Saturday, December 19, 2009


Last night, my nine-year-old and I went out to dinner--just a date between daddy and daughter. We went to Shogun, her favorite place; it's a Benihana style restaurant where the chef cooks the food at your table. She loves the show, especially when the chef spins the egg, flips it in the air, then let's the egg fall on the side of the spatula, halving the shell and leaving it on the spatula but spilling the contents on the grill.

Before the chef begins cooking, the table must be full (it has eight places)--thus we found ourselves sitting with another group. This group APPEARED to be a family, though I could not figure out how one of them fit in. We had: the mother, the father, the son (his birthday), his girlfriend and the fifth wheel. T5W was single, and he appeared to simply be a family friend, or maybe even the birthday boy's biological father. Even weirder, he took off as soon as he completed his meal, and before the bill arrived.

The birthday boy (TBB) appeared to be in his late teens, maybe twenty. He had closely trimmed light blond hair and a week's worth of stubble. His half-lidded eyes gave his face the mask of boredom. His girlfriend was pretty and had a lovely smile. His father(?) seemed friendly enough--a well-built, small 50ish man with a head of graying hair, thin on top, and he wore an earring. He looked like a wrestling coach. The one who interested me most, though, was the mother--she reminded me so much of my own mother, who died in 2000.

This woman had the raspy voice of a smoker, and she spoke a little too loudly, most particularly as she had a cellphone conversation at our table during dinner. That's not to say she was overbearing--instead, she didn't seem to understand some of the subtleties one should observe at TBB's dinner while sitting at the table with strangers. She reached across the table to nibble on others's plates, she made jokes about TBB getting a little action later on that evening--that kind of thing.

What compels me to write, though, is not her lack of social graces. Rather, I must recount a comment she made at the end of dinner. It might have been one of the most breathtakingly, yet inadvertently, rude things I've heard a person say.

A tradition at Shogun calls for TBB to don a kimono and a skull cap that makes him look like a semi-bald samurai. The waitstaff sings a song and takes TBB's picture. On this night, TBB and his girlfriend had their picture taken together--her smiling, him thinking about Halo 2. As the waitress brought the dinner receipt and a copy of the photo to the table, the mother took a look at the photo, rose to put on her coat, and said to TBB, "In 20 years we'll look at this picture and say, 'Who IS that girl?'"

I did not have the presence of mind to look up--I was too embarrassed to look up. Nobody responded. They put on their coats and walked out, as if that's what Mom says at the end of every meal. After they left, I looked at my daughter finishing her Shirley Temple and smiled. I sort of missed my mom.


MC said...

That's an interesting anecdote. My Mom is a bit like that in public as well. Maybe TBB boy will marry his girl to spite his mother. Sometimes I appreciate the reticence of the Japanese.

Jake D said...

People are so strange. To live in a society that lacks a definable culture with history and traditions that help guide our social conscienceness has it's down side, eh?

The Misanthrope said...

You truly have a gift for descriptive narrative! Well done.

Eric said...

Thank you, Mr. Archer.

dave starry said...

If you want, I can loan you my mother. She is guaranteed to say at least three inappropriate things out loud at every restaurant meal.