It was Valentines Eve, Friday the 13th, and after 6:00pm, which is the height of dinner time rush hour in restaurants all over the valley, but I was paying no attention to those details. All I knew was I needed a specific salad with ranch dressing and the only place that had the salad I wanted was a family-run diner – that is nearly a historical monument, solely based on the longevity of its existence – in the seediest part of town where hookers and drug dealers are terrifyingly simple to find. I was ignoring that, as well. My body was craving this salad, really wanting it and nothing was going to suffice but that salad.
So… off I went… alone on Valentines Eve and Friday the 13th and after 6:00pm, when all the other people would be out and about and eating at tables with other people. I didn’t care that I was going it solo. I wanted that salad.
The restaurant is located on the southeast corner of a tragically busy intersection in a parking lot they share with a strip mall housing questionable businesses with mostly darkened or curtained windows and an apartment complex of equal questionability. There is, at least, 200 parking spaces in the general area of the restaurant and all of them were full. A ten minute drive around and around the parking lot, waiting for someone to vacate a spot, did not deter me from that salad. I kept giggling every time I checked in and asked my body if we could get a salad elsewhere and it would grumble in a Fat Bastard-esque voice, “No! I want that salad and I want it NOW!” So, around and around I went, laughing and marveling at myself and this adventure I was on until someone finally left their space – a good block and a half from the restaurant.
I know it’s the worst possible part of town to be walking around late at night and ALONE, at that, I thought to the more logical side of my brain that was, apparently, not hearing the demands of Fat Bastard and was, instead, screaming at me about gangsters and dumpsters, But we really NEED to eat THAT salad, so off we go.
I got out of my car and put on a big grin and strode purposefully toward the restaurant. If anyone saw me, I hoped they would think I was truly confident and had absolutely no fears about being alone, in the dark, in that part of town, even though I was shaking in my boots.
I stepped into the restaurant to discover people waiting in the gigantic lobby. Now, mind you, this is a two-floor restaurant (the basement being for private parties) that is designed with an open floor plan that could house a ball in the lobby that is situated between two sprawling dining rooms that are as large as basketball courts. And on that night, there were people waiting in the lobby and every table was filled inside both dining rooms. The hostess assured me it would only be a couple moments.
No problem. You guys have THAT salad.
Minutes later, I sat down at a small two-top, snuggled in the corner and hidden beyond a table of a family of twenty noisy people. Fat Bastard was happy because that salad was imminent, and in the near future. I settled in, got out my Kindle and opened up to where I had left off reading in Dan Brown’s latest novel, Inferno, and soon became lost in the story, paying absolutely no attention to the fact that there was no napkins, utensils, or food on my table, and no server at my side for quite some time.
Hungry! Fat Bastard yelled at me and I glanced at the time on my phone. I had been sitting there for fifteen minutes without so much as a glass of water. Hmmm…
As if she, too, could hear Fat Bastard’s complaining shout, the brand new waitress – only three weeks on the job and the one who was waiting on the gigantic family behind which I was hidden – showed up and apologized profusely about the long wait and begged forgiveness in a voice that was breathy with fear. I smiled reassuringly, feeling no rush or pressure, and ignoring Fat Bastard who was growing impatient with the small talk.
Fat Bastard felt happy once the words “Ranch Dressing” were out of my mouth and I felt relaxed, sinking back into my book and ignoring the fact that it took another fifteen minutes for the standard first course to arrive which was clam chowder, that was gross and grainy. But… no worries, we weren’t there for the soup. And thank goodness the book was good because I paid no heed, although Fat Bastard was marking time, to the fact that it took another twenty minutes before that salad showed up, but there was much internal rejoicing when it did.
And it was so worth it!
I don’t know what it is about their salads – they aren’t really special and they have baby green peas on them – but, damn! They are good and Fat Bastard did a happy dance.
We ate every last bit of that salad and I had to restrain Fat Bastard from slurping our tongue along the plate to get the last of the salad drippings, but everything I had gone through to that point had been worth it just for that salad.
I kept reading my book, paying no attention to the time until I had a sneaking suspicion that I was going to be dramatically late for my game night gathering. Glancing at my phone’s clock again, I discovered that it was 7:22pm. I had arrived at 6:20pm and I still didn’t have my main course. Things were getting a little crazy and I was already 22 minutes late, but I didn’t feel pressure.
Four chapters later, the main course showed up at 7:42pm! and I nearly laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of what was going on and how much I was willing to go through for a damned salad. Dinner was good, though, and I ate slowly, still immersed in my book and enjoying every taste and texture, finished with the customary ice cream that comes with their dinners, paid, and left.
As I stepped out in the parking lot, wondering about and giggling at the string of events I had experienced that night, a car came barreling through and squealed to a stop prior to squashing me. The driver frantically waved apologies at me and indicated I could go through. In other times, I probably would have been incensed that he had been so recklessly careening through the place, but after all I had gone through to get that salad, I burst out laughing and waved him by, indicating he could go through – since he was bigger and more deadly than I. He laughed and waved me through and I waved him through and then we both, laughing hysterically, did a little car-pedestrian dance before I dashed off, laughing all the way to my car.
Getting in behind the wheel and verifying that my door was locked – cuz that will keep me safe from the assortment of bogeymen that prowled that area – I laughed until I cried. I was amused by every aspect of the evening and even more amused about the fact that I continued to choose into patience and laughter.
That night, I really wanted that salad and no other salad was going to to do, so I had a choice to make. I had an opportunity to have a really horrible night or to go with what was happening and make the best of it. If I was going to have that salad, I had to be willing face and go through whatever it was that presented itself to me so that I could go the distance. Attitude makes all the difference in your experience – especially when whatever you want is beyond a few obstacles that must be conquered so that you can get that salad that Fat Bastard is craving.
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