Today we celebrated my father-in-law’s 70th birthday.
We went to the Longhorn Steak House. Isn’t it pretty behind the steakhouse?
I don’t normally frequent steak houses because I don’t like steak. I had a great steak only one time in my life. Just the once. I’ve tried to reach that Steak High again, but I’ve never been able to duplicate it.
I was 16 years old. My friend Melanie was visiting. She was only 14, but she came from a long line of Italian cooks, so she was already a master chef by this time. She had thick curly hair and was short and plump with shiny red cheeks and she was always smiling. You’d take one look at her and know she was a good cook. She would say, “Eat! Eat!” and smile that big red cheeked smile at you, and wave her hands around.
She decided to make me a steak. I’m not sure how this came to be, since I was horribly picky at age 16. I’m bad enough now, but back then I was as picky as…well, I was as picky as my own kids are now.
I was telling someone the other day about my kids and their pickiness. After many years of trial and error, I’ve discovered exactly what it is they don’t like to eat: food. They just simply don’t like food. And their palates are something that wine connoisseurs would kill to have. I tried hiding one lone molecule of banana in Boy9’s pancake, and he could taste it. Oh the look of betrayal he gave to me. “What have you done? You’ve laced my pancake with banana?” He’s like the princess and the pea of food tasting. It’s a shame he hates eating so much because he could earn serious money with those taste buds.
Who knows? Maybe someday he will, even though he hates food. I used to go to a vet that was allergic to cats and dogs. For years he took allergy shots, but then he got tired of all the shots, so now he just sneezes through all the visits.
And he was loud, too. Dogs might be ok with a robust and loud vet saying, “Atta boy, Sparky! Up on the table!” But cats do not feel the same way. My cats hated going to that vet. I had one cat that would lose control of her bowels whenever she went to the vet, from sheer terror. And it wasn’t a normal release of bowels. It was a weird, sticky, incredibly foul smelling black goo that would come out of her. One time, she was on that table, and the stench blossomed into the room, gagging me and the vet.
The vet turned to me, and with serious concern on his face, asked, “Ma’am? Are you ok? Do you need to use the bathroom?”
For crying out loud! Look at the cat’s rear end! It’s not me!
Other than yelling happy hellos at the cats and terrifying them, he was a great vet. We loved him. And he soldiered on being a vet, even though he sneezed a lot, because he loved the animals.
So, I suppose that if Boy9 wants to earn money enough, he could use his particular inborn talent for taste detection and get a good paying job, even if he doesn’t like food.
Back to the story: Melanie wanted to make me a steak. I was 16, had just learned to drive, and owned my own car. Granted, it was a Ford Festiva, but I loved that thing. Adored it! It meant freedom. And it was a cinch to parallel park.
So, I drove Melanie to the local grocery store and she bought the ingredients. We went back to the house, and within half an hour, I was eating the most perfectly prepared steak e-ver. I mean, I’ve been to Ruth’s Chris’ Steak House, people, and those steaks? Cardboard! No one can make a steak like Melanie. Steak isn’t supposed to melt in your mouth, but hers did.
So, today we were at a steakhouse for Dad’s birthday, but I didn’t even bother to think about eating those nasty non-Melanie steaks. I got fish.
And you know how they say not to order fish at a steakhouse, or steak at a seafood joint? They’re right. The fish was blech.
But the potatoes were another story. Because if you’re going to own a steakhouse, then you have to have some decent potatoes.
Oh, the potatoes! Mashed potatoes! I love mashed potatoes! I don’t know what their problem was, but Nephew13 and his mom didn’t want to eat their mashed potatoes. Didn’t want to eat them? What’s wrong with you people?!
So when it was time to get our doggie bags, they offered me their potatoes. Three restaurant-sized servings of potatoes! Look at this pile of potatoes! All for me, me, me!
It was impossible not to do this:
Incidentally, my family (mother, father, me) was living in England when Close Encounters of the Third Kind came out. My mother said she cried and cried through the whole movie from homesickness, especially the scene with the mashed potatoes. The portions were so huge in the movie. She was so tired of tiny little English-sized portions. Back then, in England, people would eat a single egg, lean back, pat their bellies and say, “Woooeeee! Boy, am I stuffed!” You’d think my mother wouldn’t have cared about portions, being that she never weighed more than 90 pounds, but she said she just wanted to see people drive by in big boats of cars (my parents drove a mini) and scoop up mountains of potatoes onto their plates.
Actually, I don’t think English people lean back, pat their bellies and say, “Woooeeee! Boy, am I stuffed.” Here’s how I know:
In England, my parents hosted a bible study in their home one evening a week. One day, Andrew, the local antiques dealer, was the last person to arrive. My dad, ever clueless to social niceties in America, and double-clueless to them in England, barked out in a jocular American fashion, “Oh-ho, Andrew! Looks like you’ve got the hot seat tonight!” and pointed to the floor.
With great umbrage and flustered gasping noises, Andrew squeaked out, “Well, I never!” straightened his cravat and stormed out of the house, as only a British antiques dealer can do.
Another time, my dad offered a woman in the church to come to our house to watch the “boob tube,” which was an American slang for “television” back then. She also, with great umbrage and flustered gasping noises, squeaked out, “Well, I never!” and stormed away.
My poor dad. There’s a sense of innocence about him, and he was always deeply confused and a little hurt when people would take these sorts of statements the wrong way, and he’d apologize profusely.
What am I writing about?!? I don’t know! Hang on, while I re-read this post and try to bring this thing in.
Oh yes. My father-in-law’s birthday. We ate steak (fish), and mashed potatoes. The end.
Picture of the day:
I left the family at Dad’s house to play with his iPad that he got for his birthday, and I arrived home just as a monster downpour started up. Buckets of water sheeting down from heaven. I was trapped in the car all alone with nothing to do. All alone? Nothing to do? Ha! I had Alex (my camera) with me. So…
This is a picture of the rain on the sunroof of the car. You’re in the car, looking up at the roof.