second mortgage on the house, but this margarita is totally worth it.”

Right when our table is ready, VP returns with our drinks, a Margarita for me and a Mojito for him.   Then he leans in to me and whispers the words every woman wants to hear.

“You’re not gonna believe how much these drinks cost.”

“Um, how much?” I ask, though I suspect I don’t want to know. He mumbles something that is hard to hear over the ear splitting techno music.

“What’d you say? Fifteen? Well, that doesn’t seem so bad for…”

But he interrupts me. “Fifty! I said Fifty!”

Fifty dollars for two drinks. Who knew Will Smith was practically a prophet? Sure, they are sizable. Sure, at this place Patron is  considered bottom shelf. But even so, sheesh. I make sure to drink every last drop.

But all is not lost. Because it turns out when it’s five hundred degrees out, you know what’s awesome? Taking a loooonnnng afternoon nap in the air conditioning, and who cares about the size of the room after you’ve consumed a Margarita the size of a Big Gulp?

Now that’s more my speed. I like to think Bugs Bunny would be proud.  Bienvenido a Miami, indeed, Mr. Will Smith.

No Breakfast for You!

My girls Alice, Vera, and Flo would never have let this happen. Preach it Flo!

See, my girls Alice, Vera, and Flo would never have let this happen. Preach it, Flo!

 

Let me start by saying I haven’t yet used this blog as a forum to complain about lousy customer service. That ends now, people. Because today I’m ranting. Because I tried to go out to breakfast with my daughters, and it turned into a really bad, not funny episode of Seinfeld.

This weekend my daughters and I drove to Lexington Kentucky for the Taylor Swift concert.  Great show, the girls loved it. I loved it. Blah blah blah.  (Taylor, dear, if you happen to be reading this, I have one thing to say to you: Please eat something.  Right now. Child, you are way too thin. I suggest fried chicken and mashed potatoes.)

So, the plan was to stay overnight in a hotel, get up in the morning, grab breakfast, and then get on the road for home. Magpie had a soccer game in the afternoon that she didn’t want to miss. I figured with an hour and a half to drive home, we would be fine getting on the road by 11:30.

Did I do my homework and find an awesome breakfast spot, which served fresh locally sourced food, and got rave reviews? Of course I did. I am me, after all. I love a big breakfast, and a restaurant that specializes in breakfast, with a great menu? I’m all over it.

So we arrived at about 10:30 to see a lot of people waiting. I asked the hostess how long the wait would be for a table. “About twenty-five minutes”, she said, not smiling. So I gave her our name, and stepped about five feet away from the counter in the tiny, crowded waiting area to wait with my girls for our table.

We perused the chalkboard menu, practically salivating at the offerings. The girls were excited. I was excited.

And we waited. And waited some more. And got hungrier. Group after group was called, and the crowd began to thin. Finally, at about 11:10, since it had now been about 40 minutes, I stepped up to the counter to inquire where we were on the list, as I had seen a few other people do.   “I was just wondering where we are on the list for a table,” I asked politely, making sure to smile and be friendly because this poor girl was probably having a rough morning with this large of a crowd.

She looked at me for a beat. “What’s the name?” She asked. I told her, and she glanced down at her list.

“There are two people ahead of you,” she said flatly. Sensing a weird vibe, but telling myself I was being paranoid, I thanked her and stepped back to our waiting spot, my ears perked up to listen for our name. We would have to eat really fast to make it home for the game, but it was still doable.

A few minutes later, she called, “Robertson!” and they got their table. And then “Williams!” and they got their table. We should have been next. But no. That was followed by “Peterson!” and then “Brandenburg!” then “Reeves!”  And then some more names. Another twenty minutes went by, so I approached her again.

“Um, I was just checking again to see where we are on the list?” I said, again politely, thinking that maybe she was just waiting for a spot for three to open up.

So image my shock when she looked right at me and said, “I called you, you weren’t here.”

