Several weeks ago, J bought an Indianapolis Monthly magazine and actually read it. I'm always pretty impressed by his initiative. It would never occur to me to go to an outside source to learn about where I lived. This is why I lived in Columbus, Ohio for a year before I realized that they had a fairly important college football team. I thought all the people wearing scarlet on Saturdays in the fall were members of some sort of cult.
J is not content to let the important parts of the city come to him. (That plan has not really worked that well for me, either). In terms of this particular issue of Indy Monthly, that meant that J was on fire to try the best fish and chips in the city. As of Wednesday of this week, we had not taken (evening) advantage of the fact that J was off work, and as we walked out of the gym together that morning, J suggested that we eat fried fish and potatoes for dinner that evening. (We refrained from our hearty doughnut breakfast--we didn't want to undo our good work at the gym).
We do not yet have a babysitter, and LO is still fairly portable (although his accessories are not), so at 6:30 that evening (aka, LO's bedtime), we packed the kid in the car and headed off for Brockway Public House in Carmel. Our fuzzy thinking was that LO would drift off in the car and sleep angelically throughout our meal.
We were wrong on so many counts.
First, LO decided that a disruption in the embryonic bedtime routine of bath then book then swing then sleep was not okay by him. Since the radio wasn't working, we couldn't even turn on some tunes for fast calming for our little music lover. Eventually, the soothing movement of a 17-year-old Volvo going 65 miles per hour on Route 65 south was enough to quiet him. Until he got hungry.
We arrived in Carmel at about 7:45 with a screaming baby.
We then received our second reality check. When hearing the name "Brockway Public House," J and I both had this mental image of a wonderfully dingy hole in the wall owned by a kindly, red-faced barkeep who had not lost his brogue and who would dote on LO while his wife dished up the fish and chips made from a recipe passed down from generation to generation. What we found instead was a strip mall/condo hell that caters to the upper middle class twenty-somethings who manage to make me feel like I'm 13 and wearing my jeans without the correct French roll to my cuffs. The Public House was in fact one of those restaurant/bars that looks as if it comes directly out of an "ethnic" restaurant catalog. "The basic model includes Guinness posters, but for an extra $1000, you'll receive several 'authentic' Smithwick mirrors, suitable for placement over the bar." There would be no kindly barkeep to tell me the benefits of using whiskey for a teething infant.
It was while I was feeding LO in the parking lot that it struck me that we were about to BRING A BABY INTO A BAR! While we had joked several times about taking LO to a bar, it had never occurred to me that we would actually be the parents who did so.
Once LO was fed, we soldiered bravely into the noisy fray. For the first time ever, no one made a happy fuss over LO in public. The host suggested we might want a table in the back for "the little one." As we made our awkward way to a semi-enclosed booth, I realized that there was a benefit to eating in such a noisy place. If LO lost his sh*t there, the noise would just blend into the background.
The waitress came and took our drink order. She just managed to conceal the horror on her face as she realized that the large object on the table was in fact a car seat, and the car seat in fact contained an infant. She left to get our drinks and J leaned in to me. "The waitress does not approve," he whispered.
"Not even a little bit," I agreed.
LO began to fuss, and I took him out of the seat to cuddle him. Once in my arms, he whipped his head around to the left and right, taking everything in. What was this magical place? It was unlike any other place he had been! (To be fair, this is true of almost every place that LO goes.) The disapproving waitress came back with our drinks, threw them on the table, and only reluctantly took our order for two fish and chips plates. I imagine she went back to the kitchen and lamented her luck in getting the irresponsible parents in her section. I determined we were going to give her a big tip, although why her disapproval should translate into a big tip isn't clear. But awkward recognition of disapproval will do that to me.
As our meals came out, two couples came in followed by their three boys. The boys were around 10 years old, and I let out a sigh of relief. We weren't the only bad parents out there! Disapproving waitress came back and I could see her shoulder visibly slump. "Why did I get the family section?!" I could almost hear her wail.
In a way, I felt vindicated by the arrival of the 10 year olds, although their parents seemed to be equally disapproving of the fact that we had a baby there. When I forgot a bottle on the table as we were getting up to leave, one of the wives called me back with a terse "Ma'am! You forgot something!" She didn't smile when I thanked her.
Now, Indianapolis Monthly was correct that the fish-and-chips was excellent. Unfortunately, I was not able to concentrate enough of my energy on enjoying it, between holding a squirming child in one hand and watching the waitress and other patrons sharpening their pitchforks. J, who seems to enjoy the process of gentle and harmless social alienation, suggested that perhaps I should have breastfed LO at the table to complete the tableau.
"Only if I'm drinking whiskey by the shot at the same time," was my reply.
Because if you're going to do something wrong, do it right.