The grandkids survey their food and think. Looks good. Just what I want. Except for one thing. Where is the tomato sauce?
A waitress hovers protectively.
Kay: “Tomato sauce.”
Grandfather Alan: “Can you please the waitress politely?”
Kay: “Please can I have some tomato sauce.”
Me: “That’s good. Perhaps you could take it a step further. Perhaps you can educate her. Tell her that chips and tomato sauce taste really nice together. Perhaps she will learn something. You will get to help her. Get to make her life better.”
Kay: “You should eat tomato sauce with your chips.”
Bruce: “They are my favourite food.”
Bruce: “Hands up if you like chips.”
They all put their hands up. Without hesitation.
Now I can say: “Hands up if you have your hands up.”
They look at each other and think shall I humour the old man.
I then say: “Hands up if you like potato.”
No hands go up.
I tell them that chips are made from potato and they all think: We know chips are made from potato. We know chips taste better than potato. Everybody knows that except old men. Which means more chips for us.
The waitress returns with some tomato sauce and says: “I will try tomato sauce and chips. Sounds good.”
I look at the clean tables, sugar shakers, the expectant chairs, the indoor plants and ask them do you remember the last time you came here.
Bruce: “I am here when I was a baby.”
I then say: “Well when was that?
Bruce: “Last week.”
I could attempt to educate him but he is distracted by my plate.
Bruce: “Look grandfather has finished his food. He was racing.”
Grandfather Alan: “I was not racing. Take your time. Eat slowly and enjoy your food.”
Bruce: “There is food on your face. You have smashed food on your face. You should put it in your mouth not on your face.”
Kay: “I will get you a tissue.”
She is up and prowling the glass food display cabinet holding homemade cakes and muffins. On the counter are some bottles full of water and a pile of tissues. She grabs a tissue and brings it back to our table.
Kay: “Wipe your face. And be careful next time you eat. Don’t rush.”
I wipe my face.
I am happy. They are embarrassed in public by a dirty retired old man’s face. They care about the old man. They care enough about me to tell me off.
I don’t like the subject of dirty faces so I say: “That is a long chip.”
Kay covers it in sauce and slowly sucks it to death.
Kay: “Chips are my favourite food.”
I say: “What about chicken?”
Kay: “Chicken is my favourite food.”
I don’t know how many favourite foods she has. I know she has three best friends but my eyes wander to the staff in the kitchen. They are active, busy, bending, stirring, decorating plates and preparing more favorite food.