After fishing and a bike ride I took Mom and Dad out for dinner during a recent trip home.
I had to say dinner was for Dad’s 85th birthday to get them to go out at all, as they both are very frugal. Even as we headed out the door Mom offered to fry fish but we followed through anyway.
They do dine out occasionally, but only when they have coupons or some other scheme that makes the meal cost next to nothing. If a newspaper runs a coupon for buy one get one free, Mom will call everyone she knows and collect extra copies. If a restaurant offers a free meal on a birthday, they are enrolled. Senior discount, they are there. Dad carried the same Styrofoam cup back to a local McDonalds for his free senior refill for years.
Not that they are stingy – in fact, the opposite is true with their time. If you need a hand fixing a car, painting a room or putting up a garage, Dad is always ready to help. And there are few, if any, functions that have gone on at their church in which Mom hasn’t had some part. But when it comes to spending money, especially on themselves, they’re predisposed to pass.
They did go out with me, however, only because it was Dad’s birthday present.
We went to Artemis in Mt. Prospect, a Greek restaurant that’s been a popular destination for the budget conscious diner for the past 35 years. The place is clean, the food is good, the portions generous and wait staff professional.
We all have our favorite dishes.
Dad likes to get the grilled pork chops because it’s such a great value: three thick chops plus sides and a dessert for about $8. I get the gyro platter, a mound of the succulent meat, for $9. Mom gets liver and onions. She says it’s because you just can’t get good liver and onions in restaurants anymore, but I think it’s because it’s the cheapest item on the menu, coming in at $7.
Between Mom getting liver and Dad ordering pea soup as one of his side dishes, I had a bit of trip down memory lane. Mom was an excellent cook, still is, but she’d occasionally serve some things that I found less than palatable with the two aforementioned items near the top of my list of foods I could live without.
Another thing that made the outing memorable was our waitress, who offered free and unsolicited advice on everything from how to teach kids to like liver to building an ersatz lie detector that works on kids. To foster a love of the internal organ you simply trick them into thinking it’s flesh by saying and acting as if it’s a really good steak. While this may work, it might also explain our waitress’s facial tick and some other strange mannerisms.
For a lie detector, she told us confidentially, you start with a metal colander and run a wire from it to a stud detector. Put the colander on the miscreant’s head and when you’re pretty sure you’ve caught the delinquent in a lie, press the reset button, which will cause the lights to flash.
As they flash, say “Aha!”
“From there you’ll have a kid who will tell you anything you want to know,” she said with a wink (or a tic?).
I might use this last idea sometime in the classroom.
Too bad Dick Cheney and other minions in the Bush administration didn’t know about it. The technique is probably as useful at getting to the truth as using actual torture. Make me feel like I’m drowning one time and I’d tell you anything you want to hear, much less 180 times.
But then, Cheney was probably tricked into eating liver.