Spring Break: Blizzards, Blossoms And A Belly-Busting Belch!
Sometimes, life has a way of throwing you a curve ball (or snow ball) when you least expect it.
I left a mini-blizzard behind in Buffalo, NY after visiting for a few days, right before heading out to meet my children in Washington, D.C. to see the blossoms for Spring Break last Monday. Yes, that would be April 18th and yes, I said blizzard, as in snow. A good friend of mine who lives in Buffalo text-ed me while I waited for my plane to be de-iced, and I quote:
“Even the locals are dumbfounded!”
It felt like winter was literally smacking me in the rear as I flew from it.
Luckily, I was sitting in the first row and had no checked baggage. We arrived in Boston 12-minutes before my connecting flight to D.C. was due to take off. I was the first one standing behind the stewardess when she lifted the plane door to the gateway. I was off!
Think O.J. Simpson, running through the airport years ago wearing a three-piece suit and carrying a brief case while hawking Hertz rental cars. That was me, strategically racing through the airport looking ahead, planning my next maneuver so as not to knock into or over, anyone. Only I’m a 5-foot tall, Caucasian female who was wearing 3-inch heeled boots and instead of a brief case, I had my computer in my backpack and a rolling carry-on to deal with. I sailed through just as they were shutting the cabin door. I was out of breath for the next 20-minutes, but I made it!
I’ve always wanted to see the Cherry Blossoms in Washington D.C. and I have a penchant for all things political. My kids are old enough to appreciate both. It seemed like a good fit and it was. Our country’s capitol has much to offer, for free! Although if you plan on having lunch in any of the free museums, be prepared to spend nearly $20 per person. Air and Space, Native American and American History were our top three. I was particularly impressed with the African American exhibit and the First Lady exhibit in the American History Museum. An over-all favorite find, was stumbling upon Carmine’s Restaurant in downtown D.C, which is related to the two Carmines in NYC that I love so dearly. Other than soft rigatoni, the food was delicious!
We drove back to New York but I’m not a night driver so when the lights begin to blare and I can’t see the horizon, we need to pull over and get a hotel room.
“The restaurant closes at 9pm.” the hotel clerk said upon check-in. It was 8:20. We dashed up to our room, dropped off our bags and arrived back down at the entrance to the eatery by 8:30. With no one there to greet us, the bar tender glanced our way and said, “Go ahead, sit anywhere, she’ll be right with you.” Only two other tables were occupied so we pretty much had the pick of the place. We hadn’t eaten since 2pm and that was three states ago so I chose a far-enough-away-from-the-other-patrons table to make sure we gave them their space. My 10 and 12-year old kids were hungry and punchy. If you’re a parent, you know how that can go. After realizing we’d been sitting at our table for nearly 15-minutes with no sign of service, I asked my daughter to go find us menus in an effort to be prepared for when the waitress finally did get to our table. Hannah came back with one menu.
“That’s all there was, mom,” she said.
Pork Chops and Penne alla Vodka were their dinner choices. But having worked as a waitress all through college, and knowing how fickle each kitchen’s cook can be around closing-time, I knew enough to advise them to pick something from the sandwich menu too. Plan B. We were becoming impatient and just as I uttered the words, “Jeez, Sistah needs to put the move on it”, under my breath, “Sistah” came out of the kitchen and it was clear why it was taking her so long in the first place. With no disrespect intended here, Sistah, was probably 75-years old and while she seemed surprised to see us, she was pleasant and not in any rush at all. After several minutes, she took our drink order and found us another menu to share. Then she vanished again. At five to nine, she took our food order and at 9:05 she came back to say, the cook wouldn’t do it.
“You’re too late.” she informed us. “He stops making dinners at 8:30. Snack foods only.”
(Um, okay, it would have been helpful to know that ten minutes ago.) We revised Plan B and ordered a few appetizers although when it came to Hannah’s turn, before she could speak, the waitress said,
“You can have chicken fingers.”
After writing, repeating and re-writing our order, she once again disappeared behind the swinging kitchen doors. There are two ways you can handle a situation like this. We chose to take the humorous route and laughed at our silly circumstances. Still no drinks. One calamity seemed to follow the other from that point on, interspersed by short, uncontrollable fits of laughter. Several times, Sistah came out of the kitchen looked around and went back in. A couple of times she walked over to the other two tables to check on them and finally at around 9:15 she brought us our drinks. From the moment Hannah got her diet-coke she kept complaining that it just didn’t taste right. We all took a sip and agreed there was something off about it. We concluded a mix-up of sorts, possibly root-beer and coke combined. Another ten minutes passed before Sistah re-appeared with our food. The loaded nachos were loaded indeed, with processed Cheese Whiz and remained for the most part, un-eaten. Our mozzarella sticks never showed up. We all shared Hannah’s chicken fingers.
For dessert our waitress said we could have ice-cream only — even though we saw a variety of cakes listed on the menu. We settled on one chocolate, the rest vanilla. Fifteen minutes later Sistah emerged with one very large bowl of chocolate ice-cream hidden under a mound of whipped cream and topped with a cherry for Noah. She turned to Hannah and said, “Sorry, no vanilla but we have cake,” and proceeded to list the cake options we saw earlier on the menu. After that bizarre exchange and before Sistah came back with Hannah’s carrot cake and the remaining ice-cream, Hannah took another sip from her soda. I watched her as she set her glass down and began to open her mouth, I thought to complain again, but this time something completely unexpected happened.
A small explosion seemed to occur within her little body.
Similar to that of a volcanic eruption, a loud, growling BELCH blasted from her throat filling the room, startling everyone in the restaurant, including herself.
Even the bartender and the three men who came in to watch the hockey game, all turned in our direction. The elderly couple in the booth looked affronted. The middle-aged man dining by himself simply gaped at us with his mouth hung open in disbelief at what came from my sweet little 10-year old daughter’s body. Under ordinary circumstances, I would be mortified. I would admonish her for burping at the table but I can’t even be certain that was a burp! Clearly it was not something she could control and neither was the laughter that ensued. There was no reprimand, instead we nearly fell to the floor doubled-over in bellyaching hysterics. Really the timing was impeccable. It was truly a price-less moment.
After dessert (and regaining our composure) came the bill.
“I took $4 off because you had to wait so long at the beginning,” said Sistah.
Upon further scrutiny, I saw that she also gave us $4 in coupons for our next meal and we were not charged for the mozzarella sticks that never came.We were also not charged for our drinks. Nor were we charged for the ice-creams and carrot cake. Our bill came to $21 and change. It was 10pm.
I can’t remember the last time we laughed so much together as a family. I left a $15 tip. Thank you, Sistah!
Tell me, what curve balls has life thrown you lately?
Photo Credit #1: Jet Photos
Photo Credit #2 & #3: Me
Photo Credit #4: Google Images
Photo Credit #5: Brian Gray -Monster Burp