Now, folks, I was done being polite. And I was certainly no longer smiling.

“But, you never called our name. We have been standing here the whole time! We would have heard you!” I protested.

“Yes I did. I called your name twice inside, and then I even went outside and called your name twice. You weren’t here.”

“I don’t understand this! We have been waiting here for an hour. Right here.  Five feet from the desk. We never left! And you absolutely never called our name!”

She didn’t say anything, so I tried again. “Twenty minutes ago you told me there were two people ahead of us. I stood right here after that and listened for our name. We didn’t go anywhere. Please. We’ve been waiting for an hour.”

She shrugged her shoulders, and looked at me with a level gaze. A gaze that clearly said, “I win. You lose.” And I realized that she had no intention of giving us a table. At all. Ever. Perhaps she never did.

Despite my desire to stand there and pitch a fit, I had no choice but to grab my children and leave in frustration. It was 11:30, the time that we needed to be on the road home in order to make it back in time for the soccer game. My children were starving by this point, and we damn sure weren’t going to get served there. The sign I spotted over the counter said it all: “Be Nice or Leave.” I knew instantly that in that place, the power was given to the employees, and that arguing would be futile.

“Mom, she never called our name,” Lucy said sadly as we crossed the parking lot. “Why did she do that?”

“I don’t know, honey. I just don’t know,” I said quietly.

Did she accidently cross our name off, and not want to admit her mistake? Did the power of tapping her little wand and granting tables at one of the most popular restauranst in town go to her head? Did she cross our name off on purpose because she didn’t like my shoes? Or maybe she doesn’t like children? I don’t know. I’ll never know.

I get that being the hostess in a crowded breakfast place is a hard job. I get that there are probably a lot of jerks that come in there and misbehave. I get that “The Customer is Always Right” doesn’t need to apply when the customer is acting rude, and I certainly appreciate an employer who will back up his employees in those situations. I always think of that scene in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” when the guy got fired for refusing  to accomodate the rudest customer ever. But, you guys? We were none of those things. It appears that this hostess just took an arbitrary dislike to my little family of northerners. No soup for you!

The good news is we found a delightful bakery a few minutes away, called Spalding’s, with fantastic fresh yeast doughnuts hot out of the fryer, and the nicest man with twinkling blue eyes behind the cash register. The girls happily munched on their doughnuts as we sped north, putting Lexington and the rudest most dishonest hostess I have ever encountered far behind us.

I debated even saying the name of the restaurant in this post. Truly, I don’t want them to get the publicity that would come from mentioning their name. Should I? Should I not?

Oh, what the hell.

So, Doodles in Lexington? Hear me now. That was the worst, most humiliating customer service experience I have ever had in my life, and y’all, I’ve been to the DMV in Washington DC, so that’s saying something. Your hostess made me and my two young children wait an hour for breakfast, then blatantly lied to my face, and refused to seat us. Didn’t even apologize. I have never been treated that way at any restaurant in my entire life.

Your food may be just fine, I don’t know. I’ll never find out. I will never, ever, come back to your restaurant again. It’s just not worth the humiliation of feeling and looking helpless in front of my children. And, I have a blog, and twitter. And I will make sure to tell anyone I know who is heading to Lexington to stay far away from your restaurant.

Because hell hath no fury like a mother who can’t get breakfast for her kids.

 

The Bagel from Hell

 

It's a bagel, not quantum physics.

It’s a bagel, not quantum physics.

 

Scene: Hotel, spring break.  Continental breakfast bar. 8:00 a.m. I haven’t yet had coffee.  This fact is important.

Five: Can I have a bagel?

Me: Of course you can.

Five: I don’t know where the bagels are.

Me: I’ll come with you and help you find them.

I get up to search the breakfast bar.

Me: Oh, look, here they are.

Five: That has seeds all over it. I don’t want it.

Me: That’s the only kind they have. They’re just sesame seeds. If you want a bagel, that’s your only choice.

