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9:33 a.m. - August 21, 2006
Our Dinner At Applebee's
Our Sunday School class chipped in and gave us an Applebee’s gift card in the sympathy card they sent us about Liz’s mom, so Saturday night was a good night to gather the troops and head on out south of town to the local Applebee’s for some fair-to-middling eatin’ in the neighborhood.

Well, it’s within 5 minutes of our house, anyway.

Now, taking a 14 month old to any restaurant is always a challenge, but Applebee’s at least tries to be friendly to those of us with l’il chillun. The one here in Crawfordsville is smoke free, as far as I can tell, and they are pretty attentive to the needs to kids, with room for high chairs and neat kid’s menus with crayons. And, actually, for a chain restaurant, the kid’s menu is pretty decent, as they offer healthy sides (broccoli and celery are among the choices) and you can get a grilled chicken sandwich and white milk.

It’s not health food, but it’s better than McNuggets.

So, off we went. We got there a little after six, and were able to be slotted into a table almost straight away, which was good. The restaurant was a bit busy, but we weren’t really in any hurry.

We ordered our drinks (milk for Katie, water for me, wine for Liz (I was driving)) and then were deciding what to order. Katie had a choice of about four or five entrees and finally made her choice – a hot dog. We got some macaroni and cheese for Kristin and tried to keep her occupied with some Cheerios and her sippy cup as we waited.

Katie was a little impatient, but not unmanageably so, but she had to go potty and of course that’s when the food came. Well, everyone’s except Liz’s shrimp teriyaki, which seemed to be delayed a bit. I guess Bubba Gump was slow on the delivery.

Now, I had the riblets, but I do not understand the serving vessel they use for the riblets. It’s like a high rise plate that sits 6 inches or so off the table top. You have to get used to it a bit, but nothing will keep me from my riblets. Well, almost nothing. Heh.

We made sure Kristin’s macaroni was cool enough, but then Katie started to complain. She had wanted macaroni, she said. Liz said that she had made her choice and had to eat her hot dog and celery. But there was too much macaroni for Kristin, so we gave Katie a lot of it.

And because Kristin was liable to pick up the platter that the macaroni was on and wave it around like she just didn’t care – we had to put the macaroni on the tabletop so she could pick it up with her fingers. Of course, Kristin wanted a spoon as well. And of course, half of the time she was dropping macaroni, Cheerios and her sippy cup on the floor.

Liz’s shrimp finally arrived, and Katie was intrigued. She wanted to know why she Liz didn’t eat the tail. Liz said because it wasn’t good, but Katie wasn’t convinced. But, Liz gave Katie a shrimp, de-tailed, and Katie liked it.

We all were happy with our food, well, as happy as you can be with Applebee’s. Actually, it’s pretty good. Katie ate most of the macaroni and her hot dog and at least three or four stalks of celery. Where did it all go? And she still wanted dessert.

I was stuffed and Kristin doesn’t need desert, so Liz and Katie split a piece of one of the Weight Watchers dessert choices. While waiting, I did some scouting about, and well, the things you see in the Crawfordsville Applebee’s.

First, I spied some people leaving a table at the bar. Mind you, I believe this is a smoke free restaurant – at least I saw no one smoking. But as they stood up, the two “gentlemen” got smokes out and lit up. So they couldn’t even wait to walk outside, they had to smoke RIGHT then!

One was a bit rotund and balding a bit. He had some scruff on his face and was wearing just a ‘wife beater’ t-shirt. I think he had a shirt in his arms, but still.

It’s not a five-star restaurant, but geez, you go out to eat and you decide, “Wow, it’s too hot. I think I’ll take off my shirt and just wear my undershirt for all the ladies to drool over my tattoos and my beer belly.”

The other guy looked like a sub-human version of Ethan Suplee (Earl’s brother on “My Name is Earl”, except with glasses and bangs. Ok, so he didn’t look much like him, but I don’t really have much of a frame of reference for his look. He was basically a square with no neck, though. Not as in L7 square, a square.

The ladies they were with? One was a dirty-dishwater blonde that looked like she stayed in the tanning booth for 2 weeks straight. She was with Mr. Wifebeater. The other was a redhead that had big ol’ State Fair hair. She was rather much square shaped as well, and somehow got herself into some purty pink stretch pants. Oooh-la-la.

Stay classy, C’ville. Stay classy.

As dessert was brought to us, and Liz and Katie were having a good old time consuming it, the staff was putting together some tables close to us for a larger party. And when they were done, that party was seated.

It was a family-type unit, and there were two small kids with them. One was about six, and the other was a girl that looked like she was two. It looked like a husband and wife and grandmother as well, but it was hard to really tell.

The little girl got a booster seat, and being two was all kind of wiggly and squirmy. The older looking woman (grandmother) told her to “get her butt in that seat”, and then, as the little girl stood up and wriggled again, forcibly yanked her right back into the seat.

I then saw the girl had a pacifier in her mouth. At age two – she had a pacifier? Now, was it for comfort, or the fact that she would babble without it, I don’t know. But Katie and Kristin both were off of pacifiers by six months. Sure, Kristin will still suck the index and middle finger of her left hand (just those two fingers, and only on the left hand) but a pacifier at two? I don’t know about that.

Anyway, after basically yelling at the child and slamming her back into the booster seat, the mother / grandmother saw that the little girl was playing with one of the menus. Now, you give a child at that age any type of anything, and they’re going to play with it in all sorts of manners. But for some reason, this lady didn’t like this little girl playing with the menu, so she snatched it out of her hands and then shoved a kids menu into the hands of the little girl.

Fortunately, at that time, we got our check, paid up using the gift card and our debit card (and I left a proper tip, of course) and we scooted out of there.

Katie, very observant and prescient, was all over the lady, saying that she wasn’t being very gentle or polite to that little girl and was hoping that she was OK. I think she knows how we treat her, and yes once in a while the voices get raised but we are always very proper with her.

Liz had the great observation that parents need to have reasonable expectations when they bring kids into a restaurant. A two year old is going to be a challenge, and you just have to live with Cheerios and macaroni on the floor, and a mangled menu.

Heck, I think you could live off of what drops on our kitchen floor during the day. Thank you, Swiffer.

 

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