Friday Food and Drink Post: Restaurant Memories

 

Ah, but not in the way you’re thinking, although I’d love to hear about the most expensive/best/worst meal you’ve ever eaten when you were dining out. Remember that? I do, and I miss it, even though my family’s endeavors in that area rarely approached the exorbitant, the world-class, or even the gourmet. (One startling exception was the lunch that Dad and my siblings enjoyed at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, on one of my infrequent jaunts home. A member of our party was employed there, so we enjoyed a small discount, but even so, I think the damage for lunch was more than a fortnight’s take-home pay at the time. You’ll get the idea, if you browse the website, and you’ll also see what an absolutely lovely venue it is.)

No, I’d just as soon be replete from a meal at Shorty’s Lunch on West Chestnut Street, in Washington, PA, where two people can still eat their fill for under $10 the pair. Alas, part of the experience at Shorty’s is also that of the venue itself–in this case, 1930s diner and the grease that goes with it. The above Wikipedia link quotes Rick Sebak, a local documentarian (who, as it happens, I was at high school with), saying, “There’s no other place like it. They haven’t changed a thing in there since the place opened in the late 1930s. That’s what’s great about Shorty’s. It has a high funk factor.” True dat. In these COVID-19 days of “takeout only,” it’s clear that something is missing in the deal. Still good hot dogs, though. (They’re from Alberts, @phcheese. I’m guessing you know about Shorty’s.)

But (please observe that nothing comes before “but”) today I’m thinking about embarrassing incidents that have stamped certain restaurant experiences firmly on your heart or in your brain. I’ll go first and relate three, none of which is supremely awful–I’d have to include experiences of dining out with my mother in order for that to be the case, and I can’t quite go there right now–but which, reflected in tranquility, cause me to miss the people involved, or the life-stage that they were at when they happened. Ready?

First: Dad, my sister, her friend and I went out for a Balti in Birmingham one day. I should think it was in 2004 or 2005. For those not familiar, a “balti” is a curry (choose your heat level) served in a metal bowl, with a separate bowl of rice, and a stack of fresh naan bread, in what Americans would call “family style”–you dole out your own portions at the table from the large bowls each is served in. It’s almost like a curry “stir fry.” (No idea how culturally appropriative, or not, this is, or how authentic, but they’re very popular in the UK. @zafar.)

So, there we were. A noisy, cramped little place, full of Indians, Pakistanis, Brits, apparently of all ethnic persuasions, and us. And a charming server attempting to ascertain what we’d like in in the curry. We ticked off all the things we enjoyed (fortunately, we were all fond of plenty of heat), until we got to okra.

This stopped Dad (who was in his 80s at the time) in his tracks.  “Okra!” he exclaimed. Marvelous stuff! RAGING APHRODISIAC!!!”

Suddenly, it got very quiet. My sister, her friend, and I developed a new interest in studying our menus. Dad finished ordering. (There was plenty of okra.)

Second: On what may have been the same trip to Britain, we organized a family get-together, including Auntie Pat (early 80s), Uncle Arthur (late 90s) several cousins, my brother, and the self-same sister, Dad, and me. We held our little celebration at the Peacock Inn in Worcestershire, a conveniently central location, and a lovely place. As usual, we were doing our family thing, loudly, with everyone talking at once and almost no-one listening to anyone else. Auntie Pat, a primary-school teacher (5-6 years old) for over 40 years, excels at this sort of thing, and since she has a particularly distinctive voice, it’s easy to pick her out, even amid the general racket we all make.

A lovely lady who must have been in her early 50s gingerly approached the table. “It’s Miss Muffett, isn’t it?” she asked, rather timidly.

She hadn’t seen Pat’s face, or heard Pat’s voice, since about 1960.

I think it’s the only time I’ve seen Pat at a loss for words in her life. (BTW, she was 97 last week, may she live forever. The “last made and latest left” of my Dad’s generation on his side of the family. Bonus point for identifying the slight misquotation from one of her favorite poems).

Third: This one took place in the good old US of A, at the Eat ‘n Park in Altoona, PA. Like Shorty’s, Eat ‘n Park is a local institution, a regional chain in parts of PA, OH, and WV. It started as a drive-in in the late 1940s, and also like Shorty’s, it maintains a loyal customer base. I regularly found myself the youngest person in the dining room when we took my mother-in-law out for a meal. “Where would you like to go?” we’d ask, and we’d list several alternatives ranging from the very nice to a bit special. “Umm.” she’d inevitably say. “Could we go to Eat ‘n Park?”

