(written in 1993)
Except for arthritis, I'm just like any other guy. I like sleep, remote controls, and watching the Phoenix Suns win basketball games. But most of all--I like to eat! It's my favorite pastime; it's the weak spot in 'ole Steve's makeup that made me say "OK" when my daughters asked if we could eat out.
Wifey was at a wedding in Chicago and the rest of us were vegging at home, taking care of MIL, being bored. MIL was acting fairly normal, considering..., so I said yes. Sure, we can handle a dinner on the town. Right? Sure!
Took my normal 20 minute trip to the van, jockeyed myself into position behind the wheel, and waited while the girls brought Grandma. The trip was uneventful, MIL was more animated than usual. "Pretty car," "pretty tree," "pretty seat," "pretty window," "pretty people," etc. Pretty weird. Right?
Decided on The Sizzler--fine salad bar, good steak ( and 'ole Steve LOVES steak). Just what the old man needed. And the girls could flirt with the busboys from the college. Girls helped with MIL.
Only I noticed once we were inside that her pants were on inside out (that tell-tale tag!!). But, hey, no big deal. We went for it. Soon we were seated at a table, saliva glands in high gear, all of us eyeballing that salad bar. Told MIL to sit tight and we'd get her some food. "Be right back!" She smiled that smile--you know--that "what are you talking about" smile. Salad bar was only a few feet away. No problem. Forgot just how fast MIL can be.
Girls and I were heaping healthy fibrous vegetable matter onto plates, with Kim fixing one for MIL. We were back at the table in two minutes. MIL was sitting there, the grin on her face as big as ever. Steak juices adorned her blouse, cheeks, chin, and hands--everything below the eyes. She was still holding the remnants of the T-Bone she had been munching.
It took a minute to realize that the guy at the next table looked as confused as MIL. He had returned from the salad bar to find that his meal had been served in his absence, complete with baked potato, bread, parsely, orange slice, and a big brown spot in the center of the plate where his T-Bone used to be.
He had a green face. I had a red face. MIL still had a brown face. Her grin told it all. She had managed to get her own food for the first time in years and she was very proud of herself.
Lucky for me the gentleman dining at the next table was a true gentleman. Both he and the staff at the Sizzler had a real sense of the humor of the incident and all was made right.
That was last August, and I haven't been out to eat since then. My teenage girls sure have avoided the issue. I do think they were embarrassed by the whole affair. I am getting hungry, though, and starting to get that craving for a good salad bar and a steak.
Think I'll ask my wife out on a real date after I get back from this next hospital visit and recuperate for awhile. Maybe I can walk good enough by then, and maybe the girls can take care of MIL for awhile. Maybe--with no wheelchair, crutches, or MIL that the only thing we'll have to worry about embarrassing us will be the steak juice on my face, my hands, my chin--everything below my eyes. See ya at the Sizzler!!
-- Steven Stoker