Five: Okay. I’ll have it.

Me: It’s really big. How about you just have half?

I glance around for a knife. Meanwhile, the line behind us grows longer. The person next in line offers his knife.

Using an elaborate system of tongs and butter knife, I attempt to remove half of the bagel without touching it so it doesn’t go to waste, while the line of impatient breakfast eaters behind grows even longer. Finally successful, I am unsure what to do with the guy’s knife. I attempt to hand it back to him but now he looks at the knife like it is carrying the Black Death  so I put it down.

Five carries the  bagel to the table. Sits down. And then…

Five: Can I get it toasted? I want it toasted, Mom.

Me: Yes, you can toast it.

Five: But, I don’t know where the toaster is!

I point out the toaster, and he goes off to toast his bagel.

A minute later, he is back, looking glum.

Five:  Mom, I don’t know how to use that toaster.

Husband gets up to help him toast the bagel. They come back in a few minutes. Victory! Oh, wait…

Five:Mom, I want butter on my bagel!

At this point I’m growing slightly impatient with the whole process of the bagel. This next bit may have been said with clenched teeth, but I’m not sure.)

Me: Then. Go. Get. Butter.

He goes to get butter, comes back. Attempts to put butter on bagel unsuccessfully.

Five: Mom, I can’t spread this butter!

I reach over and put the butter on the bagel. Kid settles in to eat buttered, toasted bagel. Happy, he swings his feet while he chews.

One minute and two bites later:

Five: Mom, I don’t want this anymore.

Aaaaand, scene.

 

Happy Spring Break, everyone! May your week be sunny, or at least less complicated than a kindergartener ordering breakfast.

Maybe He Was Waiting for the Throw Up Fairies

 

"Psst... so you know, when you get home from this business trip I'm leaving for Hawaii for two weeks."

“Psst… so you know, when you get home from this business trip I’m leaving for Hawaii for two weeks.”

Hi. You might want to finish whatever you’re eating before you read this. That looks delicious, by the way.

All set? Good. As a blogger, sometimes I am stuck for ideas in terms of what to write about. And sometimes, like last night? The posts practically write themselves.

The VP has been out of town on business, and by last night I felt wrung out. So to try to make things easier, instead of cooking I took the kids to a Chinese restaurant to get take-out. Because when he’s away, I am all about making my path easier. So far so good, right?

But… while I was paying, my five year old son came running up to me with tears streaming down his face. When I asked him what was wrong,  he said he had choked on a piece of candy.

Unbeknownst to me, he had grabbed a peppermint out of the dish while on his way over to look at the fish in the tank. He’s not supposed to eat hard candies, due to his horrific gag reflex that, on a regular basis,  makes me think he’s going to choke to death. One of my biggest fears, but I digress.

He was talking, which I knew meant he wasn’t in imminent danger, but he was still crying and saying “It’s still in there!” and was in a panic, and I didn’t really know what was going on. I tried to figure out how to help him while comforting him at the same time, because he was really upset, when all of a sudden, his eyes got wide and this happened:

Blaaaaaaaaaaarrrrgghhhhh!”

Yep. The kid upchucked all over the carpet.

Not a little bit. A lot. As in, the entire contents of his stomach. Oh, hello, gag reflex. Nice to see you too.

So now I was trying to comfort my son while apologizing to the manager for the copious pile of barf he had just deposited. And the unholy mess was right in front of the door to the restaurant. I was concerned for my son, and now I was dreadfully embarrassed. I of course offered to clean up the throw-up. As you do.

The manager said no. He was very polite about it. “No, no. That’s okay. Don’t worry about it”, he said, smiling.

My son was starting to feel better. The nice manager brought him some water.

And the vomit still sat in the entryway.

Again I offered to clean it up, and again the manager said no, and waved it off.

