Pizza Saturday

My husband (aka Loverboy) and I love to eat out.  There are just certain foods that can’t be replicated at home; pizza is one of those foods. And so Loverboy and I found ourselves sitting at one of our favourite pizza joints this past Saturday. Now pizza is a meal that we  could possibly share, however we both like different toppings. I like bacon, green peppers and mushrooms (which Loverboy would never go for except when there are leftovers) and he likes the works ( which I would never go for, ever) so we each have to order our own.  I ordered a six inch (because I have a very small appetite, of course) and he ordered a nine inch because he doesn’t.

We were seated outside on the patio as it was a gorgeous day.  The sun was shining and the patio dining area was filling up quickly with people like us who obviously like restaurant style pizza better than what they can make at home from a box picked out of the freezer.  A restaurant is a great place to watch the comings and goings of the various diners.  Behind us were two men, obviously longtime friends, who were meeting up to have a drink and some pizza and share stories of the good old days.  Now I really wasn’t trying to eavesdrop – the tables were just very close together !  One of the men had his young son with him, a boy of about two or three years of age who was so well-behaved he deserved a medal, or a at least a free pizza (more on that later).

As the mother of two boys, who occasionally took them to restaurants, I know what I am talking about when I describe good behaviour because taking my children to restaurants was always a leap of faith.  My first born was actually very easy and eating out was a joy, however my second born was another story.   A restaurant was a venue just waiting to be explored, and then destroyed.  No linen went unsoiled, no drink unspilled!  It was always such fun and we learned quickly that the only restaurant safe for him was McDonalds.  (The washrooms there proved to be a bit of an issue but that is story for another day!). It was a whole lot less stressful because McDonalds caters to kids, there were no linens to wash and they had staff hovering around to pick up any messy spills.  As well, the price was also right!  When I see couples with an only child who behaves well in a restaurant, I can’t help but think to myself – “just wait you perfect parents until you have another – you will be replacing gourmet pizza with a cheeseburger and fry soon enough.”  If I see a couple with an only child who is not behaving, I telepathically suggest to them that McDonalds might be a better choice next time.

As we were waiting for our pizzas, a man, his face painted as a dog, entered the patio with his young daughter.  I actually had to look twice to be sure I was actually seeing what I was seeing.  It kind of made sense because the little girl had her face painted as a cat. I did make eye contact with the man once but looked away quickly when he gave me a look that said “I dare you to laugh!”  I really wouldn’t have laughed because first of all I wasn’t sure if he had all his shots, and secondly I was quite impressed with the lengths he would go to please his daughter.  Having your face painted like a dog and then going to a restaurant full of people takes a lot of chutzpah if you ask me.  You have to admire those parents who go the distance for their kids! I was left to wonder what his tattoo would look like when she grew old enough to get one, though.

Finally, the waitress served us our pizzas and she informed me that the cook had read her order incorrectly and had made me a nine inch pizza.  She graciously informed me that I would only be charged for a six inch, however.  Donnie’s eyes lit up, not because we were getting more for less, but because he knew I would not eat the whole nine inch which would mean leftovers for his midnight snack.  I have a habit of always leaving the last bite, the last slice, the last sip of anything when dining out.  Not sure why I do it but I think it is my way of saying I have a modicum of will-power. The pizza was delicious and I fought with myself to have one slice left over that the waitress promised to box up.  Just goes to show you that I am always thinking of Loverboy!

When it came time for the bill, the waitress came to the table looking rather chagrined.  She informed us that she had given our bill to the man with the little boy behind us, but that she had been able to rejig their bill so that we weren’t paying anything extra.  It was all a little confusing, especially because she handed me three bills – one for 44.80, one for 40.18 and one for 39.25.  When I looked at each one, I didn’t seen anything resembling our order and when I asked her which one was ours she gave me the one that said 44.80 which included a twelve inch pizza, a soft drink, two beer and a kids pizza. This was obviously the bill of the man whose little boy was very well behaved. Not sure why she gave me the other bills – maybe it was a test to see if I would choose the lowest one, I don’t know.  While I was looking at the bill for 44.80, probably with a very puzzled look on my face, the waitress suddenly grabbed it and the two other bills and said she would be right back.  When she did come back, she told me she had reentered our bill and handed me the updated bill that now said 34.18.  Wow, I saved ten bucks just by getting the correct bill!  And then I realized that the well-behaved young lad had actually gotten his pizza free because his father had paid for our bill which was ten dollars cheaper.  In the end, it was a just reward for the little guy’s good behaviour!  Not sure if the waitress had to make up the money but I made sure to give her a good tip so that it was a little easier to swallow.

