My day began (well, the exciting part, anyway) when I was opening the front blinds this morning. It was hard to miss the big cat carrier and bag of cat food sitting on the front porch. At first, I thought that maybe Bonnie and Caleb had gone out of town and left their cats with us. But then I quickly thought, no, they wouldn't do that to me... much less their cat!! I opened the front door and as soon as I saw it, I knew. There was a note on top of that cat carrier. I felt a big sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as I came to the realization that someone had actually dropped their cat off on my front porch! The note was simple, yet gave all the important details about Zodiac. The sick feeling in my stomach wasn't going away, and I really couldn't handle being around him too much, because I didn't want to get attached to him. He also stank. Shallow of me, I know, but after sitting in a carrier all night, which I knew he had been because he and the carrier and the note and the bag of cat food were all soaked in rainwater, and he also had the distinct odor of... other stuff... on him. I brought him in, and Griffin kept asking me questions about where he came from, what would we do with him, was he scared, why did somebody leave him on our front porch, would we take him to the same place we took the tiny baby bunny we rescued a few weeks ago, and pretty soon I just needed to leave the house. I couldn't get ahold of anyone connected to any animal control or rescue places, and was getting frustrated. So I sent out a big mass e-mail asking if anyone knew of someone who wanted a cat, packed the boys into the van, and left the house.
When I got back home, my head had cleared, and I even had a promising e-mail from a friend who works with a lady who helps animals find adoptive homes! She will pick him up tomorrow, which means he has to put up with us for one more night, but now that I know he'll be finding a good home soon, I can rest easy. -- Just a note, today is Sunday and she still hasn't picked up Zorro yet, so we're still waiting!!
Well, the rest of the afternoon was fairly uneventful. Sammy woke up early from his nap, which is totally unlike him, so I got to spend a couple of hours with just him before Griffin, the Birthday Boy who turned three years old today, woke up. Sammy wanted to snuggle, give me lots of little puckered-lip kisses, and talk on the telephone. Yeah, it was a good afternoon. :) Bonnie and Caleb even came over (they had taken Bonnie's birthday off -- yes, it's Bonnie's birthday too, she turned thirty this year) and stayed for a while to check out Zodiac, whom I have nicknamed Zorro because of his many skillz with his claws. He can even open cabinet doors (provided they do not have child safety locks on them). He also scratches. I think he's just scared, which is completely understandable after a long, wet night away from his home, and a big, black dog who snuffles around his carrier a bit too often for his liking.
This evening was an amazingly eventful time also. Thanks to my wonderful, loving, adorable, kind-hearted sister who babysat Sammy for us (is that enough brown-nosing? I don't think so), Mike, Griffin and I got to take Bonnie and Caleb out for a wonderful dinner at Brio Tuscan Grill on the Plaza. It was interesting, to say the least!! I had made reservations for seven thirty, but we didn't end up getting to the restaurant until eight thirty because of a longer-than-usual massage (Bonnie's birthday was worth the extra time!), a very amusing jaunt up into a Plaza parking garage (we should have realized we were in for trouble when the people coming out of the garage were waving wildly at us and shouting something unintelligible) which abruptly ended when we and all of the cars following us realized that we had ended up at a wall and the only thing to do was back, caravan-style, down the curvy ramps to freedom, and then culminated in a few blocks' walk to get to the restaurant (Bonnie still didn't know where we were going, but figured it out on the walk there. Then we waited for about twenty or thirty minutes to be seated. Griffin opened his present, a Leapfrog laptop, while we waited, and it kept him entertained. We had gotten a bit tired of waiting, so Bonnie and Caleb decided to use the restrooms, which they said is a scientifically proven way to get your buzzer to go off and be shown to a table. Try it sometime. Just wait until you think you can't possibly wait another minute, and then send one or two people from your party to the restroom, and watch the magic happen. It worked for us! No sooner had they left our sight than our buzzer started lighting up and vibrating. We got a good laugh out of that. Luckily, the table we were seated at was right next to the restrooms, so Bonnie and Caleb found us easily when they came out.
