Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A rough night at Chik-fil-A

I drove to Chik-fil-A right after work to meet the rest of the family.  I wanted to take advantage of spring break at work and the lingering spring daylight in the air to get some reading done.

There were dozens of other people ranging around the counter, desperate to order. I looked at my watch and decided to take a gamble: I ordered a milkshake to consume before the kids arrived and I would have to share. I sat down at a table and settled into a New Yorker article about teenage sex offenders (hard to focus on amidst the noise of kids yelling, people chewing, chairs scraping the ground). When the employee delivered my shake I hoped he wouldn't glance at my article and see an unfortunate word or phrase.

The restaurant filled with kids and families from one of the Christian schools down here.  Soon A and B came bounding in, with L hoisting J in her carrier just behind.  Shamelessly I pushed my empty milkshake cup away from me and got up to find a table for all of us. Reader, I littered.

We managed to secure a four-top such that I was sitting directly in the path of the sun.  A blade of light was stabbing into my eye as the thrum of people around us raged on. The kids were tired and fickle; B blocked the doors of the play area and A whimpered when it was time to eat.  My salad was virtuous but unpleasant on top of my hastily-consumed milkshake. I had succeeded in not sharing but I was paying a price.

A few minutes later -- after joylessly eating dinner, after the kids suffered around us, as the sun sat resolutely in my line of sight -- we left.  I went back to my previous table and retrieved my milkshake cup to throw away. I explained to the women sitting there why I had abandoned it and they laughed politely.

We staggered out into the Maryland evening. There are five of us now, L and me and three kids, the latest one, Josephine, born in November. She looks like Alice with Barrow's blue eyes. I walked L and the kids to the minivan -- also new; also, burgundy -- and packed them up and went back to my car. As I got closer to home I rolled down the window and listened to the music, work work work work work, the milkshake heavy in my gut, the money we spent on dinner frittered away. Inside the house the kids were fragile and irritated, always on the brink of crying or else fully over the cliff, but soon enough they would be asleep.  Three kids in a bedroom, the humidifier whirring, three warm bodies damp and restless in the night.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

You're back!! Hi!! I must confess I have abandoned my public blog for a private one filled with fiction writing.. and some "fiction" that is just days rehashed with a few extra details inserted. Anyway - its nice to see you here again and if you are ever interested in writing with my friend and I on our writing blog let me know! I we turn something in once a week - be it a short story or a haiku .. just something written. And if its helluva week there is mucho grace for silence and no submission. Its supposed to be fun.

Also on the subject at hand.. you and L are doing a fabulous job. These are the most difficult days you guys. Seriously. I sit here with 3 kids who can bathe themselves and toilet themselves and 2 who can swim on their own.. on the cusp of living the dream at the side of the pool with my nose 1/3 of the way in a book. I can send mine in to collect their free ice cream at Chickfila alone .. It will happen you guys.. and it will be glorious.