Dinner out once was a leisurely experience. Lacey and I would dine out to avoid cooking, save time, or to just get out of the amazing 900 square foot apartment we had in Virginia. We would sit and consume without a care in the world. The clock was in fast forward as we discussed what newlyweds think is important. It was the calm before the storm.
There were warning signs of my future, but I was too stupid to see them. In 2008, Lacey and I were living in Pensacola, Florida. A high school friend and her husband were vacationing in nearby Destin and we decided to meet up. They had been blessed with twins who were about two years old. Lacey and I were Destin regulars and thought we could meet for lunch at one of our favorite establishments. Our meal came, we enjoyed the view, and had a good time catching up with old friends.
That’s what the naive father of one 6 month old saw.
The reality that I witnessed, without really witnessing, was that while Lacey and I enjoyed the meal, our friends worked the meal. Fries were portioned. Walks were taken. Needless apologies were made. Trips to the bathroom. Distractions. Silverware maintenance. Salt and pepper thievery. More needless apologies. Toys dropped. Toys recovered. Binky maintenance. Books read. More needless apologies.
It was the same meal, at the same time, at the same restaurant. Two totally different experiences. This isn’t an indictment on my friends. Their kids were well-behaved and we had an great time. They just were just kids, and at the time, I didn’t realize the amount of work a simple restaurant experience was.
Fast forward 3.5 years.
At the end of our post-church, out to eat experience, I looked at my wife and started laughing. We are awaiting our check that cannot come fast enough. Lacey gives the waitress the stink eye and then looks at me as if to say,”Can you believe she has the nerve to deliver those drinks to that other table?”. I check my watch and calculate that it has been 23 seconds since she took my credit card and has NOT brought it back. Her tip was diminishing at an exponential rate.
As I sat there figuring out 18%, then 17%, then 16%, then 12% of 32, I looked back on the circus that had just taken place. We should’ve received a medal (or if you’re a MACS-2 Marine, a well-worded letter of appreciation) for our performance.
In less than 45 minutes we had:
-Read a 3’x3′ dinosaur map in its entirety.
-Averted blindness as the result of ketchup exposure.
-Executed a sanitary, no shoes, public restroom urination through a method of suspension and amazing agility.
-Discovered shoes that were thought to be lost forever.
-Contributed to the proper hydration of my daughter through the depositing of countless strawfuls of water.
-Single-handedly (literally) consumed a large sandwich.
-Ensured the proper temperature of macaroni and cheese that went unconsumed.
-Utilizing proactive thinking, ordered water. Not to drink, but to be used as a method of sanitation at the end of the meal.
-Consumed entire meal in less than 30 seconds.
-Prevented the interruption of at least 3 different conversations through the use repetitive instruction as to the location of Grant’s seat.
-Allowed the high-fiving of a giant wooden bear by Grant.
-Prevented the murder of our waitress through distraction and change-of-the-subject prowess.
There was more to this meal. I’m sure Lacey could provide more insight to the happenings on her side of the table, but you get the point.
The waitress returns. We gather our belongings. Carson high-fives the snowbirds in the booth next to ours. The hostess holds the door. We buckle. We start the same Imagination Movers song again.
Lacey exhales and says,”Well, that wasn’t too bad at all.”
And it wasn’t. It was awesome.