So when our granddaughter was born in 2008, you bet we took her to Eat ‘n Park, and told her about the good times we’d had as a family there over the decades. The waitresses remembered her and “Grandpa,” and she always felt among friends, as she enjoyed the kids’ mac ‘n cheese, accepted her free cookie, and scribbled all over the placemat with the crayons she was given.

And one day, when she was about two-and-a-half, she wanted to share a special accomplishment with her friends at Eat ‘n Park. I expect she (who has a fine sense of drama) thought about the best way to communicate her achievement as she ate her meal and drank her milk. And finally, the moment arrived! When she’d eaten her fill, she suddenly jumped up and put her feet on the faux-leather of the booth seat, turned herself to face the other customers, lifted her skirt up over her head, and shouted “I HAVE BIG GIRL PANTIES ON!”

All the old ladies and gentlemen in the room, and every member of the staff, dissolved in fits of laughter. Our granddaughter was very pleased with herself. And then we had ice cream.

That’s all I got.

You?

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  1. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    She: Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire

    I get the idea that it’s the kind of place, that, if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.

    • #1
  2. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I get the idea that that’s the kind of place, that, if you ask the price, you can’t afford it.

    Absolutely. It’s bonkers. I should think about 80 percent of the experience has nothing to do with the food. The portions are small but exquisitely presented, and the food is delicious. But all the pieces have to be present and fit together. It truly is an “experience” not a meal.

    • #2
  3. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    A delightful post, @She! Thank you.

    • #3
  4. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer
    @KirkianWanderer

    I think it was probably the most expensive meal I’ve ever had, but even if not it was the best. Last summer, I was taking two of my best friends from HS around Southeastern England and Paris for two weeks. During winter break, I asked them everything they wanted to do, and then combined that with the things that I love from my experience living and traveling in both places to create a down to the half hour itinerary. One thing that we all agreed we wanted to do (I will admit I in particular wanted to do this, because I’m more than a bit of a foodie and growing up in rural MA had to kind of provide my own entertainment in that sphere), was eat at a Michelin Starred restaurant. For months, I searched for one that had a stellar reputation, unique menu, open booking for our visit dates, and a decent price. I finally found La Table d’Eugene (too lazy to bother with accent marks today). The set menu was about €99, the upper limit of our price range. 

    Our second day in Paris was when I had booked the reservation, and we spent most of the morning and afternoon walking around the city doing the activities (museums, art galleries, etc) that I had planned. It was quite a fancy restaurant, and France, so I knew that my appearance as a woman needed to be impeccable or I was going to have to ignore a lot of unpleasant comments. I picked out an outfit far beforehand, and I had practiced doing my makeup 3 or 4 times (I never wear make up, so it was not a fun experience). The guys got a nap, and I got two hours showering, styling my hair, applying my face, and trying to cover a sunburn. It was fun to be dressed up like real grown-ups. The walk there was a bit of a disaster, because the legs of my jumpsuit were tailored deliberately to be longer than I am tall to create a stream lined look, so I was wearing 4 or 5 inch platform stilettos on cobbled streets. 

    From the second we were seated, though, it was magic. The waiter, Julien, was the perfect example of exceptional French service, the food was unbelievably creative and delicious (and there was bread between every course, with the best farmhouse butter), and the interior of the restaurant felt like another world. Just an etherial three hours. We went (well, I hobbled) to the Eiffel Tower after, and looked out on Paris at midnight, which only made it more perfect. I think the life lesson in that experience is that if you’re going to try something extraordinary, share it with friends, because it just serves to multiply the joy. 

    • #4
  5. Old Buckeye Inactive
    Old Buckeye
    @OldBuckeye

    @She, what great stories! Laughed out loud about the big girl panties. And I, too, had a very favorite Aunt Pat who also had a distinctive, cigarette-gravelly voice. She also was mostly deaf, so yeah…it was not only memorable, but loud. 

