DiMarco’s Italian Restaurant was packed to capacity. Corsage-wearing mamas and their broods of spiffed-up dandies, fresh from church service, patiently waited their turn to be seated.
Mikey bounced around the waiting area, inspecting the gumball machine and making friends with strangers. Dave and I watched with equal parts amusement and horror.
“Hey, Mister! Can I have a quarter?”
Our precocious four-year-old was at it again. I shot him a warning look from my post behind his brother’s stroller.
“Whaaaaat?” Mikey protested, as he began climbing into the gentleman’s lap.
I guess we’ll have to have the stranger danger talk again!
“I’m so sorry,” I began, sheepishly plucking my child off the man’s pressed dress slacks. “He’s …”
“Johnson, party of four!” The waitress’ call cut my apology short.
“No worries,” he grinned. “I have grandkids.”
“Thanks,” I mustered, grabbing Mikey and shuffling him off to where the family was waiting.
Another disaster averted.
The waitress led us toward the dining hall, our rambunctious son skipping along behind. He came to a dead stop upon spying a rather large woman, her girth hanging out into the aisle.
I willed Mikey to keep his mouth shut.
Keep moving, Mikey.
The silent entreaty was of no use. I watched him open his mouth, powerless to stop what came next.
“Wow! She’s fat!” he blurted out, pointing his pudgy finger in her direction.
Oh, no--he didn’t.
“Shhhh! It’s not nice to say that!” I hissed, trying desperately to salvage the situation.
“What?” he retorted. “She already knows!”
“Heh, heh.” I scanned the room to see if anyone had witnessed our little exchange. The other diners were oblivious, engrossed in their meals.
That was close.
I breathed a sigh of relief, relishing the momentary anonymity until Dave elbowed me in the rib cage. He nodded toward the offended party. She was obviously perturbed with Mikey’s impudence.
If looks could kill, we’d be dead and buried by now!
“Heh, heh…” I tittered, shrugging my shoulders at her in apprehension.
She cocked an eyebrow in reply, dismissing us and returning to her spaghetti.
We slunk into the booth and ordered quickly, hoping to deter any further outbursts from Mikey.
Who knows what little gem he’d have for the waitress?
I stewed for awhile, trying with all my might to blend into woodwork.
Ooh, Mother’s Day. Let’s go to lunch and entertain the public with our oh-so-angelic children and their antics. Whose inane idea was this, anyway?
My mood brightened when the food arrived. DiMarco’s calzones were worth the effort, I decided, regardless of any maniacal family-inflicted mortification one had to endure in order to get them.
We dug in, savoring both the food and the silence that came with full mouths.
I was somewhere between a hunk of buttered bread and a swig of soda when I noticed that Mikey hadn’t touched his cheese pizza. He sat there baffled, trying to figure out how to serve himself. We had forgotten that he didn’t yet have mastery over the use of a table knife. After a few failed attempts, he asked for help.
“Would somebody please cut the cheese?”
Startled, I spewed Dr. Pepper all over the table. “What?”
“Cut the cheese!” He repeated, his volume increasing. “I said, CUT THE CHEESE!”
Dave and I laughed until our sides hurt. Mikey just looked confused, which made us laugh harder. Dave finally took pity on him and explained the odoriferous euphemism.
Understanding washed over Mikey’s face.
“Ohhhhh! I get it! Cut the cheese!” He chortled with glee. “Cut the cheese! Hahaha! Cut the cheese!”
The waitress interrupted his revelry with our check. “Oh,” she said, “the lady over there asked me to give you these.” She dropped her cargo on the table and left to ring up the bill.
There on the table sat a handful of GasX tablets.
I looked up just in time to see the portly woman smirk and wave, her fingers fluttering at us with smug satisfaction.
Next year, we get take out.
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