Note: For this story “Day” actually refers to the last 36 hours of our holiday weekend. Because it is a good one, I will tell it in a few posts. Today’s installment comes to you courtesy of last night’s dinner.
I feel that at this point, my thoughts about the beach should be well understood by all readers of my blog. In case you are new, or have other things taking up your memory besides my irrational obsessions, I will tell you.
I. Love. The. Beach.
All of it; the sand between my toes, the sun in my face, the waves crashing in my ears–all of it.
This weekend we were lucky enough to have a few days at the beach with some of our dearest friends and Chris’ family.
We were fourteen all together, split evenly: 7 adults, and 7 kids. If you have kids, know people that have kids, or have consciously chosen not to have kids, that last sentence should have sent waves of terror through your being. If not, let me say it again: there were SEVEN children.
With me so far?
After a great day of crabbing, swimming, kayaking and biking, it was time for dinner. In my infinite wisdom and bleary eyed beach coma, I thought it would be good for all of us to go out for a “nice” dinner.
Digression: I am a food and restaurant snob. I love food. I love going out to eat. And, I love nothing more than going out to eat AT THE BEACH. Over the years, I have learned that some of the best beach restaurants usually have the following in common.
1. They are in strip malls.
2. They have smart names like “Liquid Assets” and “Just Hooked.”
3. They do not take reservations.
So, armed with the above knowledge, I used my handy-dandy restaurant app and happily found a place that DID take reservations, AND had a table for fourteen, AND even boasted a great view–so great in fact that we could watch July 4th fireworks from the restaurant lawn. “Be sure to bring your own chairs…and bug spray!” The hostess had cheerfully reminded me.
Yes, in hindsight I should have known that the “great view” implied that this place was not in a strip mall. I should have thought that “bring your own chair…and don’t forget the bug spray!” were words not likely to be uttered in say a Thomas Keller or Donald Link restaurant. I shook it off and booked a table.
We arrived right on time and as our children fell out of cars like clowns out of a Volkswagen, my heart filled with dread. Outside, the place was beautiful, well kept, AND —-attached to a golf course. It can’t be a country club. It can’t be. Please God. Don’t let this be a country club.
The entry way was grand. There was golf attire for sale. The host, a man of considerable heft, was dressed in a wrinkled Hawaiian shirt. The waitstaff were all dressed in black pants, white shirts, neckties and looked absolutely terrified. Tablecloths were white and chairs were pleather (not a typo.) The menus were massive, pleather bound (not a typo) and chock full of entrees that would be served with “two accompaniments”
I felt my anxiety build. Where was the packed entry way with the gorgeous well-dressed hostess? Where was the bar full of uber cool guys in tight jeans and flip flops? Where was the menu full of words like “farm to table, sustainable, and locally grown?”
Despite my bad feeling we were committed. We had seven starving kids. We had brought lawn chairs and planned to stay to see fireworks right from the back lawn of the restaurant (I know, I know. A “lawn” should also have alerted me. No self-respecting-James-Beard-Zagat-rated restaurant would EVER have a lawn.)
While we waited for our food, we sipped our cocktails and tried to ignore the reality that was staring us in our sun-kissed faces–we were in a —GASP–country club and the vodka tonic tasted a lot like a margarita.
The news did not get better once our meal was served. At this point, I could go on and on about the greasy calamari or the wilted greens in my salad or the fact that when our nervous waitress tried to put down my gigantic Chi-Chi’s style margarita, she sloshed half of it into my friend’s vodka tonic.
But, I won’t.
Nothing sums up the travesty of our meal like those two accompaniments: foil wrapped baked potato (dollop of sour cream served in a small plastic cup alongside) and a “medley of (over)sauteed vegetables.”
Foil. Wrapped. Potato. People. Are you with me?
Finally, by the grace of God, it was done. We turned down the newly defrosted Key Lime pie and settled for coffee.
While we waited for the check, the older boys (14, 12, 12) were shooed out to fetch our chairs for our fireworks watching–after all space on the lawn was quickly filling up.
Digression: I love beach STUFF almost as much as the beach. So needless to say, I have NICE beach chairs, big, comfy, built in cooler, and back pack straps–for ease of transport naturally.
We had just gotten over watching one of the boys trying to push his way into a “pull” door, when the real highlight of the evening happened. While, he pushed, and muscled, and even banged his head on the glass a few times, we –his loving, nurturing grown-ups—laughed our full heads off.
Finally, having caught our breath, We quietly sipped the dirty dishwater the flustered waitress had mistakenly poured into our coffee cups.
I heard the boys before I saw them. They were not doing well.
Our two twelve year-olds were busting their way across the packed dining room. They shimmied, squeezed, and barreled their way past old men in sports coats, and a woman dressed from head to toe in an American Flag. Their faces were red, eyes bewildered, and backs bowed beneath the weight of two of my massive back pack beach chairs.
In our disgusted-with-this-1987-meal fugue, we had simply said “Go get the beach chairs.” We gave no further instruction. And so, that is exactly what they did. They got the massive beach chairs, and carried them to us….right down the middle of the packed to capacity country club dining room.
Come to think of it, we are not chic enough for molecular gastronomy or tapas.
We, and our oblivious kids are just cool enough for …well…foil wrapped potatoes.