After paying for our food, Loverboy and I headed out. He happily carried with him the boxed slice of pizza, dreaming of his midnight snack, while I happily reflected on the fact that I hadn’t paid the 44.80 for our lunch as I was all ready to do so.  It was a win all around!  As my father says, ” a penny saved, is a penny earned” and I think that counts in this situation even though I really didn’t save anything, but you get my drift!

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On Your Mark! Get Set! go!

My first post-retirement activity was probably not what you were expecting and I know that many of you pictured me sitting on a beach somewhere, a long tall glass of liquid refreshment in my hand and Donnie (aka Loverboy) spraying my back with sunscreen (SPF 80). Well, that scene may come in time but it was not the first place I landed. I spent a week, sleeping on an air mattress in my parent’s apartment at the Parkland in the Valley Shannex. Yup, I went straight from retirement to the old folks home!

This post-retirement stay at Shannex happened because my father, age 84, had a hip replacement. He has suffered with pain for several years but was reluctant to have surgery because he was fearful of leaving my mother alone to deal with things by herself because she has limited mobility. He has been her caregiver for over 40 years since a bad back surgery took the wind out of her sails, figuratively and literally. Once I announced my retirement a few months ago, my father, directly after congratulating me, told me he needed me to come and stay with my mother so he could have his surgery and he booked his date two days after I actually retired. He obviously was very anxious for the surgery! So much for rest and relaxation; that will come later I guess, since I now have all the time in the world.

Now Shannex is a senior’s residential facility with several buildings. My parents live in the residential suites because they can live on their own (with some assistance) and it is quite nice. I have not been to many senior’s homes but I have seen W5’s stories on the horrors that you might find at some so that is my context. Your meals are made for you in the “five star” dining room (five stars given in comparison to the food you might be served in prisons according to some of the residents, although I found the food quite tasty), there is limousine and bus service available for trips to Walmart and other exciting places and there are many fun games like bocci ball, bridge and backgammon. I hear there is even a mean game of forty fives played daily in the main lounge.

The biggest thing I noticed while at Shannex was the large number of walkers that are parked in the dining room at meal time. It is a virtual collection of every type of walker known to man. If you are not using a walker, you are in the minority. Thankfully, I am not yet needing a walker and will continue my walking and squats routine to ensure I don’t end up there in the near future. Anyway, while looking at all the walkers parked in the dining room, I got the idea that a walker race in the parking lot would be a great idea. (Darn auto correct keeps changing “walker race” to “walking race” – Apple’s employees obviously are not old enough to recognize the word “walker race” as a thing!).

I scoped out a start and finish line and plan to broach the idea with the residents once they put their hearing aids in – yup, I have learned that many of them also can’t hear well. Thankfully, I am not needing a hearing aid yet and will continue to keep my iPod at a reasonable volume while doing my walking and squats so that I don’t end up there anytime soon. I really think this race would liven things up at Parkland in the Valley and could even be replicated at other Shannex facilities around the province. It could even become a national pastime and maybe even an Olympic Sport. Of course, participants would have to sign a medical waiver and show that they actually need a walker (I know those not needing one might want to pretend and sandbag the whole shebang).

Can’t you just picture it? White haired ladies and bald men (whose hair now grows in other places) lapping around the parking lot, pushing those walkers with zest and zeal, the smell of Ben Gay permeating the air. Winning medals and then heading straight to bed to rest up for the next event, in a week or two. Anyway, I predict it will be epic. I am planning on heading back to Shannex later this week so I am going to take my proposal with me and share it with the powers that be. I am sure that it is something that will really interest them and will cause a lot of excitement among the residents. Can’t wait to yell through my bullhorn “On your mark! Get set! Go!”