Monday, September 26, 2005

A Bizarre Little Birthday Party

Today was my son's 21st birthday. I remember his birth quite well, because things didn't go so hot with it, but in any case, I have quite a handsome son out of it, and mostly in his right mind, too. And, I lived to tell about it.

As the years go by, things seem to just get odder and odder with our family. It's almost like a frond of ivy that tries to push its was out into the sunshine by threading itself through a wall, and out the other side, into someplace with no sunshine at all. We don't intend to be this way, it's just the way we are. Completely unintentional, I assure you, but we begin to raise eyebrows I hear.

Since my husband had to be gone this week, we chose to celebrate Ian's birthday last night. As is our custom, he had the choice of restaurant where we would eat, and he chose a Japanese place called Kokoro. Before, he thought it would be nice to go to the local drive-in, Dog 'n' Suds. But the weather was too rainy.

We got to Kokoro, and it was open, so that was good. On the door, however, there was a sign which said, "We do not serve Japanese Food. We serve Tony's Food." Well, OK, Tony, whomever you may be, but it smells Asian in here.

Then I realised that not only had I forgotten my hearing aids, but also my glasses. That meant that not only could I not read the menu, I could not hear anyone read it to me. I thought what I might try was pointing and grunting when the waitress appeared. But my husband had a brainwave, and held the menu up across the table for me. That worked for the titles of the dishes, sort of, but the description was lost. I discovered I could read the menu, sort of, out of the corner of my eye, if it was held firmly by my daughter Meg, seated next to me. But I still could not get the descriptions, so since she was closest, she bellowed them into my ear.

Then the waitress brought us a basket of some long things wrapped in cellophane. I was hungry, and eyed them meaningfully until Rich caught the hint and started to say grace, but got something caught in his throat and coughed loudly for some time instead, so I prayed (not for him, though-- I forgot, in my eagerness to glorify God for Ian's life, but Rich survived to take his trip anyway). As soon as we were done, I palpated the wrapped items gingerly, not wanting to ruin them if they were fragile rolls of some Asian sort. I found they were warm! I said, "Gee! These seem to be like long rolls-- they sort of feel like warm fingers!" Ian snorted, and Meg rolled her eyes, but I carefully undid the wrapping, hoping for some lovely Asian bready thing. Ian stopped me. "It's a washcloth", he cautioned softly, afraid I would mistake it for an alien bread item and try to eat it anyway, which I probably would have, I am so open-minded. I wiped my fingers carefully, disappointed.

After the family had gotten over this, the waitress brought our salads and soup. There were no spoons, and only chopsticks, so I puzzled for a moment as to how to consume the soup, but then Ian reminded me that one politely drinks it from the bowl in Asian restaurants.

To my amazement and horror, my soup, all by itself, began to move slowly across the table! It did so in tiny little increments, headed for the salad as though it hated to be alone. The awful thing was that no one else saw the soup move. I squeaked in surprise, but my family was having too much fun making fun of me to look at it for themselves, and whenever they did, the thing stopped moving! No kidding! No matter how much I insisted, they would look only for a moment and then start to make fun of me! This was serious! Ian began to say, "Mom, you are the loudest person in this restaurant tonight!" Meg chimed in, adding, "You are so squirrelly tonight! What is with you??" Finally I got everyone to try to take me seriously and fix on the bowl-- and finally, then it did move right in front of all their eyeballs! They had to believe me! Meg looked as though she were about to convulse. Rich squinted at it professionally, and declared that it was floating on a thin layer of moisture, and that the slightest move would set it moving. It was a clear broth with something in it that looked like a yellow cotton ball, so I was cautious. The thing had already behaved oddly, how did I know what Tony did to his soups?

It wasn't that great, but the salad was pretty good.

After that, things calmed down a bit, mostly because the food had arrived and we were digging in and found ourselves victim of hot Asian spices. So we kept ourselves busy drinking ice water, and fanning our tongues, and wondering why we hadn't brought Kleenex.

You know, we never did see Tony. However, the back of the menu tells Tony's story. Apparently we ate at the restaurant of a man who dropped out of high school and travelled the Asian world, on who knows what. Apparently Tony also has a leg that is one and a half inches shorter than the other. The menu says he limps, which is fine with me, so long as he didn't get that way learning to handle those sharp Asian knives. The only other things we noticed were two: there was a large and very nice mural sized reproduction on the wall of Hokkusai's famous wave, looking as though it wanted to murder the poor fisherfolk in several boats. It's the sort of picture that makes you glad to be in the Midwest, but it is pretty, to be sure. The other was that all the watiresses were very, very thin. I pondered this aloud, and Ian only said, "perhaps you'd rather have waitresses who are waddling tubs of lard?"

We got home and I took out the Heath Bar cheesecake I'd baked for Ian, but no one was around. They were all in the bathrooms. All of them! What does it mean? Should I call Tony? I mean to say, there's cheesecake waiting here, and I'm alone with it.
After about ten minutes the others wandered in, subdued, and Meg announced she wasn't feeling so good. Rich said he wasn't feeling so wonderful either. Ian only said he'd had to "go" since before we left.

I felt fine, myself. And the cheesecake got its due. And today, on Ian's real birthday, we ate Kokoro lefotvers, which tasted better, and some more cheesecake, and Ian opened his presents.

And that was the end of that.

I think.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, what an adventure! Squirrely, indeed.

Happy birthday to Ian!

Tomorrow is Jason's birthday and I'm making a plain ol' cheesecake, at his request, but we'll have strawberry, caramel and chocolate sauce on hand, for them as wants it. ;)



11:52 AM  
Anonymous Angie said...

Wow, this must be birthday with cheesecake week. My husband's birthday was Sunday; we celebrated with a delicious chocolate marble cheescake (no, I didn't make it, otherwise it probably wouldn't be delicious!) I think our celebration wasn't nearly as interesting as yours, however.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Anne said...

So how is everybody feeling now?

5:30 PM  
Blogger craigellachie said...

We're all fine. Whatever it was, it wasn't Tony's Food. We just ate leftovers for the second night, and that, I think, will be enough.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Heidi said...

WHAT a funny story! I laughed and laughed! I can just picture you, trying to read the menu out of the corner of your eye! hee hee

Happy Birthday to Ian, late.

9:54 AM  

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