So many families go out to dinner together and enjoy a nice, quiet evening. The children are seen and not heard as the adults converse over neat and tidy cocktails. They enjoy their meal with impeccable manners, and come and go quietly and politely. Let’s just get something straight – that is not my family. It isn’t that my family doesn’t have manners or that they don’t know how to act. In fact, when necessary (for example, in Church), they behave just fine. But the truth is that we like being together, we enjoy those times that we can share a special evening together, and we definitely let loose and have a good time.
On more than one occasion, we have endured stares and dirty looks from other restaurant patrons when our laughing has been, shall we say, a tad bit too loud. Okay, several decibels too loud. But those nights are, without a doubt, among our favorite memories. A few months ago, a friend invited us to a restaurant where he was playing guitar as mood music. Afterward, he asked us not to come back next time. All right, he was kidding, but he did have a very hard time keeping a straight face and playing his classical guitar while we were cracking up in the corner. To be fair, the restaurant was terrible. The service was the worst ever, and our meal was served almost three hours after we arrived, so who could blame us for getting a little punchy?
This summer, our family took a vacation to Canada. The girls had never been, and Ken has wanted to do this drive for many years. It was a crazy route that took us from Maryland to Albany to Greenwood, Vermont, then to Stoddard, New Hampshire as well as Freeport, Augusta, and Bar Harbor Maine. And that was just the first weekend (thank Heaven for campers). We then scooted up the coast through St. John’s in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Percè, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto, Niagara Falls, and finally back into the States with a stop in Buffalo to visit my Godparents. More than once, we entertained waiters and waitresses as much as ourselves with our raucous behavior.
In Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, our waiter, James, at the Old Fish Factory joined in on the fun and earned himself and his restaurant a five-star rating on TripAdvisor (okay, the food was truly spectacular as well). In Quebec City, our young, Egyptian waiter was more than amused and began spending extra time at our table laughing and joking around with us. However, we hit our peak on the evening drive between Ottawa and Toronto. Trying to make it to our campground before it got too late, we opted to head out of Ottawa before dinner and stop to eat when we couldn’t take the wait any longer. Along Highway 416, we spotted a sign for Brigadoon Restaurant and decided to take a chance. Oh my gosh! What a treat! The restaurant was charming, the food was delicious (I highly recommend the rack of lamb), and the wait staff was wonderful. Unfortunately for the rest of the clientele, we were tired from a long day in museums and walking around the city, and we were pretty hungry. Those are not good combinations for us. Where most families might encounter meltdowns and whiny children, that combo only ups our ante of jokes, making fun of each other, and just having a good time. The staff was great and didn’t seem to mind our good humor, which we find to be the case more often than not.
There may be some who look down on us when we’re enjoying one of those nights, but it’s all in good fun. And as the waitress said at Brigadoon, “We’d much rather see sisters who make each other laugh than ones who fight all the time.” Of course, that sent all of us into a fit of laughter knowing that she hadn’t been in the camper with us earlier in the day. The bottom line is that given the choice between children who sit quietly and and chew properly but don’t experience the true joy of being a family or children who stick out their tongue to show their food and laugh so hard they can’t take a sip of water, I’ll go for the latter any day.
Amy Schisler is the author of two mystery / suspense novels. Her first book, A Place to Call Home is in its second printing and may be purchased in stores, online, and through ibooks. Amy’s next mystery, Picture Me, will be released in August of 2015 and will be available in stores and online. Her previously published children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad may be purchased in stores and on Amazon.