So, have you heard our Olive Garden story? No? Ok, listen.
New Jersey. Fall, 2010. Kuttan and Ammu were all of fifteen months old. Tired of our taking out from restaurants all the time; more than that, tired of me sitting in my PJs and changing nappies and feeding koozhu to kids, the husband ordered that we go to my favorite restaurant for dinner. Olive Garden. So we started our getting-ready routine in the evening so that we can eat dinner outside. (Clothes. Sweaters. Jackets. Socks.Caps. Shoes. Stroller. Gerber packs. Diaper Bag.) Into Two. Looks like packing for a hiking trip but yes, this is the #StoryOfMyLife. And, finally we set off to eat dinner.
Thankfully, there was no wait time. So we got in, settled down and ordered our food. The minestrone soup. Ceaser Salad. Eggplant Parm. And, ravioli. How do I remember after so long, you ask. Oh. That’s simple. These are almost the only-vegetarian options and so I just assumed these were what we would’ve had. Anyway. It took about ten minutes for the food to arrive. But ten minutes seemed like eternity. Why, you ask? Kids yaa. Kids.
Whatever goes through the kids’ minds, only God knows. Even as we ordered, both of them slowly started crying at the same time. Yes, yes.. Twins and all. Slow crying turned into loud crying. Louder. Loudest. Howling. And the entire restaurant was tch-tching in some time. Thankfully (or so we thought!) the food arrived. We were trying hard to finish up the food and escape the sympathetic looks of the entire restaurant. But no.. Mother proposes; Kid disposes! The howling didn’t stop even for a minute. Again, make that howling into two. (Like Crazy Mohan says life e into two aiduch!)
So what did we do? Take out. We asked the waiter to give us a few boxes so that we can pack the food and leave with dignity (oh.. whatever that was left of both food and dignity, I meant!) As we tried to wrap up and leave, another family of four (mom, dad, son and daughter of around ten years) were looking at us. We sheepishly smiled and muttered a sorry under our breaths.
‘Are they twins?’, they asked. We nodded. ‘These are twins too’. They were pointing at their kids. ‘Don’t worry. They will grow up and things will get better’, the mother said. I muttered a thanks but didn’t believe one bit in what she said. Not then, when I was trying to keep my head down to escape the wrath of the disturbed restaurant.
Cut to November 2016. We are exhausted after shopping for winter clothes and the son insists we go to his favorite restaurant. Olive Garden, he yells. As the husband drives us to this place, I realize it looks familiar.
‘Is this the one?’, I ask him. He nods. We laugh and tell this now-famous story of being ostracized from restaurants to the seven-year olds. ‘This is the same place. I doubt they’ll even let us in right now after all that ruckus you created,’ I joke. ‘Maa.. They won’t even recognize us!’, they echo in chorus.
We walk in. We order and wait for the food. And, I hear a child wailing. Memories come flooding back again. I look at my kids. They are giggling and are busy with the kids’ menus. I remember the mother’s words from what seems like yesterday. ‘Don’t worry. They will grow up and things will get better.’ I should’ve believed her then. I do believe her now. They sure grow up, indeed!