A Quiet Sunday Dinner

I hear hushed voices barely audible coming from the living room, "You girls go ask Papa if he will go to Picadilly's with us, he'll never say no to you."   I knew my fate was sealed.  In bounced Layla and Nicole with mischievous grins on their faces.  "Papa please go to Pickle-dilly with us."  Ignoring the voice in my mind screaming not to do it because I would regret it, I said yes.

Let me take a second to describe the players in the drama about to unfold.  First there is Nana (my wife).  Nana has got to have a pit Bull somewhere in her family tree, for once she gets an idea, nothing short of death will wrest this idea from her mind.  Next is Mella (my mother-in-law).  Mella is a fine lady who is 90 years old and does everything at the speed of stalagmites forming.  Layla is next (my six-year-old grand daughter).  Layla is the strongest willed individual in history.  Next we have Nicole (my 3-year-old grand daughter).  She is of a quieter nature than Layla, and uses this as a weapon to get Layla into trouble.  The last in this drama is Papa (me).  I would rather take a beating with a blackberry switch than go out to eat.  The food is usually not that good, and when the bill is paid, I see a power tool that cost less, and could be taking a place of honor in my shop.

We load everyone into the car.  This is a feat in its own right, because we are putting five people (2 in car seats into a four-passenger car.  Finally we get everyone shoe horned in.  As the transmission hits reverse to back out of the drive, Layla yells "I'm bleeding, I need a Band-Aid!"   I put the car back into park, unlock the house and go in and get a Band-Aid for Layla's boo boo.   I bring the box because I know that Nicole will now examine every inch of her body to try and discover a boo boo so she can get a Band-Aid too.  We get Layla's wound treated, and I put the car into reverse to back out of the drive again.  Before backing up 2 feet, Nicole says, "I feel like I am going to throw up"!  I put the car back into park and we have a 10-minute interrogation of Nicole to try and figure out if she wants to stay home or go eat.  "If there is a God in Heaven, please let her say she wants to stay home!" I say to myself.  This is not meant to be.  Now Nana switches to persuasive interrogation because she wants to go out to eat.  It is finally decided that we will get a bowl to take with us in case she does throw up.  I unbuckle, get out of the car and let Nana out to go to find an appropriate throw up container.  Nana finally comes back with a gallon plastic sherbet bucket.  Nana gets back into the car and I get back into the driver's seat.  I put the car into reverse and finally back out of the driveway. 

The trip to Picadilly's was fairly uneventful, other than each grand daughter brought toys the other wanted, but did not want to give up any toy of their own.  At Picadilly's, we unfold out of the car.  At this point it is decided (not unanimously) that Nicole would take the throw up bucket into Picadilly's, in case she was serious about throwing up.  Now Layla says it is not fair that Nicole gets to take a throw up bucket into Picadilly's and she doesn't get to take her backpack in with her.  After about 5 minutes of trying every child psychology trick we knew, we started across the parking lot.  Here we were, Mella dressed in her Sunday best moving at glacial speed, Papa wearing the clothes he had slept in the night before, Nicole with a throw up bucket, and Layla with a back pack so full of necessities that it brought flashbacks of my military service.  As we walked into the cafeteria, scenes from the Grapes of Wrath go through my mind.  All we needed was a model-T truck, and we too could have been dust bowl refugees.  Now we set in for our 20 minutes of bovine like behavior of standing then moving six inches at a time meandering our way to the feed lot.  During this 20 minutes each of the children announced loudly every obvious thing wrong with everyone.  "Papa, that man's pants look funny"!  "Papa what is that on that woman's face"?  It's hard to act like children aren't with you especially, when you are holding one of them.

Finally we are at the food line.  After fighting with the kids about who moves the trays along the counter, we start off.  "I want Jell-O";  "I want watermelon!" " I want a chicken leg"!  The orders came out so fast and furious that the line people just kept shoving food to us.  After the flurry of food subsided, each child had enough food to feed a third world country.  We finally get to the table with the help of two employees helping us carry trays.  Mella, sitting calmly says "what took you so long"?  We take the food off the trays and try to find enough table space to place the food.  After each child sees what they finally have, Nicole says "I don't like this, I want that", pointing to my country fried steak.  I relinquished it in hopes of avoiding another scene, which would only bring everyone's attention to the throw up bucket proudly displayed on our table.  After several dropped utensils and Layla wanting to hold her hand up to get the waitress to bring her more red beans and rice, the dinner was over.  After bringing us enough to-go boxes to make Styrofoam stock skyrocket, we pay the bill and head for home.  Thank god, the ordeal is over.
As we turn into the neighborhood, I hear Nana say, "Do you all want to go to Wal-Mart?"

Dave Wilson © 2001