I had the strangest evening tonight at the Broad Ripple Brew Pub.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, for hubby and I, the Brew Pub is sort of our place. (Well, really, it’s his place, I guess I just married into it.) It’s the closest thing hubby has to a “local,” a traditional Irish public house near your own home that you frequent so much they know you by name and drink preference. Hubby and I met for the first time at the Brew Pub, in fact, on our auspicious first blind date. I was both impressed and slightly alarmed that the staff all greeted him by name. Three pints of strong microbrewed ale followed and the rest, as they say, is history.
But I digress… Hubby’s been on yet another business trip, so baby and I decided we would venture out tonight to the BP for dinner and some (for mommy, much-needed) social interaction. We always see someone we know there, and I was hoping some of our regular circle would be in attendance. When the weather’s nice, as it was today, the gang usually congregates just outside the entrance to chat and partake of the lovely house beverages.
On the approach, I saw several folks I recognized, but more of hubby’s acquaintances than mine. The few friends I had texted about coming out were not able to join us, but I decided to make the best of it. After all, baby and I were already out and that was half the battle won.
Baby started squawking for his dinner, and I was getting hungry myself, so I put my name in for an outdoor table. The hostess seemed a little surprised to learn it was just me and the bambino, but as I’ve written about before, I have no problem dining out on my own, and I knew the baby would certainly keep me busy enough.
We were seated toward the back of the outdoor tables on the nonsmoking side. I pulled baby’s stroller up next to me and fed him his strained vegetables and cheese puffs, stealing sips of my chardonnay in between bites. In typical fashion, he ended up immediately throwing every item I gave him in an attempt at appeasement onto the floor, which I retrieved as quickly as possible to keep the wait staff from stepping on said items.
As I was trying to keep baby amused and waiting for my pesto chicken sandwich to arrive, a 50-ish couple entered, stage left. You know how when you’re on a plane and the seat next to you is empty… You sit there waiting nervously, watching every passenger come on board, silently praying that you don’t get stuck sitting next to some annoying chatty Cathy or some weirdo who falls asleep and drools on your shoulder? That’s exactly how I felt tonight.
I heard them before I saw them; a wispy woman dressed in a bright yellow flowered dress, wafting perfume, with a blond updo and lots of makeup, trailed by a graying, mustached average Joe wearing glasses, shorts and a polo shirt. If I’ve ever seen a woman who screamed “high maintenance” without ever opening her mouth, she was it. The woman was complaining, none too quietly, to the hostess that she wasn’t getting precisely the table she wanted because it was too hot for her to sit in the sun. I saw that the hostess was intending to herd them into the seats at the table next to me, which was shaded, so I wasn’t sure exactly what she was bitching about. For some reason, she suddenly changed her tune and said the table was fine.
The poor waiter, I could nearly see his shoulders rise as he approached their table. First, she insisted on making a big deal about asking if the pub still had the “Lawnmower” ale, apparently trying to impress her date by letting him know she was really in the inner circle here. (Which, of course, they do, it’s one of their signature items.) Then she tried to order for her date, quizzing the waiter about the other brews, even though each is detailed in fairly good length within the menu itself, as he so politely pointed out.
“But YOU’RE the waiter,” she said. “YOU should be able to tell us…”
I could actually see the waiter bristle at that. Finally, she insisted on having the waiter bring her date a sample of her choice so he could make sure he really liked it before committing to a pint. Now come on. I got the feeling at this point that this was her date and average Joe was really just along for the ride.
I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation; this unlikely duo was obviously on a first Match.com or some such date. It was all “so, what do you exactly” and “how did you get interested in that” chit chat, mostly her asking the questions and then proceeding to go right ahead and keep on talking instead of waiting for an answer. The woman also mentioned her ex-husband several times in rapid succession, and she had the most insincere fake laugh I’ve ever heard. She had sort of a new-age hippie vibe going on as well and talked a lot about living in California. No surprise there, really.
Amid all this enlightening banter, I was trying to keep baby amused with flagging success. At one point, he let loose with two or three ear-splitting squeals, as babies are sometimes apt to do. Not angry squeals, just “hey, I have a voice now and I’m going to use it for fun” squeals.
I uttered blanket apologies and quickly leaned over to hush the baby as a few other diners around us looked our way and smiled nonchalantly. Except for High Maintenance.
“Excuse me, is that your child?”
Uh, no, I just enjoy taking random babies out to dinner. Of course it’s my child, bimbo!
“Yes. Sorry, he just likes to squeal sometimes,” I think was my reply.
“Well,” she said pointedly, “WE like to talk.”
I was so flabbergasted, I couldn’t even respond. Did this bitch REALLY just all but tell me to keep my baby quiet so she could carry on a conversation about God knows what kind of superficial insanity? Yes, yes, she did. She and Joe went back to their scintillating exchange as I silently seethed.
Now, I totally respect the fact that not everyone is automatically enraptured with my baby, and I don’t expect them to be. However, he is only one year old! Cut him, and me, some slack if he wants to screech a little! He wasn’t wailing or throwing a temper tantrum. He is a well-behaved little guy for the most part, and I expect the people around me to weather his few-and-far-between outbursts with a certain level of tolerance. I felt this woman was totally out of line. After all, we were outside at a family-friendly dining establishment, not to mention the fact that every few minutes, a Harley roared by on the street not 20 feet away from where we were sitting.
My meal arrived and I proceeded to eat as fast as I could while wrestling the baby on my lap, both of us getting angrier by the minute. I was halfway tempted to pinch him and make him squeal again on purpose, just to provoke High Maintenance to say something else and give me a valid reason to go off. But alas, she kept her many opinions to herself, and Joe.
Baby was getting pretty hot and restless at this point, so I paid my tab, loaded him back into the stroller and prepared to leave. We had to pass the table of doom on the way out, and as I wheeled by, High Maintenance nearly leapt out of her chair, all smiles. Which creeped me out.
“I just wanted to tell you, you have the most precious baby! What’s his name?”
Uh, what??? I figured maybe she felt bad about jumping all up in my grill, so I went along with it.
“How ever did he make that adorable sound with the straw?”
I explained as patiently as I could that while he was chewing on a straw earlier for sheer entertainment value, the squealing noises he made were just him. She looked dumbfounded, convinced that he’d discovered some miraculously clever party trick.
“Does he like hockey? I could get him season tickets… Larry Bird was my neighbor.”
For real, lady??? This was getting weirder by the second. I couldn’t get away fast enough, although now I’m dying to know how the date wound up in the end… I gave a wave to the regulars as I passed through the parking lot heading toward the car, and thus ends my long, strange Brew Pub evening.