Chad and I went to one of our favorite restaurants in one of our favorite towns last weekend. Imagine a cove, quiet and rocky, with a little cottage on a cliff to the right and nothing but grass and birds on a cliff to the left. And ahead there is ocean, ocean, and a little more ocean, with some sky at the end. Sometimes a sailboat slowly whispers across. That is where we were, sitting at a copper topped table at the window, the sound of silverware and plates and clinking glasses and chatter with some laughter stirred in around us.
We ordered enough food for all four seats at the table and proceeded to eat it all, slowly, smiling. I had scallops grilled with bay leaves and orange rind, and grilled corn and a beautiful green salad with mustard vinaigrette. Chad's calamari had chick peas and paper-thin slices of lemon battered and fried with the calamari itself. Everything was just so good. I had this overhelming feeling of gratitude while sitting there, full of all of this food and scenery and just plain old happiness.
We had been there some time when the mother and daughter sitting at the table next to us finished their meal and got up to leave. They stood, and the mother turned and pointed at my grilled corn. And she said exuberantly:
"How was THAT?!"
It took me a second to answer her, because I swear to God, if her fingernails had been one day longer, she would have been touching my corn. She was that close. I finally stuttered that it was amazing, and she turned to Chad and said:
"And how was the Peekytoe crab?! I saw you had that!"
But Chad had his mouth full and couldn't answer. Because we were EATING DINNER. So I said:
"Actually, that's the buttermilk fried chicken."
And she said, still exuberant:
"No, I mean his appetizer!"
"Oh, that was the calamari." I tried to smile, but I was really distracted by her hands floating over my food.
The woman's face literally turned to stone. "No! It was the Peekytoe crab!"
And here is where I had that slow-mo cartoon moment, where I stood up out of my body, everything frozen around me, and took a good hard look at the situation. Then I sat back down into my body, looked at the woman, smiled really really big, and said:
"Oh RIGHT, the Peekytoe crab. It was great!!!"
The color came back into her face, and she clapped. "Oh, I'm just going to have to get that, next time!"
Then she and her daughter shuffled off, and I thought about how completely ridiculous that last minute of my life was. And then I thought about my mother (no, not because my mother is like that, but because she isn't). My mother is a stickler for manners--and when I say stickler, I mean there was never a time when manners didn't matter. They always mattered. ALWAYS. My mother and father took us to "training nights" at restaurants when we were little, where, if we were not behaving well, we were brought outside and told very firmly how we should be behaving. And then we went back in and did so.
I always found these manners extremely annoying. But I can also say that the older I got the more I appreciated them. And now I know, because of last weekend, that I am officially old. I am an old person who wants everyone to have manners and not point their fingers at my corn.
PS: I didn't take this picture. But this is really the place.