Sandra Tsing Loh and her daughter find interesting company while dining out.
Thank God it's March! A month that, unlike February, has no Valentine's Day.
I've endured several decades of Valentine's Days, and not one has been enjoyable. People tend to think that being single on Cupid's big day is awful, but being married when February 14th comes around can be a drag, too. First, both spouses forget that this lame made-up holiday is coming. Then, they remember, but hope it will just blow by unnoticed - Then, that suddenly seems too sad - Which prompts the hasty, last minute booking of somewhat-less-than-favorite restaurant. The result is a rushed, overpriced meal, where no sooner do you stick your fork into your entree that a mini chocolate cake arrives - with your valet ticket and a bill for $200 stuck in the heart-shaped icing. Making you think, "What kind of a loser couple are we that we fall for this every year?" Or, perhaps I overthought all of that, which is but one reason I'm no longer married. Bottom line, this year on Valentine's Day, my older daughter was working on a school play, so as counterprogramming I took my younger, 11-year-old daughter out to dinner at her favorite chain restaurant - California Pizza Kitchen. She's getting an early lesson in alt-V-Day dining.
Suzy and I arrived at CPK at the fashionable hour of 5:30. That's at least better than 4:30, which is when we usually dine at the HoBu - aka Hometown Buffet. But, of course, this is a special treat.
Just as we open our Valentine's Day special menus-spinach dip, two entrees, pie to share for thirty bucks - a young couple descends on the table next to us. They're bearing a toddler and a baby in a stroller.
"I guess we're in the children's section," Suzy grumbles. But no, as we lift our heads, we realize the entire restaurant is a children's section. There are children swarming literally every table. Toddlers are eating either all white food or crayons. Babies either kick in high chairs, or are simply dropped in buckets on tables, as though the babies themselves are part of a spinach dip appetizer. "I'll take a wing. I'll take a drumstick."
And, the parents are drinking. Like crazy. There's red wine, white wine, and what appears to be scotch on ice. We see a mom practically breastfeeding while frantically balancing a glass of pinot grigio on her boob.
"Whatever happened to babysitting?" I wonder to my daughter, as we fall over laughing. For the prize of a Thai Chicken pizza, that baby could have been left at home!
But, no. In 2014, for many of us, married or divorced, our children are our Valentines. At least they're funny ones. I'll drink to that.