    A restaurant story: The night my husband and I announced our engagement at a family dinner out, my dad commenced to having a couple more beers than usual in celebration, and tongue properly loosened, he told multiple stories about how he and his brother would brawl as teens, when they’d “pop” some kid in a fight. That was the operative word. Forever after, my husband can’t resist teasing that he might have to pop me when I make a wisecrack. 

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    I took a date to the Pump Room at the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago. I barely remember the girl, but the tab is seared on my soul. So are the pictures on the wall.


    Bogie, ?, Bacall, Ernie Byfield (the owner).


    Carole Lombard and Clark Gable


    Judy and the kids.

    Then there’s The Berghoff.

    Get the creamed spinach.

    • #6
  7. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Wonderful memories, all, thanks.

    I’m reminded of my trip to Venice with a bunch of “girls” (we were in our 40s and 50s at the time). Went to Harry’s bar, beloved of Hemingway, Toscanini, Peggy Guggenheim, Jimmy Stewart and Truman Capote, among others. We went primarily for drinks, but I must have made such a sad and longing face when the folks at the next table got their dessert that the waiter brought me a serving of the same thing ‘on the house.’ I tipped him handsomely. (He was, too.) As was “Roberto” the lovely waiter at Cafe Florian in St. Mark’s Square.

    My favorite thing in Venice though, was getting up early with Jenny, riding on the vaporetti to go visit a rather ordinary little church with Titian’s on the wall and Bellini’s on the altar (the artist, not the drink), then stopping at one of the numerous food kiosks in the public squares for a loaf of bread, some sausage and cheese, and sitting on the side of the road eating it, watching the world go by.

    • #7
  8. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    For my birthday one year, my boss took me to Locke-Ober’s. Lobster and fresh spring peas. What a delight. There were two of us, and we had three waiters. :-) Awesome.

    The other poignant memory is a sad one. The Library Room at the Parker House hotel in Boston was the setting for the signing of many of the country’s important literary contracts. The editors of both Houghton Mifflin and Little, Brown visited that room of the restaurant whenever authors came to town and whenever there were contracts to celebrate. It was filled with first editions, leather couches, and gorgeous coffee tables. Deep red oriental rugs and old antique wall sconces for lights. When I was there, they served lunch from a buffet they had set up inside it. The history in that room was palpable. Then the Omni Hotels bought the hotel. They completely gutted the room and refurnished it with ugly glass and stainless steel. Ugh. Many tears were shed on Tremont and Park streets that fall.

    • #8
  9. PHCheese Member
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Yes I have been to Shorty’s many times over the years. Alberts (Green Valley) is the cleanest best run meat packing company I have ever been around and I have been around a bunch. George and his family are also among the finest people I have done business with or have ever known.

    I have hadsome great meals and I think the enjoyment is often in proportion to my hunger rather than the price. Often I have had a terrific meal in a place where I least expected it and visa a versa. Mrs. Cheese is a really good cook so I am spoiled. She is making Spaetzle tonight. Great post She.

    • #9
  10. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer
    @KirkianWanderer

    MarciN (View Comment):

    For my birthday one year, my boss took me to Locke-Ober’s. Lobster and fresh spring peas. What a delight. There were two of us, and we had three waiters. :-) Awesome.

    The other poignant memory is a sad one. The Library Room at the Parker House hotel in Boston was the setting for the signing of many of the country’s important literary contracts. The editors of both Houghton Mifflin and Little, Brown visited that room of the restaurant whenever authors came to town and whenever there were contracts to celebrate. It was filled with first editions, leather couches, and gorgeous coffee tables. Deep red oriental rugs and old antique wall sconces for lights. When I was there, they served lunch from a buffet they had set up inside it. The history in that room was palpable. Then the Omni Hotels bought the hotel. They completely gutted the room and refurnished it with ugly glass and stainless steel. Ugh. Many tears were shed on Tremont and Park streets that fall.

    Ah, you’re making me miss all the good seafood in MA! I think my dad did some work on the woodwork in the Parker House before it was gutted and redone. He was some type of independent contractor for a friend that had a boat building and contracting business (as best I remember, before I was born so I only know from stories he’s told after the fact). Refurbishment is equal only to boat building for his favorite type of project. I think it’s kind of cosmically appropriate that he found his best work resuscitating antique interiors and exteriors, and I became a historian; working with mind instead of body, but continuity in preservation.

