Last month, I shared with you the fun of our annual family Valentine meal. Today we will continue with the food theme, this time away from home.
What a way to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday: by taking her to the doctor. There’s nothing better than having a vial of blood sucked from your arm to celebrate your existence, right? And standing down the hall from the overcrowded waiting room for 45 minutes, eagerly straining to hear the nurse call your name just adds to the pleasantness of the day…
[Yes, that’s sarcasm. But, rather than going into details about medical issues and inconveniences, how about I just skip to the fun part of the day?]
…”Where would you like to go for lunch?” I ask as I turn the car out of the doctor’s office parking lot and merge onto the freeway. This is usually a decision that takes some time, since no one in my family is very choosy.
Today, however, my mother-in-law has a craving that helps narrow down the choices. “I’m really wanting a burger. I’ve been in a hamburger mood for the last few days.”
We toss around several restaurant names before the idea hits me to take her to a place my husband had introduced me to just the week before.
“Oooo, I know a place you will love!” I declare and head toward the David’s Burgers diner for lunch. I think of it as a “diner” because, as their website states: “Our restaurants are designed in the spirit of the butcher shops of the 1950’s and 60’s.”
It is a bit like stepping back in time when we enter the building, not just because of the decor, but also the excellent, kind-hearted service we receive from the staff. I know this place will definitely hit the spot to satisfy her burger craving.
Upon entering the restaurant, we look around at the shiny red booths, the fresh meat displayed behind the service counter, and the mountain of fresh potatoes piled against the kitchen wall. We are greeted with an enthusiastic welcome from several people in the open kitchen area. My mother-in-law smiles as oldies rock and roll music wafts through the air to tickle her ears and revive old memories.
We order our burgers and settle in a booth, setting up our order number on the edge of the table. We both wonder why the waitress also gave us a piece of waxy paper that looks like a red-and-white-checkered tablecloth until another waitress comes by with a large bowl and gives us a small pile of unlimited fresh french fries. Mmm…just like homemade!
The burgers quickly arrive, and soon our mouths are too full to sing along with the 50s tunes playing over the speaker system. “So, what do you think?” I ask between bites.
“This place reminds me of the diner I went to as a teenager. They had the best burgers in town, and these taste just like it!”
A friendly waiter comes over to check on us. I ask about the history of the restaurant and find out there are only six of them at the moment, scattered around central Arkansas. He also informs us of one that will soon open near our home — yay! He encourages us to come back again and bring some friends for a birthday party or get-together.
When I inform him that it already IS my mother-in-law’s birthday, his eyebrows shoot up in surprise, and a smile spreads across his face. “Well, happy birthday!” he exclaims. “Did you get your custard ice cream yet?”
“No. You have ice-cream, too?” she answers. “I wish I had know that because I would have saved room! I think I’m too full now to order any.”
He quickly makes it clear that ordering is out of the question. It’s “on the house,” and he assures her that she probably has room for at least a few bites. Turning to me, he asks, “and what flavor would you like?”
“It’s not my birthday,” I return, “just hers.”
“Oh, that doesn’t matter,” he smiles. “Everyone gets free samples of custard here!”
A few moments later, the waiter returns with an entourage in tow, carrying a bowl custard for the birthday girl, and a smaller cup for me. My mother-in-law’s eyes sparkle in surprise and happiness as the employees sing a rhythmic birthday tune to her. I can tell she is enjoying the special treatment.
After we stuff down the sugary treats, we fill our to-go boxes and waddle out to the car. We settle in the vehicle and buckle seat belts across our full stomachs in preparation to head home.
“That was nice,” she says, turning toward me from the passenger’s seat. “I thought this wasn’t going to be a very good birthday, but you turned it into something special. I really enjoyed that and it brought back good memories.”
“I’m so glad to hear that,” I respond, feeling proud that I was able to brighten her birthday and take her mind off her troubles for a little while. The ride home is a pleasant mixture of sunny scenery and conversation, as our full tummies busily digest the tasty, old-fashioned treats.