So we settled ourselves in and, having already looked at the menu while waiting for a table, placed our order with our server, a nice black lady who would have had a big 'fro if it hadn't been pulled back into a cute bushy ponytail. I'll call her B, because I have no idea what her name was, and the restaurant's name started with a B. Creative, aren't I? Well, B was a good server, but I'll bet she was glad when we left. And she probably didn't laugh about our experience quite as hard as we did. Let me explain...
We waited for our food to arrive, and while we waited they brought out baskets of fresh bread, and these triangular cracker-like wafers with flax seeds and rosemary, which were so flavorful and yummy! The bread was delicious too, but there was only one minor problem. The one lonely butter pat they gave us (elegantly displayed on a clean white plate) was almost enough for Mike to butter his bread with. So we requested some more. B brought out two more pats after we had waited just long enough for the bread to cool down so that the butter wouldn't melt nicely on it anymore. We finished our drinks while waiting for our food, and B refilled our water glasses and graciously offered to bring Caleb another Dr. Pepper. Only when Caleb tasted his new drink, he made a face when he realized it was, heaven forbid, DIET, and after sniff-tests by Mike and Bonnie, it was decided that yes, it definitely was diet and would have to be replaced. Caleb told B when she came around again that he needed regular, not diet, and she graciously took the drink away and brought him his Dr. Pepper.
We had received our salads by this time, but as Bonnie and Caleb came to realize after a few bites, the kitchen had failed to leave the onions off of their salad (they had split one), as Caleb had requested. So they told B nicely that there were onions on the salads and that they would really like salads with no onions, and she, now a bit flustered, took the salads away, saying it would take them literally just a few seconds to make new salads with no onions on them. She came back a minute later, and Bonnie only found one onion in hers, so they were happy. The dressing was even put on the side, to show them that the second salad had been made especially for them.
I shared my salad with Mike and Griffin, because it was too much to eat all by myself, but boy, was it good!! I had been looking forward to this salad ever since I had been to Brio the first time, with Bonnie, several months ago. It's called Bistecca Insalata -- a big hunk of lettuce with lots of crumbled bacon, chopped tomatoes, gorgonzala cheese, and a creamy Parmesan dressing. They give you a big steak knife to cut it with. Mike and Griffin really liked it too, but I think I was the only one moaning with pleasure.
We finished our salads, with Griffin happily playing away on his new laptop. (Before you think we over-indulge our kids, let me tell you that the "laptop" only cost $19.95, less than a third of what our dinner cost, and it was worth every penny! Both the dinner and the laptop were.) The food arrived shortly after, and we dug in hungrily. Well, all of us except for Griffin. There had been a mix-up of some sort, and his much-anticipated macaroni and cheese did not arrive with everyone else's food. We asked the guy who had brought out our food, and he apologized and hurried back to the kitchen, saying he would check on it. After about five minutes, and after watching him deliver food to two other tables, we knew he wasn't going to bring out the macaroni, and we flagged B down and asked her about it. I could almost hear her growl as she scurried away from the table to track down Griffin's birthday meal. She brought it back a couple of minutes later, apologizing profusely.
We had been eating for a little while when I checked my watch to see how we were doing on time. (I had called Christy, who was babysitting Sammy, on the way to the restaurant to let her know that we wouldn't be getting back until about 9:30 because we had gotten a late start.) OH MY GOODNESS!!!! I gasped as I realized it was 9:40, ten minutes AFTER I had said we'd pick up Sammy, and we hadn't even had dessert yet! (Not to mention the fact that it would take us thirty minutes to get home, and another ten to get to her house.) We had told Griffin that we'd be getting a special dessert because we were celebrating two birthdays, and B was already planning on bringing it out to us, so we felt like we should wait for it.
I tried to call Christy at her house and at mine, thinking that maybe she had taken Sammy home and put him to bed since it was so late, but no one answered at either place, so we plodded along with our meal, getting antsier by the minute and thinking about how upset Christy would be with us because we were "taking our sweet time" while she was waiting with a child we were sure was being a holy terror.