    • #10
  11. PHCheese Member
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    One Saturday night after a day and night of playing pickup basketball when I was about 18, the guys started bragging about how many Big Boys they could eat at Eat-in Park. I ate five but lost to my best friend Bill who ate six and an order of fries for good measure. He was 6ft 5 and 250. Neither of us could jump the next day

    • #11
  12. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    She: Remember eating out?

    Sure. Just did it on Wednesday.

    • #12
  13. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    One Saturday night after a day and night of playing pickup basketball when I was about 18, the guys started bragging about how many Big Boys they could eat at Eat-in Park. I ate five but lost to my best friend Bill who ate six and an order of fries for good measure. He was 6ft 5 and 250. Neither of us could jump the next day

    Ouch.

    • #13
  14. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    She: You?

    I don’t have anything to rival those (although truth to tell some of my friends do, from being with me, but that’s not what this is about.)

    • #14
  15. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    I was in a bar once when Richard Petty came in.

    • #15
  16. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    One of my most memorable restaurants was one I don’t know the name of and don’t know if it still exists. (Google is amazing. It’s still there. Cafe TPT. Though they’ve branched out from seafood. And one item I would have there is no longer on the menu – shark fin’s soup.) It was a hole in the wall place in Chinatown in London in Soho. It was 4 stories high with 3 or 4 tables on each floor, wooden floors, bare wooden tables and chairs, bustling with a hand-pull dumbwaiter serving absolutely delicious seafood (Cantonese mainly). I went there probably a dozen times.

    Funniest incident in a restaurant was with my grandparents, my aunt and mother in New York when I was 8 or so. We went to an automat. My grandmother got up from the table and went to get something. When she did, a woman swooped in and started eating her food. My grandfather chased her away. A family memory was born.

    • #16
  17. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Not as overtly exciting as the stories from @she , but dining with my father often involved the unexpected, even before the dementia set in.

    On one particular trip to Olive Garden we hadn’t even all sat down before my father began calling loudly for the unlimited salad bowl. Only my daughter (his oldest grandchild, who was about 8 or 9 at the time) could provide him with enough assurances that the salad bowl would come that he quieted down.

    In the area in which we lived, it seemed that most servers were college students. My father was a professor (retired by the time of this story), and always asked the server questions about his or her major, career prospects, etc. My father had recovered from a serious (near fatal) infection in his leg, and it turned out our server was a nursing student. A diner at a nearby table heard this and volunteered that she was a nurse. The three of them there in the restaurant had an extended medically graphic discussion of my father’s infection and its treatment, complete with photos of the infection and its healing that my father carried around with him. 

    While the servers were often college students, the cooks and busboys were generally immigrants from Mexico and Central America. At a Mongolian BBQ (patron assembles bowl of raw thinly sliced meat, raw vegetables, and seasonings, hands bowl to cook for cooking on a large griddle), my father would ask the obviously Hispanic cooks (in Spanish) what region of China they came from. Usually they got the joke. Occasionally one would get a look of panic, fearing that my father worked for US Immigration. 

    • #17
  18. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    …my father would ask the obviously Hispanic cooks (in Spanish) what region of China they came from.

    I love it. I’m not saying I would do anything like that, but I certainly have in the past.

    • #18
  19. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer
    @KirkianWanderer

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    …my father would ask the obviously Hispanic cooks (in Spanish) what region of China they came from.

    I love it. I’m not saying I would do anything like that, but I certainly have in the past.

    If my parents come for graduation next year, I am completely and utterly terrified of what my dad will say to my professors. Particularly my very prim and proper, RP accented, tweed jacket wearing, 65ish dissertation advisor. God bless that man, he puts up with my utter awkwardness and inability to form coherent sentences out of fear around him, but I don’t think he’ll be prepared for just how different (and ‘American’) my parents are. Or if he makes a Natasha and Boris joke to my Russian tutor, I may just will myself out of existence then and there.

    • #19
  20. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):
    Or if he makes a Natasha and Boris joke to my Russian tutor

    Is tutor Natasha or Boris?

    • #20
  21. Southern Pessimist Member
    Southern Pessimist
    @SouthernPessimist

    “Okra!” he exclaimed. Marvelous stuff! RAGING APHRODISIAC!!!”

    I don’t think anyone is going to top that as a memorable restaurant experience.

