a girl, a guy, a tomato, a bean, and a bear

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Are you finished yet?

Last night Julia and I went to Chili's. Although I worried how she would handle it, Evelyn behaved marvelously (at least until the last few minutes...we'll get to that in just a bit...). Evie just soaked in the noises and movement in the dimly lit restaurant, wide eyed but calm. She spent some time in her car seat and also "sat" in my lap.

Our waitress came to the table almost immediately after we were seated and asked if we were ready to order. I really knew what I wanted, but the abruptness with which she showed up questioning us took me by surprise and we asked her for a few more minutes. She dropped her pad and quickly strode off. When she came back a few minutes later and prompted us again, I requested the Turkey Combo. It's one of my favorites at Chili's and usually what I order. I was especially craving it last night.

"Oh, sorry. I forgot to tell you. We're out of turkey," the waitress blurted.

I thought she was kidding.

"We're also out of iced tea, draft beer, and Jack Daniels."

"Jack Daniels? Great, that ruins my evening," I said, bouncing Evie on my lap.

But seriously, they were out of turkey. I very nearly gave her a hard time by asking for the Cajun turkey sandwich instead, but thought better of it. I ordered a burger.

We were working on dinner with Evie more or less cooperating. She began to be fussy in the car seat at one point, so I held her while working on the burger one handed. It's a wonder that all mothers aren't ambidextrous after a few months. I was eating more slowly because of this arrangement and there was still maybe a quarter of my burger and more than half of the fries remaining when our waitress, Speedy Gonzales, showed back up and asked if we were finished. Julia and I had talked earlier about getting dessert, so I just let her take my plate. In one swift move she'd cleared the plates, laid down our bill on the table and was gone.

About this time Evie was getting really tired, but there was no way she was going to fall asleep in the hustle of the restaurant without a little help. I'd brought my nursing cover and diaper bag this time (lesson learned from the Thai restaurant), so we commenced the awkward juggle I have not yet mastered that is nursing in public. Evelyn was happily eating and the waitress came back, expecting us to have paid and instead we ordered a dessert--the chocolate chip brownie thing they have with ice cream and walnuts and mmmmm.....

In another minute it arrived, and since I was still occupied, Julia slowly started in on dessert. She was taking her time since I couldn't yet dive in, but even after Evie finished we weren't wolfing it down. I laughed and remarked how when Justin and I order a dessert to split, there's none of the dainty restraint Julia and I were showing. Justin and I usually dive in and sometimes duel spoons at the end to see who gets the last bite. (He always lets me win.) Julia said it was the same way with her husband, and still there we were, trying to be quite lady-like and restrained with one another. ;) We continued nibbling, thoroughly enjoying ourselves and in no particular rush.

"Are you finished with that?"

The waitress had popped out of nowhere and was reaching for the plate, about a third of the brownie thing still perfectly intact. Julia and I reflexively lunged forward, shielding the plate and blurted, "No!" Ahem..."No, no, I don't think we're quite finished yet."

Once we actually were finished, I decided that I'd better check Evie's diaper before we headed home. The evening had gone so well, I didn't want to spoil it by discovering a leak halfway to the car. I gathered my precious baby up in my arms and made my way to the rear of the restaurant where I saw that there was a room especially for changing babies. Cool. As I opened the door we stepped out of the relaxing glow of the barely lit restaurant and into the cruel and stark world of the florescently lit changing room. Evie looked up to see not her mother, but a horrifying ax murder who had assumed my form. Seriously, the look on her little face was one of pure terror and shock and I INSTANTLY regretted going into the room. If I were to do it over again, at that moment I would have walked right back out--maybe she would have calmed back down. Instead I pig-headedly thought she was just mildly started and would settle down as I changed her. Not. The. Case. She screamed with more fury and intensity than I have ever heard from her, and like I said, it wasn't just any old cry--she was terrified. I tried cuddling her and rocking her, and even did a little impromptu nursing standing right there in the changing station. I did the quickest diaper change in history and gathered her back up, still screaming bloody murder, hoping she'd calm down when we re-entered the restaurant. It helped a little, but at this point she was gone. I motioned to Julia that we were headed to the car. The commotion we caused as we left was considerable and I'm sure that some people wondered if they should call child protective services or if this was a ploy to get out of paying the bill.

It was only after we were back in the car and I nursed Evie once again that she calmed down. As I strapped her into her car seat she gave me a sleepy smile as if to say, "Oh! Thank God! It's you again! Where were you 10 minutes ago in the bathroom?" She doesn't seem traumatized by the event, but I think I'm scarred. I've never felt so helpless and horrible.

And I still want my turkey sandwich...


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