The mercury was rising. The natives were getting restless. Which usually means impending crankiness. Which is our typical signal for lunch.
What better time to take advantage of a lazy summer Sunday? We threw on some sandals and 20 minutes of whining, bargaining and begging later, we were ready to head out. Time for a gourmet mid-day meal. (As the following tale could happen anywhere, Iâ€™ll refer to our dining destination by a pseudonym â€“ Yellow Canary.)
We pulled up to the shopping center plaza at just about a quarter to noon. The boys piled out of the car and Search took off with a purposeful toddle â€“ as though he was well aware of his intended destination. Moments later he was hanging from the door handle of the ice cream shop.
Alas, we decided to actually parent our children and demanded â€œnutritionalâ€ sustenance first (but promising the kiddos pre-nap scoops if they behaved â€“ mostly because mommy wanted gelato).
The hostess pushed open the restaurant double doors and we were blasted by the artic chill of recirculated chilled air so familiar to California residents during the summer months. The hotter is gets outside, the colder it gets indoors; I think itâ€™s one of those very important legislative actions of the state senate that ended in â€œcompromise.â€
As it still wasnâ€™t even noon, there were only a smattering of people eating and we were seated right away. The hostess led us straight to the back â€“ as close to the kitchen as you can get. Behind us and next to us were other families with babies and toddlers.
We were clearly in the tiny peep section. Which meant we were going to be served by whichever waiter or waitress had most recently pissed off the associate manager on that particular shift.
(Please note: in a previous life I too served food at a â€œfast casual dining establishment.â€ I know how much it sucks.)
Search and Destroy scooted, squirmed and shimmied into our designated booth. Jon and I ordered a round of water â€“ with lids. (I know, living large.) We also went ahead and ordered an appetizer.
â€œOmigawsh, thatâ€™s so cute you each speak for one of them,â€ she cooed when Jon and I placed muppet orders.
We just smiled. Because just bring the food as soon as itâ€™s ready. Muppets are hungry.
Our server returned with three small plates. I surveyed our table again to be sure â€“ yup, still four of us. Oh well. We requested a new fork since Destroy had flung his to the floor in protest when his brother started coloring with the blue crayon. (The nerve!) Our server scooped up two table settings and returned with one.
Math was clearly not her strong suit.
And then we waited.
And waited some more.
How long do the culinary artists need to create the nutritious offering of grilled cheese and mandarin oranges from a can?
Search was now scaling the back of the booth, obsessively eyeing the ginormous chocolate ice cream tower precariously tilting toward the floor. I couldnâ€™t really fault the guy, thereâ€™s only so long you can keep a toddler cooped up at a table. And also, ginormous chocolate ice cream tower!
We waited some more; I began to think maybe Search was on to something and started eyeing the dessert delectable at the table behind us myself. Thirty minutes later, our lukewarm entrees arrived. (Thirty minutes at a fast casual dining establishment translates to approximately two hours elsewhere.)
But it was too late. We had passed the point of no return for bad behavior.
Some time later our server returned to the table that was the carnage of uneaten chicken nuggets, exploding ranch dressing and the dregs of canned mandarin orange juice.
â€œHow we all doing?â€ chirped the server. â€œCan I get anyone anymore broccoli?â€
Huh? Even if any one of the four of us (btw: still four) had ordered anything with broccoli, is that really your go-to side dish for seconds? At the kids table? (And my kids LIKE broccoli. Just not when the veggie goes up against fries and fruit.)
It was time to flee the scene. Check please.
Sadly, Mommy never did get her ice cream.