    One experience that is amusing to me dates back to visiting Chicago many years ago and although we had visited more than enough times to have old favorite restaurants, we booked a reservation at Spagio’s due to recommendations from a local friend. I had heard it was Barack Obama’s favorite restaurant although I didn’t hold it against them. There were four of us, me, my wife and two other nurses, who like my wife had become prominent executives in the healthcare field.
    As we ordered and consumed our meal which ended up costing nearly a thousand dollars for the four of us, I realized that as the only male and the only physician at the table, I needed to offer to pick up the check for this meal. Just as I made the reluctant effort to pick up the bill with my alligator arms, one of the other women grabbed it and said she was going to expense it to the national organization that was sponsoring the conference.
    Gratitude. Yep, gratitude is what I felt.

    • #21
  22. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer
    @KirkianWanderer

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):
    Or if he makes a Natasha and Boris joke to my Russian tutor

    Is tutor Natasha or Boris?

    Natasha. Natalia properly, but she only uses the diminutive. Funnily enough, she’s the only tutor that uses the diminutive of her name, but she’s also the most formal. If we mix up вы and ты there is hell to pay, particularly if she knows our native or second language has a similar distinction between formal and informal pronoun of address. I love her dearly, but she’s not always an easy woman. 

    • #22
  23. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):
    Natasha. Natalia properly, but she only uses the diminutive.

    Okay, that makes it even funnier and more likely your dad will say something.

    • #23
  24. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer
    @KirkianWanderer

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):
    Natasha. Natalia properly, but she only uses the diminutive.

    Okay, that makes it even funnier and more likely your dad will say something.

    Oh yeah, especially because he described her (through my sometimes less than judicious after class texts) to my Russian dentist. And my dentist very solemnly explained to my dad that her behaviors were very typical of most Russian women, and that he was supremely lucky to find the wife he had. To be fair, Natasha ain’t exactly diplomatic herself. She basically called a girl in our class an alcoholic because she missed so many of her lessons last year due to hangovers, and forbid us from clapping for an oral presentation that she thought was substandard. “Are you animals, will you clap for anything?!” We’ve had an up and down kind of year. I drive her crazy, because I generally know what I’m doing but am very quiet (she’s also hard of hearing and refuses to admit it) and tend to screw up more when I’m around her, because the shouting and caustic remarks, and my desperation not to disappoint her, make me nervous. I suspect that I also don’t fit the mold of what she thinks of as American, and she try’s to bait me into shouting at her because she’s afraid that I won’t stand up for myself. From what she’s said about her childhood, she was quite quiet herself, but had it beaten out of her by the Soviet system because it was a kind of non-conformity. She absolutely can be mean, cruel, and overbearing, but she’s also bright, funny, and really invested in us doing the best we can. The tutor in charge of the class explained that she really does love us all, but she can only express her desire for us to be 110% ready for any challenge. Most of the time, I just want to give her a hug, for having been so badly treated and yet being such a dedicated teacher. My dad, and most of my friends in that class, are still of the opinion that she’s crazy and kind of a witch. 

    • #24
  25. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer
    @KirkianWanderer

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):
    Natasha. Natalia properly, but she only uses the diminutive.

    Okay, that makes it even funnier and more likely your dad will say something.

    Oh yeah, especially because he described her (through my sometimes less than judicious after class texts) to my Russian dentist. And my dentist very solemnly explained to my dad that her behaviors were very typical of most Russian women, and that he was supremely lucky to find the wife he had. To be fair, Natasha ain’t exactly diplomatic herself. She basically called a girl in our class an alcoholic because she missed so many of her lessons last year due to hangovers, and forbid us from clapping for an oral presentation that she thought was substandard. “Are you animals, will you clap for anything?!” We’ve had an up and down kind of year. I drive her crazy, because I generally know what I’m doing but am very quiet (she’s also hard of hearing and refuses to admit it) and tend to screw up more when I’m around her, because the shouting and caustic remarks, and my desperation not to disappoint her, make me nervous. I suspect that I also don’t fit the mold of what she thinks of as American, and she try’s to bait me into shouting at her because she’s afraid that I won’t stand up for myself. From what she’s said about her childhood, she was quite quiet herself, but had it beaten out of her by the Soviet system because it was a kind of non-conformity. She absolutely can be mean, cruel, and overbearing, but she’s also bright, funny, and really invested in us doing the best we can. The tutor in charge of the class explained that she really does love us all, but she can only express her desire for us to be 110% ready for any challenge. Most of the time, I just want to give her a hug, for having been so badly treated and yet being such a dedicated teacher. My dad, and most of my friends in that class, are still of the opinion that she’s crazy and kind of a witch.

