Another Birthday Dinner Debacle…

Another Birthday Dinner Debacle…

The evening started off pretty well.  The kids were behaving, it looked like the rain was going to hold off, and despite the crowd, we were seated quickly at one of our favorite Italian restaurants, Johnny Carino’s (yes it’s a chain, and yes – we still enjoy it immensely).    Then there was a small tremor in the Force.  We waited for our server – and we waited – and we waited.  Right then I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that we were in for a terrible dinner.  How did I know?  Simple – it was my birthday.  Dinner on my birthday is ALWAYS a disaster.

I guess disaster might be a bit strong. Let’s me put it this way – going out to dinner on my birthday is one of those traditions that we have stumbled into along the way.  We don’t really plan it in advance, but we try to go out for a nice dinner.  At some point over the last few years, my birthday dinner has become an exercise in bad service, bad food, scared children, and vomit.  Yes – I said vomit – and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that vomit and dinner is a combination that never leads to anything good.

We’ve quite a few interesting adventures over the years. There was the last time that we tried to go to Johnny Carino’s on my birthday.  My father bore the brunt of the pain, as they butchered his order three separate times – ensuring that he didn’t get his meal until everyone else was finished eating – including the kids.  Then there was the dinner at Texas Road House where our seemingly European waitress (who was really quite polite), had absolutely no idea what mayonnaise was.  No clue (and no clue what “mayo” was either, for those keeping score at home).  It very amusing, watching my sister-in-law trying in vain to explain to her the chemical make-up and consistency of mayo; hoping in vain that she did know what it was, but knew it by some more obscure name from the old country (perhaps “Sour Sauce” or “Chicken’s Pudding”).  No luck.

But none of those dinners can hold a candle to my birthday meal at the Ninja Japanese Steak House.  Once we get my parents and my brother’s family all together, we can be quite a crowd.  So, one year I decided that it would be a good idea to go to one of those Japanese steak houses where they cook the food right there at your table.  We could all sit easily together and have fun.  My kids and their cousins were all under 6 years old, and I thought that they would enjoy the show.  I could not have been more wrong.

Things went downhill from the very beginning.   When the chef came out to start the meal, he doused the grill with oil and lit it with a flourish.  The resulting fireball not only scorched our eyebrows, it also scared three of the children so badly that they leapt from their seats, screaming in terror, and ran to hide behind all of the adults.  Only my daughter, not yet two, sat quietly and enjoyed the show.  The chef, not speaking good English, did not understand that we were asking him to tone it down.  Instead, he ramped up the action and put on a fireworks display that would have been right at home in a magic show at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas.  My youngest niece was already so scared that she was clinging to my sister-in-law with an iron grip.  As the chef moved to light the Mt. Vesuvius of all flaming onion towers (you’ve been to these restaurants, you know what I’m talking about) – my niece was finally pushed over the edge.  As the flames danced high enough to singe the oven hood, she proceeded to vomit all down the front of my sister-in-law’s shirt and pants.  The chef kept right on cooking, 2 feet away, oblivious to the carnage going on around him.  Bon Appetite!  I can only imagine that my niece will grow up with a healthy fear of vaguely Asian and/or Hispanic men, wearing tall white hats and burning onions.

Yes, we’ve had some drama over the years, and tonight turned out not to be that much different.  The service was bad, I had to send my food back once, my son’s pizza was wrong, and I had to go get my own refills on Diet Coke.  On the plus side – no one threw up, nothing was set on fire, and there was no need to even discuss mayonnaise.  And – when it was all over – the manager comped our entire meal (we didn’t even get that much love from the Ninja Steak House).  It’s become tradition to have a bad meal for us, so I almost look forward to it now.  At least I know that I’ll get to suffer through dinner with the people that I love the most – my family.  I would much prefer a bad meal with them, than a great meal alone.  And hey, now that we raised the bar and gotten a free meal out of the birthday dinner curse – maybe we’ll have to go somewhere really nice next year and see what we can score.  Mazzio’s Pizza anyone….?

© 2010, The Word Zombie. All rights reserved.

3 Replies to “Another Birthday Dinner Debacle…”

  1. I love it! Not that you had a bad time but craziness of it all. Sounds like Christmas with my family. I could write a book on the scary gifts I get each year. One year, not long ago, one of my aunts gave me a several pairs of used sunglasses wrapped in green cling wrap. So every Christmas I am terrified to open gifts but have perfected the “Oh I like it” look on my face. And yes, I would love some Mazzio’s Pizza 🙂

  2. Oh my gosh… I just found your blog.. I was reading the wonderful, loving write up you did on Phil Harris and his boys.. you really captured the essence of the whole show.. I cried and still cry over our loss and the boys loss… I lost my mom two years next month.. and they truly will never be the same.

    Then I read your birthday post… that is the greatest loved it.. I needed that laugh. 🙂

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