like to cook. Scratch that. I like the idea of cooking.
I have cookbooks for low fat, no
fat, and don’t-ask fat. I like to look at them. I even mark an
occasional page that makes my taste buds tingle and my stomach gurgle
in anticipation. But as far as actually making a recipe?
I’d rather eat other people’s
cooking. Restaurant cooking. And since it’s summertime, and the last
place I want to be is in the kitchen, our family does our part to
further the restaurant economy. From burgers to barbecue, fettuccine to
fajitas, give us a lot of good food for a good price and we’ll be
there, appetites idling.
When I was growing up, going out
to eat was reserved for special occasions like Mother’s Day, vacations,
or the time when the oven broke. But based on the waiting times at most
restaurants, the modern family thinks any day is Mother’s Day. And
Father’s Day. And kid’s day. Obviously, I’m not the only one who has
But eating out as a family must
be handled wisely. “A person’s wisdom yields patience” (Prov. 19:1a).
Patience is imperative in the process, so let me share my wisdom with
some Rules of Restaurant Waiting that may come in handy when your
stomach (and your family) threatens to growl.
1. Timing is
everything. If we get to our favorite restaurant by 5:00
p.m., we can walk in like we own the place (we should own at least four
restaurants by default). Get there at 5:30 and we have to wait an hour.
Get there at 6, make it a two-hour wait. Arrive at 6:30? Better bring
our jammies and fuzzy slippers. I’m sure there’s a break in the waiting
pattern as the evening wears on, but that’s for the
dinner-is-a-bedtime-snack set to find out. Our family motto is “Feed
Mom at five.” I’m less cranky that way.
2. All waiting rooms
are not created equal. The waiting rooms of some restaurants
hold three people comfortably—or four people if you don’t mind a
stranger’s chin skimming your earlobes. These restaurants are obviously
not prepared for today’s chow-down attitude. Other waiting rooms
resemble a bus station. Rows of benches line the walls, warning you (if
you’re astute enough to put two and two together) that these benches
were meant to be filled with famished bodies. Of course, outside is
good. Unless it’s raining, 103 degrees, or a wayward tornado is rushing
3. To vibrate or
vociferate? That is the question. Some avid restaurant-goer
invented the vibrating pager. Kids argue over who gets to wear these
modern-day wonders. They clip them on the waistbands and strut around
like they’re waiting for an important call from their brokers.
If not a pager, we listen for
“Moser, party of five!” being sung over the intercom. But while we’re
eating, we tire of hearing others called to seating.
So . . . we vote for good
4. Don’t drool on the
diners. Learning to wait for anything is wise. But waiting to
eat tests the Golden Rule because honestly, the point to conquering
restaurant waiting is to get the other diners done with their food and
outa there so you can pounce on their table.
key is to position yourself within staring distance. Or drool over
their shoulders. Having your teething infant do the drooling is even
better—especially if the infant is crying with that high-pitched wail
that is usually reserved for airplanes and the silent prayer during
church (was there ever a question about what the congregation is
When the diners have finished
the main course and get that look in their eye like they might consider
dessert or an after-dinner coffee, that’s when you start your
laser-beam stares. Have the kids move as close as they dare and put on
their waif faces—the ones patterned after the movie Oliver,
where the poor little orphan holds up his bowl and pleads, “More,
please.” Guilt is the leading cause of indigestion—and the impetus for
many a timely exit that opens up a table.
5. To expedite the actual
eating, look at the menu while you’re waiting. Know
who’s going to share what with whom. Who’s going to eat my french fries
while I get their salad. Who’s going to get Dad’s pickles. All
negotiations, pleas, and deals should be finalized before you sit at
the table. Actually, at our favorite restaurants, this step is
unnecessary because we tend to order the same things. Even our youngest
could order for the entire family, down to the Diet Cokes and the
multiple sides of ranch dressing. Of course, there’s always the wise
guy (usually my husband) who says, “I think I’ll try something
different tonight.” His statement is greeted by a bevy of moans because
we know he’ll do no such thing. Our taste buds are finely tuned
creatures of habit and they don’t venture willingly into a new dish
that might make us wonder what we were thinking. God may like variety,
but the Mosers prefer a sure thing.
I’ve been a bit facetious here,
but the point remains summer is all about togetherness, God is all
love, and family meals can be a time to extend that love to one
Pass the ketchup, please.