Sunday, December 30, 2007

Table For Two

Tam and I took ourselves to a meal at International House of Pancakes one afternoon. We were ten or so; I'm sure we weren't twelve. I don't remember how we decided on IHOP. It wasn't a restaurant her family or mine frequented, and there wasn't one in the neighborhood. There was one on Geary and Fillmore, and we had to take two buses to get there. That neighborhood wasn't the best in those days, and this was back when kids like us didn't take the bus by ourselves anywhere.

The more I think about this the more I wondered how we pulled this off. I didn't receive an allowance, so I had to ask Mom for the cash. Tam's house was across the street from mine, so the simple deception of "I'm going to her house" wouldn't have worked. I'm fairly certain that we weren't allowed to take Muni alone, though that may have been an unspoken rule, since we were so young where would we go that we needed to take a bus?

Tam and I sauntered into the restaurant, stood up straight, and politely asked for a table for two in the nonsmoking section. We were aware that it was unusual for kids to be in a restaurant without any adults, but we knew that we were old enough, and, more importantly, sophisticated enough, to comport ourselves properly. We knew how to act and eschewed the crayons and children's coloring menus.

Tam ordered the Swedish crepes (her mother was English, and Tam always had a European sensibility), I ordered silver-dollar buttermilk pancakes with bacon, and we both asked for milk. While we were waiting for our pancakes, I examined the four kinds of syrup on the table, maple, strawberry, boysenberry, and blueberry. I'd never heard of boysenberry syrup and determined that I would try it when my pancakes arrived.

The waitress put our plates down, we clinked glasses, and I started to pour a small amount of boysenberry syrup on my pancakes. The lid came off the syrup carafe and boysenberry syrup drenched my pancakes and spilled over the edge of the plate and onto the table. I immediately tried to sop it up with our napkins, getting syrup all over my hands and wrists. Tam flagged down a busboy, who brought a wet rag and he cleaned the table while I went to the restroom to wash.

While washing my hands I didn't really feel embarrassed that this had happened - it could have made a mess for anyone. I knew that Tam and I had been so careful to behave properly that we couldn't be blamed for the mess.

Still, the syrup spilling is probably why I remember this meal.

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