Friday, February 25, 2011
How many in your party, sir?
Once a month, on Sunday after church, my family dined at an establishment called called Mr. Steak. Ever heard of it? It was high falutin for a family of eight. Sure, I would have preferred Steak and Ale, but it was better than McDonald's. It was a family tradition for years.
Initially I was taken with the special ecoutrements bestowed on Mr. Steak's valued kid patrons. Immediately upon walking in we'd gaze at the green plywood lollipop tree behind the cashier/hostess stand. Mom and Dad would point to as though it was a historical landmark and say, "Whoa! Check out that tree kids! Finish your dinner and you can pick one out!"...We'd get all hyped up, excited at the prospect of the lollipop. It was only later I realized they were chinzing out on dessert. Free lollipop. Can you imagine if that was shown on a dessert tray? Please...I digress.
Upon getting seated, the hostess/cashier would hand us a coloring menu and a box of 4 mini crayons. Really great entertainment. If I remember correctly, it almost always had a picture of Mr. Steak, the loveable bull who was the namesake of the restaurant. Didn't stop to think we were actually cannibalizing Mr. Steak..that he was slaughtered. Dead. Anyway, my brother and I enjoyed drawing boogers coming from his nose. Or vapers coming out his ass...
I enjoyed the niceties of being a Mr. Steak kid patron until I reached the age of 11. It was around that year that I realized my parents were passing me off as a 10 year old. We'd walk in, the hostess would ask the standard, "How many in your party?"...Dad would turn his back and say quickly, "Uh, let's see, two adults, six kids...right? Six kids." as though there was any question about the number in his party. He knew I had passed the 10 year old age qualification for the kid menu. I'd stand there, stewing as I was seated and handed the kid menu and crayons.
This scam last until I turned 12. It was that year I decided I had enough. My dad had an extra year to enjoy his savings by my dining on kid meals. Time for me to take a stand. Put an end to Dad's money saving scheme.
The next time we went out to eat, I stood in the lobby and watched as Dad did his usual, "Two adults, six kids" spiel. We walked to our table and sat down. As the hostess came around with my usual coloring menu and crayons, I put on a look of complete surprise. "Oh! I'm sorry! Didn't my dad tell you I was twelve? Wait, I can still order off here, right?" as though I longed for the kid menu...didn't understand the age qualification.
The hostess yanked back the kid menu as though she was about to commit a felony and said, "No, little lady. I believe you're right. Let me get you the adult menu." She shot a look over to my now red-faced Dad. If looks could kill, my mother would have murdered me...in the middle of Mr. Steak.
Did I catch hell? No, not really. My dad and I both understood his scam. I actually think he was relieved. Kind of like a criminal on the lam, finally caught by authorities, when they say as they're hauled into a police cruiser, "You have no idea how relieved I am this is finally over."