A FUN FAMILY NIGHT OUT
While my wife Elizabeth was in Australia visiting family, Mike, the oldest of my three grown sons, and his twin sons, from the mainland, joined me at our Hawaii home for a week. It was a lot of fun and reminded me of my days living in a frat house. When Elizabeth returned she exclaimed, “This place is a pig sty! Did you keep livestock in the house while I was gone?” She immediately went to work cleaning up the place. We felt a little sheepish, promised to celebrate her return with dinner out tonight and then made ourselves scarce until she got the house back in order. We took the kayak down to Kailua Beach and enjoyed the day.
A lot of funny and entertaining things happened during their visit, but the one thing that stuck with me was when the boys and I went out to dinner at the local pub, a favorite spot for fish and chips.
We got a four-top table next to the busy kitchen and placed our order, three platters of fish and chips and one loco moco for me. Loco moco is a heart attack on plate popular among the local’s. It is a couple of fried eggs on top of a heap of grilled onions, on top of a half-pound crispy hamburger patty, on top of a double scoop of rice. A generous dollop of thick, brown gravy smothers everything. A few minutes later the waitress returned and said, “We can’t make any more loco moco, the kitchen is out of rice. I thought, This is Hawaii, rice is the common staple. Nobody runs out of rice. There is something wrong in that kitchen. I told her, “That’s okay, substitute bread for the rice.”
I wanted a beer, but I didn’t know what kind, and asked the waitress, “What do you have on tap?” She rattled off about thirty beers, and I asked her a lot of questions, Like, “What’s an IPA and which ones are they? What’s a lager, and which ones are they? What’s Bud light? What’s a brown beer?” The place was busy, and she was getting a little annoyed with me. After about ten minutes I said, “I’ll have water, thank you!” She rolled up her eyes and put our order into the kitchen. Normally the food comes out quickly, but not tonight. Something was going on in the kitchen. The Vietnamese chef and the Korean sous chef were getting into it, screaming loudly at each other. At one point, the chef yelled something derogatory about his helper’s mother and bolted out of the kitchen, cleaver in hand. His sous chef followed him out into the parking lot where a major altercation ensued just outside our window. The chef hollered, “I quit!” He threw the meat cleaver at his helper, mounted his old Vespa motor scooter and disappear into the night.
That’s not the funny part. The best part occurred when the sous chef returned and continued to fight with somebody unseen in the kitchen. He managed to complete three out of four of our orders that the chef had started, and little miss sunshine delivered them to our table. A few moments later, he also shouted, “I quit!’ He charged out the door followed by the manager, who returned alone. The boys and I were enjoying our dinner, but my impatient son, who was starving, had no food. He waited about ten minutes, complaining bitterly to anyone who would listen, and then approached the kitchen to see what the problem was. It was empty, and the manager was on the phone, apparently looking for a new chef. Mike demanded to know where his fish and chips were. The manager lied, looked into the deep-fryer and asked, “Please return to your table Sir, your order is coming up.” Mike got a glimpse of the overcooked fish and said, “Forget it, I’m not paying for that. I’m leaving.” He stormed out of the kitchen and ordered us to get into the car.
Calmer minds prevailed. I was enjoying the excellent loco moco and I wasn’t about to leave. I told Mike to sit down and we would share. He begrudging did so and glared at the waitress every time she passed by the table. Just as the rest of us finished our dinner, the now surly waitress plopped Mike’s burnt fish and chips on the table along with the bill.
That set Mike off. He looked at the check and exploded. She responded, “You ordered it, you pay for it, Mister! I don’t give a damn if you eat it or not!” I told Mike, “Relax, I’ll pay for it,” My grandson interrupted and said, “I just bought this sixteen-sided dice in Chinatown this morning. Lets’ all shake for it. The lowest score buys dinner.” We all agreed. One kid tossed a twelve, another threw a seven, I rolled a sixteen, and Mike tossed a one. We all laughed as I handed him the check. That was the ultimate insult. He begrudgingly paid the check, headed out the door and walked home. I looked at the bill; it was eighty dollars. He left four twenties in the folder, no tip.
That wasn’t the end of the story. At the birthday / welcome home dinner that I promised Mom, Mike smirked and said, “What goes around, comes around, Dad!” He called the waitress over and ordered a fifty-dollar, three-pound prime rib for himself. When the waiter brought the check, I grinned and asked, “Did anybody bring the dice? Let’s shake for dinner!” Mike smirked, excused himself and went to the bathroom. We all had a good laugh, and I paid the check.
*** THE END ***