    Sorry, I have no idea where that soliloquy on a Russian teacher came from. Probably just because I’ve been working on getting stuff ready for next year. 

    • #25
  26. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    …my father would ask the obviously Hispanic cooks (in Spanish) what region of China they came from.

    I love it. I’m not saying I would do anything like that, but I certainly have in the past.

    If my parents come for graduation next year, I am completely and utterly terrified of what my dad will say to my professors. Particularly my very prim and proper, RP accented, tweed jacket wearing, 65ish dissertation advisor. God bless that man, he puts up with my utter awkwardness and inability to form coherent sentences out of fear around him, but I don’t think he’ll be prepared for just how different (and ‘American’) my parents are. Or if he makes a Natasha and Boris joke to my Russian tutor, I may just will myself out of existence then and there.

    • #26
  27. KirkianWanderer Coolidge
    KirkianWanderer
    @KirkianWanderer

    Percival (View Comment):

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    …my father would ask the obviously Hispanic cooks (in Spanish) what region of China they came from.

    I love it. I’m not saying I would do anything like that, but I certainly have in the past.

    If my parents come for graduation next year, I am completely and utterly terrified of what my dad will say to my professors. Particularly my very prim and proper, RP accented, tweed jacket wearing, 65ish dissertation advisor. God bless that man, he puts up with my utter awkwardness and inability to form coherent sentences out of fear around him, but I don’t think he’ll be prepared for just how different (and ‘American’) my parents are. Or if he makes a Natasha and Boris joke to my Russian tutor, I may just will myself out of existence then and there.

    Thank God she died her hair back to brown from the black it was earlier, or he might really do it. Animated Natasha is actually creepily reminiscent of the real one, down to the blue eye shadow. Oh no…

    • #27
  28. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    When I listened to War and Peace, I expected Boris and Natasha to be a couple.

    • #28
  29. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Not as overtly exciting as the stories from @she , but dining with my father often involved the unexpected, even before the dementia set in.

    On one particular trip to Olive Garden we hadn’t even all sat down before my father began calling loudly for the unlimited salad bowl. Only my daughter (his oldest grandchild, who was about 8 or 9 at the time) could provide him with enough assurances that the salad bowl would come that he quieted down.

    Grandchildren are special, I’ve learned that over the last few years myself.

    In the area in which we lived, it seemed that most servers were college students. My father was a professor (retired by the time of this story), and always asked the server questions about his or her major, career prospects, etc. My father had recovered from a serious (near fatal) infection in his leg, and it turned out our server was a nursing student. A diner at a nearby table heard this and volunteered that she was a nurse. The three of them there in the restaurant had an extended medically graphic discussion of my father’s infection and its treatment, complete with photos of the infection and its healing that my father carried around with him.

    Oh, this made me laugh, and brings back so many memories of Mr. She, also a professor with the gift of the gab, and the rabbit holes he would go down with the wait staff on many occasions. Thank goodness that level of medical detail was never on offer though. (Having worked for 25 years in hospitals myself (in a non-clinical area) I can testify that nurses have no shame when it comes to talking about absolutely anything at the meal table. It’s all fair game.

    While the servers were often college students, the cooks and busboys were generally immigrants from Mexico and Central America. At a Mongolian BBQ (patron assembles bowl of raw thinly sliced meat, raw vegetables, and seasonings, hands bowl to cook for cooking on a large griddle), my father would ask the obviously Hispanic cooks (in Spanish) what region of China they came from. Usually they got the joke. Occasionally one would get a look of panic, fearing that my father worked for US Immigration.

    LOL.

    • #29
  30. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    KirkianWanderer (View Comment):
    Thank God she died her hair back to brown from the black it was earlier, or he might really do it. Animated Natasha is actually creepily reminiscent of the real one, down to the blue eye shadow. Oh no…

    Give us your dad’s e-mail address. We can warn him he absolutely shouldn’t do anything along those lines. 😁

    • #30