Once upon a time, my sister and I decided that our family should go to The Melting Pot (a fondue restaurant) for Christmas eve dinner. We thought it would be “different and exciting!” My partner pointed out that the rest of my family doesn’t really like “different and exciting!” as much as they like “predictable and flavorless”. I do not come from a family of culinary daredevils. My mother’s idea of walking on the gastronomical wild side was orange chicken at Panda Express. In some part of my brain, I knew my partner was right but that part had been sedated by thoughts of melted cheese so my sister and I made a reservation.
I broke the news to my mother and she said, “Why do we have to go there?” and I said “Because it will be fun!” and she said “But I want to go to Old Country Buffet!” and I said “But I’d rather shoot myself in the stomach than go there!” and then she pursed her lips and I knew that I had won. Mom was the lynch pin. Once she was on board (even reluctantly), everyone else fell in line.
Christmas eve arrived and we all headed to the restaurant – my partner, our two year old son and I rode with my sister and brother-in-law and my mother, step-father and nephew drove separately. There was one more hurdle – someone needed to tell my brother-in-law that he couldn’t bring his Wishbone Italian salad dressing into the restaurant as is his habit. I took a breath and said ”You can’t take your salad dressing into the restaurant tonight” and he said “WHAT?!” and I said ”You need to leave it in the car” and he said ”How will I have salad?!” and I said “You’ll have to have the house Italian” and he said “I might not like it” and I said “Well, that’s a chance we’re gonna have to take.” He left it in the car.
At the restaurant, my mother sat in the corner with her purse on her lap. My step-father sat next to her with his arms across his chest. They each ordered a salad and refused fondue. My nephew had taken so much cold medicine that he was unable to communicate or eat. My brother-in-law complained about the Italian dressing and was freaked out that we had to “cook our own food”. My sister and I were stressed beyond belief and my partner was frantically preparing things for our 2 year old who kept exclaiming loudly, “THIS IS THE BEST RESTAURANT EVER! I LOVE WEIRD THINGS!”
When the 2 year old is the most well-behaved person at the table, you know you’re screwed.