“I know great minds discuss ideas and small minds discuss people,” she said over her margherita flatbread and my fish tacos, “but I find people FASCINATING.”
Her eyes and her voice grew big.
Perhaps it was her fascination with people that caused her to notice what I completely missed earlier in the evening, or perhaps it was the fact that I was looking for a parking space.
I took my daughter out to celebrate the 17th anniversary of my wedding.
Shouldn’t your husband have taken you out to celebrate your anniversary?, you might be thinking.
Yes, that is what one would expect, but this year, this April 6th, he took me out to breakfast and then promptly headed up north to go fly fishing for the weekend.
Seventeen years ago he turned down an invitation to The Masters to marry me on April 6, big golfer that he was, his love for me was even bigger.
But now, seventeen years later…. No really, I’m okay with it. Our brother-in-law invited him and I said, “Of course, go ahead.”
So I took my daughter out to dinner.
And though it might certainly be a memorable anniversary dinner, there was nothing romantic or magical about it.
We thought we’d take a chance on the Roadside B & G, even though they don’t take reservations.
45 – 60 minute wait. Nope.
We headed south while we racked our brains for plan B.
“What about Mex?,” my daughter offered. It was five miles straight down the road.
I was hungry and it was close, so Mex it was going to be.
We hit a traffic jam two miles down. In the distance we saw the flashing lights of multiple emergency vehicles, just in time to bail and take the long way around.
Upon arriving at Mex, I circled around the back of the restaurant looking for a parking space.
My peripheral vision noticed two men talking near the “employee only” back door and assumed they were on a break.
We parked, walked around to the front door and were greeted by a friendly host and hostess. The hostess picked up two menus, things looked promising.
For a second.
Just as she picked up the menus there was a LARGE, jolting bang.
My first thought was a gunshot. In this day and age it’s probably everyone’s first thought.
And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the spray of shattered glass, a stool tipped and crashed to the floor. Oh no! Was someone sitting in it?
Looking up from the stool, draped only with a coat, I saw the mangled fender of a car ten feet from where my daughter and I were standing.
A woman came running from the back of the restaurant yelling, “Call an ambulance!,” as she ran out the front door.
She ran back in to make sure everyone inside the restaurant was okay.
No one seemed to be injured, not even the diners whose table was displaced by the car, not the diners at several tables near the window upon whose meals shattered glass rained.
The quick responding woman, perhaps she as the front of the house manager, ran back outside, by then several other employees were out there, too.
“We better leave,” I said to my daughter.
We headed out the chaotic front door just as the woman was yelling for someone to get towels.
We looked to our right. The driver of the car was sitting against the wall of the restaurant with blood pouring out of both nostrils, agonized look on his face.
“This wasn’t supposed to happen, this wasn’t supposed to happen,” he kept repeating as attenders tried to calm him.
We sat in my car for a minute processing what we just saw.
“The driver was that young man who was arguing with the manager by the back door.”
“What, they were arguing?”
“Yes,” my daughter said, “I was watching them intently and I could see by their body language that they were arguing. And then the young man walked away looking dissatisfied.”
“We better hurry and go before the emergency vehicles get here and block the driveways.”
As it was I had to wait to pull out of the parking lot while 4 firetrucks and 6 police cars pulled in.
My daughter snapped a picture as we drove past. You can’t see anything but a couple of police cars, but this story needs a picture or two.
“Now where?,” I asked.
“Just head into Birmingham,” she said.
There are a lot of restaurants in Birmingham, and lots of long waits since B’ham is a popular date night destination. But what the heck.
The hip restaurant we thought we might try is on Old Woodward, upon which I was going to turn left. But the road was gone. Completely torn up in both directions.
“This is turning out to be the anniversary dinner from h-e-double-hockey sticks,” I sighed.
A little out of town is an upscale grocery store which has an upstairs bistro.
“Do you have a reservation?,” the young, pleasant hostess asked.
“Do I need one?,” I asked in return.
“No, but it will be about a 15 minute wait, you can browse in the store and I’ll text you when a table is available.”
As we browsed the bakery section we spotted a wonderful selection of individual trifles.
“Let’s get a couple of those after we eat and take them home for dessert,” I said.
My daughter nodded enthusiastically.
After 30 minutes of browsing and still no text, I had my daughter climb the stairs to check our status.
“We’re next,” she reported back.
It was another 15 minutes before we were seated at a table next to a window with drafty plexiglass seams. I wrapped my winter coat around my shoulders.
A long and hungry forty-five minutes later we were finally sharing her flatbread and my tacos.
The only truly enjoyable part of the evening was the conversation during our hungry forty-five minute wait. She told me about her day, careful to guard the privacy of her patients, as she sipped a glass of wine and I sipped a cup of hot tea.
Dissociative identity disorder. Fascinating.
I looked out the window, it was blizzarding.
“Snow is coming in,” I said.” My daughter looked at me in disbelief. “Feel” I said.
She hovered her hand over the seam. Sure enough.
“It’s better than a car coming in,” she quipped, putting my misery in perspective.
“I’m still thinking about that young man,” I said. “He probably didn’t make a lot of money working there, and his car didn’t look that nice, I doubt he can afford to get it fixed.”
“He was wearing street clothes,” she said, a detail I completely missed, “so he probably wasn’t working that day.”
“Maybe he was there to pick up his check,” I guessed, “and got fired…”
My daughter wondered whether he had driven into the restaurant intentionally.
I didn’t think so, since he kept saying, “This wasn’t supposed to happen…” I thought maybe he was upset and distracted and wasn’t paying attention. Or perhaps he meant to angrily squeal his tires in front of the restaurant and lost control. Or perhaps he was looking in the window as he drove past and his steering followed his gaze.
All we knew for sure was that his bad day got really bad. And we hoped he’s going to be okay.
I asked for the check as soon as our plates were cleared. We had been there two hours and I was ready to go home.
As we descended the stairs to the store I said, “Let’s go get those trifles before we go…”
There was a large, thick black curtain blocking the entrance to the store.
“Oh shoot, are they closed?”
“It’s 9:10,” my daughter said, “they probably closed at 9.”
Missed our desserts by ten minutes, of course we did.
“It’s just as well, I want to get home” I said, as I pulled onto the main road, “I’ve had to pee since we arrived two hours ago.”
“This really isn’t your night,” my daughter chuckled.
“I hope Maxy* hasn’t pooped on the floor.”
This morning I received a text from the hub:
Guessing his will be a memorable, but not magical, fishing trip.
*Maxy is our fifteen-year-old, incontinent hound dog