Avoiding the Crowds

Dearest Rachel –

At dinner last night, the subject of what plans Daniel and I had planned for tonight came up. After a couple of weeks of not being able to get together, due to various illnesses (first – and for that matter, still, unfortunately – Ellen, and then myself), it seemed likely that the girls might be able to join us for a meal or some such – really, some day we need to do some other activity as well, like an arcade, or bowling, or whirlyball or something like that, but we all have this particular need that comes first, I suppose.

But of course, availability is one thing; planning isn’t something that’s much in our wheelhouse, particularly when trying to get everyone together (and to agree on a place and time) is much like herding cats (and if you count the fact that we occasionally have to wait for Ellen to tend to hers, there’s even a literal sense to that). Especially since today is a big day for restaurants and bars…

…as it’s Saint Paddy’s Day, after all.

To be sure, it’s not quite the crowded event it might be in the city proper, with the streets full of revelers, getting thoroughly soused in honor of good old Ireland, but getting a table in a restaurant (to say nothing of a bar – not that we’d be all that interested in one) when such a holiday falls on a Friday – the day when everyone goes out to blow off a little steam already – is going to be quite challenging. Or at least, if you insist on going where the crowds are.

There is, and always has been, a way to avoid the crowds. And I’m not talking about the obvious solution of staying home and sitting in the bedroom by myself. I can only do that so many days in a row before I get sick of it (not that I haven’t been plenty sick already, which has been why I’ve been home alone lo this entire week). Now that I’ve essentially recovered, though, I really want to get out there and have some fun with others – but I’d rather not be waiting for an eternity for a table.

All of which is how we return to the one we were sitting at last night. Because Dad has a story to tell. For all I know, you may have heard it – it certainly sounds vaguely familiar to me, but I’ve been around him that much longer, so I might just as easily have heard it before your time; I don’t know. Still, since I’d forgotten it, I figured I might as well let you hear about it again, and you can take or leave it, depending on whether it sounds like a rerun or not.

The story goes that he was in Washington DC as part of the kitchen and bath show a number of years ago. At the end of the day, he and the rest of the crew wanted to head out for a nice dinner, but as it was St. Patrick’s Day, they couldn’t find a place that wasn’t ridiculously crowded – and therefore, with an insane wait time. I’m not sure who among them came up with the idea – if it wasn’t Dad, it probably doesn’t matter, and I can almost guarantee that it wasn’t him, since he ‘didn’t know the territory,’ as he likes to put it (yes, that’s a “Music Man” reference on his part; he’s always had a fondness for that show, since it features a traveling salesman, even if he does happen to be a con man) – but one of their numbers suggested they go to Benihana; you know, the Japanese steak house. Sure enough, the joint was practically empty. They had absolutely no wait, and a lovely supper together.

So, just like the Jewish tradition of doing Chinese food on Christmas (albeit for very much the opposite reason – they’re the only restaurants that are open on that day), it’s advisable to check out an Asian place on a day like today, in order to avoid the crowds. We even have a place in mind; a sushi place a little ways between us and the girls in Des Plaines (which apparently Erin had recommended some time ago, but back when we had a place nearby offering all-you-can-eat, we must have dismissed it out of hand. Now that ours is gone, we’ve suddenly discovered that this place exists again, and forgot to give Erin credit for it).

For a moment, the chatter in the group text is enthusiastic. Heck, we discuss making this a regular thing around March 17th going forward…

Kerstin even forwards over this shirt for us to wear at some future year’s get together. It’s okay, I guess, but I decide I have something a little more… us… in mind; I just have to put it together.
Yes, I dare say this is more like it. And seeing how none of us would be mistaken for Japanese, the line is the more traditional “Kiss me, I’m Irish.” Not that any of us are Irish, but I understand that everyone who celebrates is automatically given the opportunity to claim to be, at least for this one day of the year.

But then… disaster. Ellen is still battling this… cold? Flu? It’s not Covid – she’s tested herself. In any event, she’s either not up to going, or at least not willing to run the risk of spreading whatever it is she’s got. So it’s just going to be the five of us, apparently. And Erin doesn’t want to go to the sushi place and leave Ellen out. So we have to pick something else, presumably someplace equally short on crowds…

…maybe the food court of the Japanese shopping center…?

Anyway, keep an eye on us, honey, and wish us luck. We’re gonna need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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