Every now and again, Fred has a day off, and the stars and our schedules align such that we can have a lunch date.
When this happens, we generally go to the same spot we go to every time: an upscale pizza place. I say upscale because it has art on its walls. The art is all themed on boldly-colored cows, but it is art, nonetheless.
A mere two days before our last lunch outing, however, I had read in the community paper that a nearby restaurant had changed owners, and it now boasted a more modern menu and user-friendly hours. I pressed my case for a change in pace….
Me: I know they used to be only open for brunch after church, but now they’re serving 3 meals a day!
Fred: Weekdays, too?
Me: Yes, weekdays, too. Let’s check it out, because it could be someplace great that we could take the kids once in a while for dinner. Family friendly, local, good food, should be perfect!
Fred: Sigh (meaning yes).
Me: See? Isn’t it adorable?!
Fred: Yes. ‘Adorable’ is just the word I was searching for.
We walked into the diner just in time to see the tail end of a group of seniors shuffling their way with their walkers and quad canes to the last of the tables.
Waitress: I’m sorry, we don’t have any more tables. You could sit at the counter, or…..
Me: Oooh, I love booths. We’ll take that.
She looked at me in a “you don’t come here often” kinda way, and then led us to our table.
The seat of the booth was at least 3 feet off the ground. Fred and I pulled the table away from the bench, stepped up on the foot bar/stepstool, hoisted ourselves up onto our seat, and pulled the table back in, our feet swinging freely beneath us like we were a couple of Kindergarteners. There was no seating on the opposite side of the table, so we sat shoulder-to-shoulder, like passengers on a train.
Aloft on our perch, we glanced around and beamed at our Kingdom of the Elderly spread before us, seated at their little tables.
Fred: Does a scepter come with our meal, because how am I to be expected to rule my Kingdom without one?
We laughed at the shrill beeping and flashing lights that ensued. What an amusing little anecdote we would have to share with the children later. We soon sobered, however, when it seemed no amount of fussing with the alarm box, or phone calls to the powers that be, or surly looks from the owner, could shut the thing down. Every few minutes, the pattern of the beeps would change and we would think it was about to stop. Nope. Change pattern, increase in volume, increase the frequency of the flashing lights, but not stop.
Waitress: Can I take your order?
Me: Yes, I’d like the Angus burger, well-done, with some mayo on the side, and the sweet potato fries instead of the regular.
Waitress: I’m sorry?
Me: The Angus burger? Well-done? With…
Waitress: I CAN'T HEAR YOU!
Me: THE BURGER! THE BURGER!
Waitress: And you, sir?
Fred made his dietary needs known with a series of gestures and hand signals and grunts that would have made Nell proud.
At the next round of volume/frequency increases, I finally had to cover my ears when the decibel level reached eardrum-bursting stage. I noticed all the little old people were sticking their fingers in their ears, too. Fred wasn’t. Glad he doesn’t have hearing loss or anything. Ahem.
The rest of our conversation took place by screaming in each other's ears like we were a couple of 20-something clubbers.
Fred: Why do I feel like at any minute, Charlton Heston is going to burst through that door, screaming, "Soylent Green is people!"(spoiler alert)
Me: Hand me that spoon, I think I'm about to have a seizure.
Fred: I've got a strange feeling that these folks are bussed in, and fed a decent meal...
Me: ...And they never leave!
Fred: Do you think if I pull this wall-sconce forward, our booth would swivel around on its axis and we would suddenly be on the other side of this wall?
Fred: Perhaps some dentures fell into the gears of the conveyor belt and it's up to us to resolve the problem...
Me: ...and save humanity!
Just then, the beeps and flashing lights abruptly stopped. Just as suddenly, we had nothing more to say to each other.
We ate in golden silence for a few minutes, and then I said,
Me: See? Aren't you glad we tried someplace new?
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