Mom has a long history of having trouble and causing trouble in restaurants. She often embarrassed my sister and me when we were younger, but Dad has always seemed resigned to the fact that Mom may cause a scene. I guess he’s had a long time to get used to her. When they were in high school (yes, they were high school sweethearts!), having lunch together, Mom finished her chocolate shake, sucked the straw dry and then thought it would be fun to blow through the straw in Dad’s face. Apparently she hadn’t done a very good job of cleaning out the straw, because she sprayed chocolate milkshake all over Dad’s face and the front of his shirt. At least he knew early on what he was getting into when he married her!
For Mom to get out of a restaurants without a stain on her “shelf” (aka: large bosom), is a small miracle in itself. My kids love to recall the time she had a large scoop of ice cream for dessert…chocolate, of course. She stabbed her spoon into it to taste her first bite. She should have gently scraped off a bite instead of stabbing, because the thrust of the stab merely caused the entire sphere of ice cream to pummel into her lap. She casually remarked, “Oops!” and picked up the scoop of chocolate and put it back in her bowl. She seemed so nonchalant about the whole thing that the kids were stunned into silence for a moment, and then all burst out laughing. Mom just shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “No big deal. Happens all the time!”
I can’t even count the times that Mom has spilled, tripped, choked, fallen into an uncontrollable laughing or coughing fit, and started food fights. Yes, even nice restaurants are not off-limits to Mom if she gets the urge to throw a piece of food or ice at someone (frequently me, I might add). Sometimes I am shocked at her behavior, but mostly I just try to pretend I don’t know her.
Sometimes looking the other way or ignoring her isn’t enough, and more drastic measures are called for. For example, Mom, Dad, Kari and I were eating in a nice family restaurant. We were near the end of the meal, and all had gone reasonably well, without incident. Then someone said something that sent Mom into a giggling fit. I have no idea what was so funny to her, but often no one knows what she finds so hilarious that she laughs until she cries and can’t breathe. Well, this particular time, Mom had a bite of food in her mouth at the moment that she started laughing. Her shoulders jiggled in silent mirth, her face turned red, and the tears started to roll down her cheeks.
Kari and I stole glances around the restaurant to see if her behavior was observed by anyone. So far so good. But then her laughing turned into silent coughs. We could see that she was coughing because she no longer bounced up and down, but now lurched her head back and forth. She sort of looked like someone dry heaving, or about to throw up. With horror, I realized that she not only looked that way, but she was actually going to heave! Now, if anyone else were having this kind of trouble at a dinner table, I would be concerned and offer my help. But Mom did this type of thing often, and I wasn’t worried about her well-being. I knew she would be fine once she stopped laughing.
And then the inconceivable happened….Mom could no longer control her coughing, or her very sensitive gag reflex, and she actually threw up on her plate. I think my eyes may have really bugged out, but it didn’t take longer than two seconds to know what I needed to do. Get out of there! Kari had the same reaction and the two of us were up and out of our chairs and out the front door as quickly as we could move. Safely distanced from the scene Mom caused in the restaurant, we peered through the windows to see what would happen. Dear old Dad, so accustomed to Mom and her zany antics, patiently stayed with her, helped clean up the mess, and then paid the bill so Mom could leave, too.
Even as Mom walked through the exit, she was desperately trying not to laugh.
“Are you going to barf again?” I asked incredulously.
That was more than she could handle and the laugh she had been trying to contain burst from her like an explosion. Barely able to form words, she managed to say, “You and Kari sure got out of there quickly!” So overcome by the hilarity of the situation, Mom was scarcely able to stand up and it was a small miracle that we made it to the car without any further embarrassment.
Poor Mom. We just can’t take her anywhere!