Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mother's Day Dinner

Ahh, Mother’s Day. . . Angel didn’t at all appreciate my gift to her. Even though I thought it was quite enough of an honor and privilege that I had allowed her to bear my child, I decided to extend my generosity and treat her to an evening out for dinner. Oh sure she loves to eat out, but she just got angry when I added to the offer “Any place you like.”

You see, since we started this crusade seven or eight months ago, it has become sort of a pain to decide where to go. There are plenty of places to eat to be sure, but deciding on a particular one is tough for a family of chronic non-deciders. So my offer to let her choose was in her mind a cop-out on my part. I cannot disagree since that’s exactly what it was.

She played it safe by choosing a place she likes rather than trying a new place. Fair enough.


Bandana’s

Festus MO

Yeah, we’ve been there a couple of times, reviewed it a couple of times, but she had a hankering for a known good meal rather than risk a new place that might turn out to be disgusting. It is very telling though that of the nearly thirty places we’ve been that this one was the one she knew she could get what she wanted and that it would be good. There are just a few places like that. The Captain’s Table in Solomons, Maryland is certainly at the top of this short list. The cream of crab soup is absolutely the best possible, and the crab cakes there define what a crab cake is / should be. A meal at the old, rundown dockside joint is as close to orgasmic as a meal can be and still be legal.

Trattoria Giuseppe’s in Imperial, Mo. is another. This is where we went for her birthday as well as a couple other times. I don’t know why not this time, perhaps because the food is so good and plentiful there that she feared she wouldn’t be able to stop eating. For her, warmer weather means lighter meals.

Bandana’s is a barbecue joint, a regional chain. They don’t sell burgers, fish or pasta. They smoke/grill everything there; they even grill the garlic bread. They offer five different wet sauces at every table.

She made her decision early in the day, and as I drove around that afternoon looking for a particular cemetery I passed several roadside barbecue events, hardwood smoke and pork aromas wafting across the road, my mind drifted to Bandana’s and what I would order. My mouth watered, I openly and publicly drooled.

We left for the place around five in the afternoon. My tummy was growling, the drool continued to make its course down my firm, manly chin. We chose the Bandana’s in Festus as it was the closest. It was not crowded, we were seated immediately and the blonde stick figure handed us menus and took our drink orders, tea, tea and sweet tea.

I glanced at the menu and wiped a puddle of drool from the cleft in my statuesque chin. Angel and Adam read through the entire small menu as if they hadn’t given it a thought ahead of time. I simply declared “I want a sammich!” My first glance at the menu had revealed pulled pork, I was done deciding. Angel eventually chose the side of chicken, corn and salad, Adam the turkey sandwich and corn.

The stick figure, and I’m not kidding, this girl was five eight or nine, a tall thing, and likely weighed no more than thirty five pounds. Her most prominent feature, the one that protruded the most from her nearly flat skeleton was her nose, and it wasn’t all that much of a nose. She was darn near two dimensional. I articulated my observations to my family in a simple way: “She has no ass.” Though factually accurate, my son took offense. “You’re not supposed to notice things like that!”

I pointed out to him that though I am usually not very observant at all, it was my appointed task to uber-observe at these outings as our readers expect in-depth color commentary, not just a bland regurgitation of what we ate and where we ate it. It was my job to look at the young lady serving us just as much as it was to notice the walls, the carpet and the incredibly large can of Allen’s Baked Beans on the counter.

Angel backed me up on this, sort of. “You didn’t look at the waitress?” she rebuked her son. We’ve been trying to socialize him more. He inherited not only his mother’s quaint shyness, but my aloof, asocial (it just looks anti-social) personality as well.

Angel doesn’t worry too much about me noticing or commenting on a waitress’s anatomy. She knows I wouldn’t stand a chance with any of them as socially awkward and horribly timid as I am. She showed no more concern than if I had said, “Hey, there’s a red Ferrari.” ( That is never happening either, but simply because I don’t really like rear-wheel drive cars.) So my commenting on the ass (or lack thereof) of a twenty year old blonde is in her mind completely harmless. Little does she know, if I had one single ounce of self confidence, I’d be quite the gadabout.

The food arrived, for the most part. Angel and Adam’s order were complete, mine was not. The stick figure spoke: “I’ll bring your fries out shortly, I promise.”

I waited. I only ordered the two things, had already imagined eating them, and this lack of harmony threw everything off.

“You can go ahead and start on the sandwich.” Adam scolded.

“No thank you, I’ll wait.” I answered with a fake smile, pretending to not be furious.

“Are ‘promised fries’ better than regular ones?” Angel asked, somewhat mockingly (or as it’s better known, in her usual voice.).

