My mother's birthday is on New Years Day. We usually take her out for dinner on that day, but this year we waited until yesterday. I'm all for doing the same in the future. Everybody in town likes to go out to eat on New Years Day, and that always means waiting in line for a table, in a very crowded and noisy restaurant. Mom's taste in food is not exactly what you would call epicurean. Her favorite place to dine out is Red Lobster, or Red Slobster, as my sister calls it, so yesterday I met mom and my sister, and my brother-in-law and his daughter at Red Lobster for a seafood dinner. I don't know if was because it was a Monday evening, or because most people were partied out from the holidays, but when I got there, the place was nearly empty. It was a welcome relief from the raucous crowd we usually encounter there. My mother and sister had yet to arrive, so my brother-in-law and my niece were having a beer at the bar, while waiting for them to show up. True to form, they straggled in fifteen to 20 minutes after the appointed rendezvous time. Fortunately because the place was so empty, we were promptly ushered to our table.
Our waiter was one of those clowns, that didn't know the difference between attentive service, and intruding on the privacy of the a party he was serving. I'm sure he just thought he was being friendly, but for the entire evening he subjected us to his impertinent presence, consisting mainly of unwelcome comments, and a very lame sense of humor. Is it possible that waiters are trained to be obnoxious? We seem to encounter this type more and more. Someone made the mistake of telling him that it was mom's birthday, so when he brought her desert, he made sure to stick a candle in it, and bring several other servers with him to lead us all in an embarrassing rendition of The Birthday Song. As everyone sheepishly sang in a different key, I looked over at my brother-in-law. He was staring down at the table, singing the familiar chorus in a monotone, with his face buried in his hands! By this time of course, more patrons had arrived, so we were surrounded by a lovely little audience to witness our shame.
I don't know if you have ever eaten at Red Lobster or not, but the seasonings that they love to use in copious quantities, are garlic, butter and salt. Lots and lots of salt! I had dinner of Shrimp fettuccine Alfredo, Shrimp Scampi, and fried butterfly shrimp, with broccoli, and a garden salad with Ranch dressing. The fettuccine Alfredo and the Scampi were so salty, I actually couldn't finish them. Every time I have eaten one of their seafood platters, I've left with a taste and feeling in my mouth, that I have just eaten a large tub of salty buttered movie theater popcorn. They do have some yummy deserts though, but they are way to large and rich for just one person, especially after a full meal dripping in butter. We ordered one desert, consisting of a large slice of apple caramel crumb cake, accompanied by two large scoops of vanilla ice cream, and four spoons. Mom dug in first, and when she had had enough, my sister, my niece and I each had a go at it. My niece stopped after just a few bites. Four or five bites was enough for me, and we left the rest for my sister, who appeared more than happy to clean the plate.
We asked the waiter to divide the bill into two separate checks, so that my sister and I could pay for our mother's meal. He returned a few minutes later with two leather binders in the pocket of his apron, containing the two bills. After pulling them out of his apron, grinning and doing an impromptu juggling act with them (I did tell you he was a clown, didn't I?), he placed one before my brother-in-law, and the other before my sister. I asked my sister how much our bill was, so I could split the cost of it with her, but sweetheart that she is, she refused to allow me to pay anything! She said that I had paid for hers before, so she wanted to pay for mine this time. I thanked her, and told her that was very nice of her. Suddenly my mother chimed in, "You can leave the tip!" I looked at her with a grin and said, "Oh no mom, she said she's paying for it!" The poor old woman has never known when to mind her own business!