Surely if the manager wasn’t going to let me clean it up,  that meant he was planning on doing it, right? He was going to run get some of that sawdust stuff like they use in schools, or maybe some carpet cleaner? Some paper towels? Anything?

No. The vomit continued to sit right where my son left it. Was the guy waiting for fairies to come clean it up?

Customers came in, and I held my son with one arm while I weakly gestured toward the mess with the other, indicating that they should go around. I didn’t feel comfortable articulating it, though. I’m pretty sure no one wants to hear “Hey! Watch out for the vomit!” when they arrive at a restaurant for dinner.

Mmm. Who wants egg-drop soup?

My son was  feeling better, even giggling with his sister, and we should have been leaving, but I just couldn’t. There had to be something I could do, so I started surreptitiously checking the counter and our bag of take-out for napkins. But there was nothing.

The vomit was still in the entryway. At this point it had been almost ten minutes.

And the manager just continued to sit behind the desk, smiling beatifically.

I tried one more time. “Are you sure you don’t want me to take care of this? If you can just bring me a rag or some napkins, I can clean it up…”

And then the manager said this:

“No, no. You don’t have to clean it. They clean every night when we close.” And he smiled some more.

Um, what?

I pray that I am wrong, but it sounded to me like the vomit was going to stay in the entryway for the next four hours, until the cleaning crew took care of it.

In the end, we finally left, leaving an unfortunate pile of throw-up in the doorway during the dinner rush.

The good news is, my son is fine. He’s not allowed to eat peppermints until he’s 21, but he’s fine. And I still can’t figure out why the guy wouldn’t let me clean it up, or didn’t clean it up himself.

So to anyone who lives in our area and might have gone out for Chinese food last night:  my sincerest apologies. It was us. I hope it didn’t get on your shoes. And from now on I promise I’m keeping a roll of paper towels and a bottle of carpet cleaner in the car.

If you liked this post, please consider voting for me for Blogger Idol! Voting is now live, and runs through 10/31 at 12:00 am CST. I’m in the top 8, but I need your support if I am going to remain in the competition for another week. Thank you!

Notes from the Shallow End

 

Oh My God We Almost Killed Dad

Note: This particular inauguration wasn't the same one. This was Warren G. Hardings, and I didn't even vote for him. Duh!

Note: This particular inauguration wasn’t the same one. This was Warren G. Harding’s, and I didn’t even vote for him. Duh!

Everyone should try to attend a presidential inauguration at some point in their lives. I highly recommend it. What I don’t recommend is almost accidentally killing your dad in the process. That really does put a damper on the inaugural festivities, it turns out.

Years ago, before kids, my husband and I were living in our snug little row house on Capitol Hill. We loved the city, loved having visitors.  Now, my dad isn’t a fan of big cities, or airplane travel. He prefers small towns, and likes to drive to his destination if he can. So though my mom had been to Washington DC numerous times to visit us, he hadn’t made it yet.

But one year we were able to get tickets to the inauguration, and that did it.  My parents booked their airplane tickets, and we cleaned and fixed up the guest room. Since this was my dad’s first visit, I wanted everything to be perfect. I chuckle now at my naiveté.

A bit of not so subtle foreshadowing there. See how I did that? Oh yeah, stick with me.

When we picked them up at the airport, I knew something was wrong right away. My father was ashen, and very, very quiet. It turned out that just prior to the trip he had come down with a very painful, albeit temporary, medical condition that made walking and standing difficult. Determined, he boarded the plane anyway. Because he’s tough as nails. Anyone else would have bailed out under those circumstances. Not my dad. 

So here was my  dad, having  gotten on an airplane and come to a large bustling city which he had always thought of as crime ridden (okay, it did have a reputation for a while there as the Murder Capital of the U.S.A., but, really wasn’t that bad any more! No, really!)  and in terrible pain despite being on some very strong medication, of the sort that you hear about people robbing their sweet old grandmothers to get.

So not only was he in pain but he was, to put it mildly, zonked out of his mind.

