The Chili Pepper Donut Ride

>> Monday, July 2, 2007

While dining out, our girls demand top-notch entertainment. Good food, a nice atmosphere, and stimulating conversation is not enough. They want to laugh, laugh loudly, and laugh often. It’s party time.

One of my favorite dining moments was when we took them to a restaurant that served fresh lobster. Elizabeth had seen the lobster tanks at the grocery store and for some reason still wanted to eat one. Once we were seated, she shouted at random waitresses walking by, “I want my lobster!” Yes, I apologize -- we were that family.

That’s what happens if they’re not properly entertained. If you don’t entertain them, they’ll entertain themselves. If you haven’t guessed, that’s not good. Pretty soon the girls start disappearing under the table. I take a bite of my salad and when I look up, they’re 3 tables over and playing with spoons. While talking to the server, they start pouring salt in my iced-tea. So let me emphasize once again -- they must be entertained.

Grandma (my mom) is a natural born kid-entertainer. Now that she lives in San Diego, we eat out more as a result. In general, whenever we want to take the girls somewhere that requires a personal entertainer, we are sure to bring Grandma with us. She tells stories. She draws pictures. She tickles and teases. Life with Grandma is fun.

Last night, Grandma was overdue for a restaurant meal and Michael had a hankerin’ for citrus-fired chicken and shrimp -- so we went out. Fortunately, the food came quickly and idle time was limited. (Idle time is the devil’s playground, right?) However, towards the end of the meal the girls grew restless and I grew nervous. Where’s the waiter? Where’s the check? Where are the crayons? But hallelujah, Elizabeth and Grandma invented amusement park rides to pass the time. Here are some of them:

The Chili Pepper Donut Ride

Tortilla Ride

Shirt Ride

Uppa-Buppa Ride

Plant-side Ride

Sea Horse Ride

Grandpa Inside Ride

Dead Sign Ride

Elizabeth invented the name of the ride, and Grandma supplied the details.

“What does the ‘Uppa-Buppa’ ride do, Grandma?” asked Elizabeth.

“Well, you climb inside a a big balloon and it takes you up and up until it bumps against the ceiling. Then is falls to the ground --whoosh!-- and you start all over again. That’s why it’s called the ‘Uppa-Buppa’ Ride,” Grandma explained this as simply as breathing. Whereas I would have said, “I dunno. It goes up?”

“What about the ‘Tortilla” ride?” Elizabeth asked next, and on and on until the check arrived.

Thank God for Grandma.

Each ride was more exciting (and more dangerous) than the next. Shirtsleeves reached out to capture terrified riders. Tortillas had to be eaten quickly or balloons filled with water would burst upon their heads. My favorite has to be the “Grandpa Inside” ride. But I’ll leave the details of that one to your imagination.

Once again we survived another restaurant meal and had a hell of a good time, to boot. Samantha ate her weight in broccoli, the server wished us a good evening on our way out, and Elizabeth keeps inventing rides where people get eaten by dragons (or donuts... I can’t keep up.) Did I say Thank God for Grandma, yet?

(By the way, can you guess the restaurant?)

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