I’m at “that table.”

3 Apr

I’ve always enjoyed dining out – and why the hell not? Someone else cooks and cleans, and even brings the food right to your table; all you have to do is pay them! I think it’s a sweet deal. I’ve been dining out regularly all my life.

Tonight, Buddy and I met our best friends, The Gonzalez Family, for dinner at our usual haunt. Halfway between our homes, this place is situated at the perfect spot. This joint sports a yummy, family-style Italian menu, and the portions are big enough for even my voracious appetite. We’ve been going here for years. If memory serves me, I even went to this restaurant for my 21st birthday (although that’s a hazy blur of Amaretto Sours). The Gonzalez Family has been in our lives since we were 18. They have a little baby, too, who is 7 weeks older than Pterodactyl. For the ten years or so that we’ve known The Gonzalez Family, we’ve been meeting at this restaurant for dinner almost every month.

Until now. Now I’m at “that table.” You know which one I’m talking about; “that table” with the loud kids (baby babble or angry screaming – these two munchkins know just one decibel.) “That table” with the food mysteriously flying through the air. “That table” covered in toys and cardboard books, which also happen to be covered in formerly airborne food. “That table” that childless patrons stare at in disgust, and request to be moved away from.

I don’t blame them for wanting to move to a table far, far away from us. When I was childless, if a hostess tried to sit me next to “that table,” I would immediately request a different section of the restaurant. I certainly didn’t want my meal disturbed, and I understand that other people don’t, either.

Mommy Gonzalez and I were talking about trying to find a “family-friendly” restaurant in the same area for future meet-ups, since it appears that our days enjoying fine dining are numbered. The problem is that I hate those restaurants. See, I love my kid and my nieces and nephews, but in those places, you’re surrounded by other people’s kids. That drives me nuts. And I hate the food at “family-friendly” chains. They’re over-processed, fattening, and pretty bland. It seems that my options are to resume eating at high-quality establishments while ruining other people’s meals, or to give in to the need to take my kid to a place where loud children are expected and tolerated.

We try to hush the Pterodactyl. We honestly do. Buddy and I are more firm than most parents I see attempting the same feat. Anyone who’s ever had a one year old knows that they’re feisty and independent, and if they have something to say, they’re going to say it at whatever volume they deem best. Needless to say, our “shhh”s amounted to jack shit.

How did this evening end? Mommy Gonzalez and I were on the floor behind the table playing with the (overtired and bored) babies, while Buddy and Daddy Gonzalez enjoyed normal adult conversations in their chairs. That was the final straw. We were ON THE FLOOR of a NICE RESTAURANT because our children were getting restless in their high chairs. Fortunately, our table was in the corner, and the only people who could see us being so tacky were at the table next to us, full of young, childless 20-somethings. (Sigh. I used to be them.)

I refuse to set foot in a Cici’s Pizza or something that urbane, but my crystal ball tells me that four or five years in the future, I may have to eat those words. In the interim, I guess we’re going to have to make the hour-and-a-quarter drive to one another’s houses to visit with the Gonzalez Family, since it seems that there are no “kid-friendly” restaurants at the half-way mark.

Because I’m at the point now that guzzling $50 in gas is preferable to being “that table.”

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