Great.

The morning of the inauguration, we awoke to freezing temperatures and sleet. Keeping score at home? Good.  Raise your hand if you think this sounds like fun! Right.  Didn’t think so.

Despite living within walking distance of the Capitol, we decided to drive there because of the pain my dad was in. So we got as close as possible, but due to tight security we were still a couple of blocks away. And then, we noticed our tickets were for “Mall Standing Area”. To the uninitiated, basically this means we were in the nosebleed section for the inauguration, and needed binoculars or maybe satellite to locate the President when he finally came out. I mean, we were practically watching the inauguration from Virginia. That’s how far back we were.

So I had to see the disappointment on my dad’s face when, after painfully hobbling for what seemed like forever, he saw where we actually had to stand. He was a big campaign supporter, and understandably felt like he should have at least been able to sit down. And maybe, you know, see something.

My dad stood there for a while in the freezing rain, practically in another zip code from the Capitol, looking more and more bummed out as he took in the circumstances. He was mostly just really, really quiet and I felt really, really awful. Awful for the pain he was in; awful that I couldn’t have gotten him a better ticket do he could sit down, awful about the weather which certainly wasn’t helping.

At some point, my dad asked my husband for the car keys. He said that he was going to start walking back toward the car, because he really couldn’t stand up any more due to the pain. Since the walk would take him past the Capitol Building, and thus closer to the action of the inauguration, my husband handed him the keys.

That’s right, in a  crowd of approximately a gajillion people (rough estimate), we handed a set of car keys to my pain medication addled father, pointed him eastward on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, where one wrong turn can land you in a world of trouble, and bid him adieu. In hindsight, it wasn’t the brightest thing we’ve ever done.

After the inauguration concluded about 45 minutes later, the rest of us started wading through the crowd, heading toward the car. And of course we arrived at the car to find… no one. The car was empty. My father was nowhere in sight.

With panic rising, we concluded that he must have somehow changed his mind, and walked home. Remember, we had given my dad the keys to the car, so we had no choice but to walk back to the house. And of course we got back to the house, to find him NOT THERE EITHER.

We had literally lost my father on Capitol Hill.

Did I mention the house keys were with the car keys? Yep, we were locked out of the house.  Thankfully, the neighbors were home, and we were able to borrow a coat hanger from them, which we then used to reach through the mail slot and unlock the deadbolt.

Still hanging on to a shred of optimism, we thought maybe he was upstairs asleep. Alas, he was not.

Now in full panic mode, we pondered what to do. The obvious conclusion was to start calling the police and local hospitals. That’s right, on the day of the inauguration when you can’t wipe your nose in Washington DC because security is so tight and all law enforcement and emergency personnel  are on Presidential standby, we were calling them asking the whereabouts of a “guy, in his 60s,about 5’11”, L.L. Bean coat? Snappy dresser? No? Haven’t picked him up? Okay, thanks. Can I leave my number just in case you… Hello? Hello? ”

While my mother and I were calling hospitals and law enforcement and getting nowhere, picturing all sorts of bad things (okay, mostly mugging),  my husband was walking back to the car with his extra set of keys, and a hunch.  And lo and behold, what did he find?

My father, sitting in the car, safe and sound.  With the air conditioner running.

Not his fault.  He was trying to turn the heat on, and he didn’t realize the heat in my husband’s car wasn’t working at the time. It turns out that when he left us, he didn’t go back to the car right away after all. We still aren’t sure where he was all that time, but the end result was we beat him back to the car, and so by the time he actually arrived at the car we were long gone. When my husband finally found him, he was sitting in the passenger seat, freezing, trying in vain to warm up the car, and looking glum.

My dad’s  conclusion? It wasn’t him who was misplaced, it was us. And he couldn’t understand why we were worried, because he was JUST FINE.

