Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Eating Out

I like to eat out and looked forward to eating out in a really nice restaurant in Kansas City this past weekend. It was Halloween and we were led to our seats by a soccer player. The waitress, a biker babe, took my order for a pork chop smothered in cheese, mushrooms, and sautéed onions.

When the pork chop arrived, it looked and smelled delicious. Then I cut into it and took a bite. It didn’t taste done and when I looked closer, I noticed the meat was pink. It is rare for me to complain, but when the waitress checked back to see how everything tasted, I said, “My pork chop isn’t done.”

“I’m sorry. I’ll get you another one,” she said.

In about ten minutes, a man dressed as a referee brought me another pork chop.

“How does it look?” he asked. Well, now, the other pork chop looked fine, but it wasn’t done.

“Yeah,” I said. “It looks fine.”

“What didn’t you like about the other pork chop?” he asked.

“It wasn’t done,” I said.

“It wasn’t done? They told us you said it was ugly.”

“Ugly? I never said that.”

He laughed. “Well I had never heard that one before, and we’ve been talking about it in the kitchen for the past ten minutes trying to figure out why the pork chop was ugly.”

We all had a good laugh. I think he was relieved that I hadn’t watched so many Food Network shows that I thought plating was the most important thing about the meal.

Later as I chuckled about the incident at the restaurant, I thought about some of the times Jim and I ate out and his dementia made it a challenge.

Jim liked to eat at certain restaurants, but he especially liked the food bar at Ryans. It became more difficult for Jim to make his selections. He would put gravy on his plate with the mashed potatoes on top. Eventually, we began to order off the menu. Jim loved steak, so I would order it for him. He always wanted tea to drink and he would mix several packets of sweetener in, stir, turn the glass up and drink it without stopping. The waitress would bring him another and he would repeat the process. Jim usually drank about four glasses before the meal came. He would give his steak a puzzled look. He didn’t seem to know what to do with the food. After I cut up the steak, he would pick up his fork and eat it.

Jim liked to eat at Eddie’s, a local drive-in turned diner. It is a place with lots of tradition and classic food. Jim’s favorite was the chili. One night we were leaving Eddie’s and Jim casually picked up some change from a table.

“Hey, give that back,” I said. “That’s her tip.”

“It’s okay,” the lady said.

“No, it’s not,” I replied and held out my hand for the change. Jim scowled at me, but he handed it over.

The next time when we left Eddie’s, I was helping him into the van when I noticed he had something clutched in his hand. I pried it open to find the salt shaker. I took it back in and found the table missing a shaker.

The waitress smiled and said, “Just when you think you have him figured out, he pulls something new, doesn’t he?”

That was an understatement. It was always an adventure when we went out to eat. Jim was unpredictable and sometimes I could sense people around us staring. Outwardly, he looked like any other man in his fifties, but his behavior was on the eccentric side. Jim didn’t notice the stares, and I got to the point where I didn’t care.

The thing about eating out—anything can happen. The meal may be mediocre, or it may be delicious. It may be Food Network fancy or it might be one ugly pork chop.

Copyright © November 2010 L. S. Fisher

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