Sunday, May 04, 2008

Welcome to Family Fun Night

My 10-year-old daughter recently announced that we should institute something called Family Fun Night, which means that one night a week a particular member of the family gets to decide what we all do together for fun.

Tonight was my middle son's night to choose. He picked our local ice cream parlor, one of those places that mixes toppings into the ice cream for you. So off we went, and ... the store was gone. Vanished. Another business was in its place.

Sometimes living in a densely populated place like Long Island has its advantages, though, as there was a similar ice cream parlor just a few miles away. So we drove over and ... also out of business.

Not to be deterred, we drove to yet another mix-in-the-toppings ice cream parlor. If you've already guessed that this one was closed, too, you're one step ahead of me.

At this point, we could have gone to Carvel or Baskin Robbins, but the boy wanted Friendly's, which this grinch of a mother had been refusing to do, despite the catchy jingle, because the service was so notoriously awful a couple decades ago. On this night I relented, hoping that the management had learned a thing or two over the last twenty years.

So okay, the service was pretty decent. Until the end of the meal, my only complaint was the volume of the place. Conversation during our Family Fun Night went something like this:

"Should I have the double scoop ice cream cone or the make-your-own sundae?"


"Should I have the double scoop ice cream cone or the make-your-own sundae?"


"I think she wants to know where the bathroom is."




Toward the end of the meal, my 16-year-old excused himself for the bathroom, and I was feeling pretty pleased overall. We'd only had to wait a few minutes for a table, the goodies were yummy and, best of all, we were leaving. Peace and quiet awaited me.

When my son got back from the restroom, he looked at the completely cleared table and I saw panic in his eyes. Immediately, I knew what had happened.

"My God, you put your retainer in a napkin, didn't you?"

That he heard.

We ran to the back and asked to look through the trash, but were told that customers were not allowed in that area. They'd look through it, they promised, but it could take a while.

It was getting late, and tables around us were clearing. As human bodies left the crowded restaurant, the place got colder and colder. I heard one young boy say to his mom, "We have to leave."

"Why?" she asked.

"I'm as cold as snow!"

Pretty soon, my whole family was as cold as snow. Still, we waited.

After more time passed, the waitress came out and told us to leave our phone number so we could go home. "We'll call you if we find it."

"No!" my husband said. "We're staying."

Alas, I knew he was right. If we left, they'd have no incentive to look. We were staying put, holding onto our check.

Another half an hour passed. My children were turning blue. At last the manager came out and kindly explained that they had looked through all the bus baskets and hadn't found it. We were crestfallen.

"There is one thing I can do," he said.

"What's that?"

"I can let you take home the garbage."

You have to know how Family Fun Night ended, don't you? In the backyard with flashlights and rubber gloves, looking through the biggest, smelliest, wettest, goopiest, most disgusting pile of garbage imaginable. I don't think my sinuses will ever be completely clear of the smell. It wasn't even something we could do at a safe arm's distance. The retainer in question is two small pieces of clear plastic, kind of like those Invisalign Braces. That meant that every soggy napkin and hamburger bun had to be squeezed and inspected.

The conversation went something like this:




"I'm going to throw up."


"This is gross."

"Why does it smell so bad?"

"I have to vomit."

"No you don't!"

And then, after about forty minutes ...

"I found it!!!!!!!"

Yup, we actually found the retainer. A Family Fun Night miracle!

Now we have to think of something just as spectacular for next week. Anybody have a cesspool that needs a good scrubbing?


Deanna said...

Oh my! That is too funny! Only because it happened to you and not me. Sorry. But hey, it's one you'll always remember, right?

Myfanwy Collins said...

I don't know whether to laugh or cry, Ellen. I'm doing a little of both. So glad you found the retainer. xoxo

Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Oh Ellen--oh my god, what a night! I'm so glad you found it...and probably soaked it in bleach :)


SusanD said...

Ellen, this is the best story since you spilled the nail polish remover on your girly bits. It's so awful you had to do this, but YAY that you found the retainer. And double YAY that you're SUCH a good sport and able to keep your sense of humor in these situations.

Also, happy Mother's Day to you!

Ms. Theologian said...

That is truly disgusting. I have that type of retainer and on a regular basis it disappears never to be seen again.

angelina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Maryanne Stahl said...

hilarious --and godawful.

but um angelina?