“The anticipation adds mystery and texture.” I replied. “But it also raises expectations.”

I waited patiently for five or more minutes, I tried to make eye contact with stick figure, but she would occasionally turn sideways and completely disappear from view.

Finally she delivered them and noticed that I had not touched my sandwich.

“You’ve been waiting for the fries?” She apologized.

“Not a problem.” I comforted her, “I trusted you to keep your promise.” She wrinkled what little skin she had on her face.

Finally there was balance in my universe. I hosed down the meat on my sandwich with sweet and spicy sauce, closed it up and dug in. One bite sandwich, one point five fries, one bite sandwich, one point five fries, perfect balance.

“You could have eaten part of your sandwich without the fries.” Adam chided.

“I could listen to the left channel on a stereo now and wait until later to listen to the right channel as well, but that’s just a stupid way to do things isn’t it?”

He flinched and recoiled, having been snapped violently backward by my sonic boom of perfect logic.

Angel was cooing over her garlic toast, as she should have been. The garlic toast at Bandana’s is as perfect a toast as I have ever had. She let Adam and I have a plug, and we delighted in it. She remarked that it was in fact the absolute perfect combination of bread and butter.

I also sampled her chicken, simply divine, smoky and moist, not at all needing eleven herbs and spices. Adam wolfed down his turkey; I caught up with them pretty quick.

Stick Figure dropped by and tempted us with desserts, we crumpled. Angel and Adam asked for the sinful brownie/ice cream thing, I asked for the Dutch apple pie, with specific instructions. Stick asked if I wanted it with ice cream, Angel muttered ‘uh-oh’ or something like that.

“No, no ice cream at all. AND I would like my pie as close to room temperature as is humanly possible.” For some reason waitresses seldom fathom this perfectly reasonable demand and ask me to repeat it. Stick didn’t even seem phased.

“I’ll try, but it’s mostly frozen and the microwave is kind of uneven, but I’ll see what I can do.”

Wow, finally, a professional!

She delivered. There were a few cold spots but no hot ones. Stick had just made the short list of possible future wives. Not that I’d ever leave Angel, but I’ve always assumed Angel will eventually leave me and hey, I’m a planner. What would you do if you woke up one day unexpectedly single? Not me, I keep a running list of options.

Summary:

I know this hasn’t been as reviewy as most of the others, but we’ve already talked about this place a couple of times. We like it, a lot! It is consistently, predictably good, which brings up something we discussed between bites, or afterward. From time to time in the coming weeks we’ll be going back to a few places to see how well they hold up compared to our initial impression, not the awful places, just the decent ones.

Parting thoughts; Mother’s Day.

When earlier in the week I asked Angel what she would like for Mother’s Day her only reply was: “A nap”. I both understood and respected that. As she was saying it she happened to be standing in the kitchen scratching otherwise unreachable parts of her back with my ornate, silver plated Anheuser-Busch letter opener, the very same one I use to open my many letters. Adam asked her why she was scratching her back with a letter opener and she responded in a very reasonable tone: “Because the butter knife isn’t long enough to reach.” I gave Adam a guy-to guy knowing look. We had come up with a perfect gift idea.

I know, I know, you’re all going “What about flowers or candy or jewelry?”

Nope, she doesn’t want those things. She doesn’t wear jewelry aside from the occasional earring; she’s allergic to some precious metals and mainly doesn’t like to fuss with bracelets and necklaces. Fresh flowers tend to fire up her many allergies, and candy, though she likes it, makes her feel guilty for having eaten it rather than a salad. Yeah guys, I know, I’ve got the perfect wife.

I usually do little more than a card and a nice dinner, but that’s really because she’s not MY mother, she’s my wife. I’ll do it uptown on ‘Wives Day” I think her kids own the responsibility on Mother’s day. Of course we’re both pretty low maintenance on the other faux-holidays, Valentines, Father’s Day, anniversaries, etc. as well.

I plan on napping on father’s day but only because it falls on a Sunday. I ask for / want for / expect nothing and am rarely disappointed. Having lived through /survived several serious bouts of fatherhood is achievement and reward enough and celebrating father’s day to me just reminds me of my many shortcomings in that role. Angel will offer up a meal, I’ll say shrimp and maybe a bag of cookies, but that’s just to assuage her guilt.

“So where do you find backscratchers?” Adam later asked me. My instinct was to answer “Wal-Mart” only because they seem to carry everything, aside from that I had no idea if backscratchers were even still sold.

It turns out yes indeed they are. A nice, long bamboo model is available at a $1 store near you. It is indeed the thought that counts.

And yes, I called my mother.

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