We had requested four of our meals to be boxed up, and were waiting for both the desserts and our boxed food to be returned to us. B brought out Bonnie's boxed up pasta and my leftover pizza, and then asked if Griffin was done eating yet. Well, poor Griffin had received his macaroni much later than the rest of us, and then had to wait for it to cool down before beginning to eat. His reaction when I attempted to steal his plate: hold on for dear life and don't let her take it away!!! I started to pick it up and asked as I did so "Are you done, Griffin?" He looked shocked and quickly said "NO!" and grabbed his plate. He drew it back toward him and calmly set it back on the table as we all cracked up, holding our sides and laughing.
We discussed what flavors of gelato we wanted, and settled on raspberry sorbet for Bonnie and Caleb, and mocha for, erm, well, for "Griffin". And me. It was SO GOOD. I would go back just for the mocha gelato! And Griffin's mac 'n cheese was pretty darn tasty too. Even the second time around. Yes, I ate his leftovers for lunch the next day. Tee Hee!! I gave him a few noodles, don't worry, he wasn't deprived. But we almost didn't get to take our mac 'n cheese leftovers home with us, because B forgot to bring it back to the table. When she came to bring us the bill, I asked her about the leftovers, and she once again hurried off to the kitchen, bringing them back a few minutes later. It's a good thing it took her a few minutes, because otherwise she would have heard Caleb's hilarious comment, followed by various sound effects and uproarious laughter, about how it probably wouldn't matter if Griffin's leftovers had been thrown away, because they most likely had a big vat of mac 'n cheese just bubbling away back there in the kitchen. (This might only make Bonnie and Caleb laugh, but I have to...Bloop.)
We finished our gelato and waited and waited and waited, and finally she brought back Mike's credit card and our leftovers (apparently NOT from the big vat, because she brought back Mike's leftovers too, which I had forgotten about) so that we could sign and leave. Mike made it a point to go talk to her as we were packing up. He made sure she knew that we appreciated her service. She apologized profusely for everything that had gone wrong, but he assured her that it had been a fun experience for all of us, and that we knew she had done everything in her power to serve us well. She got a good tip.
We walked back to the van and climbed in. As I strapped Griffin into his seat, he looked at me with sleepy eyes and said "Mommy, I'm tired." If you know Griffin, you are probably laughing your head off right now, because he never EVER admits that he is tired.
Okay, just when you think the story is over, it gets even better.
So we're driving away from the restaurant, and this dude in a dark van is leaning out of his driver's side window *While He's Driving* -- I'm talking both shoulders and his head outside the van while he's going 50 miles an hour -- "with his elbow hanging down to the hubcap," as Bonnie put it. We debated for a minute whether it was his hand or his elbow, because it was hanging down so far that for the average person, it would have been the appropriate place for a hand, but as we got closer to him we realized it was, in fact, his elbow! He must have been rather tall. He appeared to be following a little red car full of teenage girls. They didn't seem to acknowledge the fact that he was risking life and, uh, "limb" (sorry, I couldn't resist) to stay as close to them as possible. Fortunately for us (and our amusement), the red car and the van turned onto the highway with us. As the van passed us, I got a good look at the Hangman, and we laughed all over again as we caught the deathly serious look on his face, combined with dark sunglasses!! The car and van switched places a lot; sometimes the red car would take the lead and sometimes the dark van would be in front. It was like a curious gangly teenage sunglass-wearing dance. We laughed the entire way home.
Griffin must have been kept awake by our talk of the Hangman, because he was still awake when we pulled into the driveway. Mike went to Christy's house to pick up Sammy. I had talked to Christy on our walk back to the van after we got done eating, and she had assured me that Sammy had been asleep since nine. I still felt bad, because I knew we were keeping her up way past her bedtime. Anyway, as I took Griffin's shoes off and prepared to take him upstairs, he looked me in the eye and asked "Mommy, can I go night-night now?"
"Yes," I assured him, "now you can go night-night". It was eleven o'clock.