And maybe he was. Or maybe the muggers who like a nice of a pair of loafers or a tweed cap stayed home with hot cocoa that day. Or maybe my dad’s stern “Tommy Lee Jones at the Golden Globes” persona which he can turn on at will scared them all off.

So my husband brought him back to the house, and we thawed him out. Needless to say, we skipped the Inaugural parade. Dad was none the worse for wear, and he was actually feeling fine by the evening so we were able to go out to dinner. Despite pain, disappointment, near hypothermia, and possible aimless incoherent wandering through iffy areas which we were never able to prove, he managed to have a good time. And I think by the time he left he wasn’t thinking that DC was such an awful place.

Maybe. Or maybe he was just glad that he lived through it.

Chapter 2: In Which Some Bad Things Happen, Plus Some Good Things

Afternoon Readers!

When we last left off, my clever plan to feed my kids concession-stand fare in lieu of cooking dinner had been foiled due to a thunderstorm. I now present to you  the rest of our ill-fated evening, this time in handy Good/Bad format.

Bad: Arrive at restaurant to find that the rest of the Tri-state area has apparently had the same idea as me, as there are no parking places to be found. Who thought this was a good idea again? Oh, right, it was me. Ahem. There is much whining and grumbling from the back seat.

Good: After circling the parking lot six times, magically a space opens up right in front of the restaurant. I take this as a sign I made the right decision! See kids? Look how great this is! Look how chipper I am!

Bad: After putting our name in, the hostess cheerfully informs us that it will be a TWO HOUR wait for a table, and hands me a pager.

I’ll pause here to let that sink in. She is telling me it will be approximately 10:00 by the time we even get seated. That obviously is NOT GONNA HAPPEN. These are kids, y’all. Some of you may be wondering why I don’t, at this point, about-face and head for the nearest drive-through. Short answer: My kids don’t like fast food. (What I can’t answer is why they will deign to eat concession stand food, which is much worse. My kids are odd.)

Figuring maybe we will luck out, I decide we can wait about twenty minutes. I begin formulating a Plan B, which involves scrambled eggs and toast at home. Meanwhile, my kids are piled in a heap in front of a funhouse-style mirror. While watching their reflections squoosh into weird shapes, they have temporarily forgotten their hunger pangs and threats to call Child Services.

Good: After only two minutes, the pager buzzes. Perplexed, I approach the hostess stand, figuring there must be a mistake.

Reading my quizzical look, the hostess puts her finger to her lips and gives a subtle shake of the head, but reaches out and takes the pager from me. I’m not sure what is going on, but sure, I’ll play along. At this point what choice do I have?  A gentleman approaches, points to us, and says, “Johnson? Party of four?” Oh. (Sound of other shoe dropping). I start to tell him that isn’t our name, but only get out, “That’s not…” before the hostess interrupts me.  “Yes, yes, that’s them,” she says, shooing us into the dining room.

Readers, I’m still not sure what happened. Probably another party of four took their name off the list, so she took pity on me and my pathetic mewling pile of children and put us in their spot. Regardless, it is an incredible act of kindness.

Also Good: The service is super quick and cheerful, plus our waitress has pink hair. Which always helps.

Bad: In the middle of our meal, a shoe comes flying across the restaurant and lands in the middle of my daughter’s plate. The people who possess the shoe flinging- child are apologetic, and my daughter promptly receives a new plate. So all in all? Could be worse.

Good: Our waitress, she of the Beauty School Dropout-hued locks, is great about making sure my ice water is always topped off, even toward the end of the meal.

Bad: While handing me the check, Pinky Tuscadero accidentally knocks said full-to-the-top ice water all over me and my five year old, who at this point is sleeping on my lap.

Imagine poking a sleeping bear with a stick, then dumping ice water on him, then trying to stuff him in a car and drive him home. Yes, it went that well.

But on the plus side, it makes for a great story, and I’m all about a great story. Now, where will we go next week? I know, let’s try a 4 star French restaurant! They just love kids at those places.