Remember going to restaurants in the Before Times? I miss it, but this isn’t my first restaurant drought. Around the turn of the century, for a couple of years, we had to subsist on our own cooking and takeout.
It wasn’t plague that kept us from the joys of eating out back then. It was our toddler.
After our baby was born, my husband and I kept right on eating out as we had before. If the baby fussed, she was easy to soothe. I remember bragging to my mom about how good MY baby was in restaurants, not at all like those other inferior children marring their families’ (and everyone else’s) outings by shrieking and throwing things. MY baby was clearly a budding food critic and etiquette expert.
My mom gave me a knowing smile but said nothing. That’s the kind of parent she was, a believer in letting her children learn things for themselves.
And boy did I ever learn, an entire lesson delivered in one attempted meal around the time our kid turned two, plus a bonus lesson: they call it the “terrible twos” for good reason. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were at little Greek and Italian restaurant around the corner from where we lived at the time, a place where we were frequent customers.
The kiddo had outgrown the car seat / detachable carrier thing we had been carting her around in, and the waitress asked if we wanted a high chair. We did.
The high chair came with the tray shrink-wrapped to protect its sanitary surface, which contained a mini-pack of crayons, a coloring sheet and a handful of Captain’s Wafer crackers. What fun, I thought. It’s a prison, the toddler apparently surmised.
Perhaps unhappy with being buckled in, the kid seemed disgruntled though not alarmingly so. But just after we ordered dinner, Beelzebub took possession of our placid angel, and she started screaming and crying and hurling crayons and throwing her sippy cup.
We remonstrated. We retrieved thrown articles. We tried to amuse her. We offered crackers to mollify her.
She shrieked at a higher pitch and pounded the crackers to dust with her fists on the high-chair tray. She tore up the coloring paper and distributed the shreds and cracker crumbs on every surrounding surface.
Under the withering glare of every other patron in the restaurant, we asked our waitress if we could please have our order to go, paid the bill and left a 200% tip to cover the destruction. It was a nightmare.
This is a weird segue, but I swear I was not surprised, when reading this Vanity Fair piece, to learn that when Donald Trump’s low-quality nepotism hire Jared Kushner presided over the meetings in which he fucked up the coronavirus response, he sat “in a chair taller than all the others.” I expect monstrous behavior from people in high chairs. Kushner delivered:
Kushner, seated at the head of the conference table, in a chair taller than all the others, was quick to strike a confrontational tone. “The federal government is not going to lead this response,” he announced. “It’s up to the states to figure out what they want to do.”
One attendee explained to Kushner that due to the finite supply of PPE, Americans were bidding against each other and driving prices up. To solve that, businesses eager to help were looking to the federal government for leadership and direction.
“Free markets will solve this,” Kushner said dismissively. “That is not the role of government.”
The same attendee explained that although he believed in open markets, he feared that the system was breaking. As evidence, he pointed to a CNN report about New York governor Andrew Cuomo and his desperate call for supplies.
“That’s the CNN bullshit,” Kushner snapped. “They lie.”
According to another attendee, Kushner then began to rail against the governor: “Cuomo didn’t pound the phones hard enough to get PPE for his state…. His people are going to suffer and that’s their problem.”
“That’s when I was like, We’re screwed,” the shocked attendee told Vanity Fair.
It’s a horrifying article, replete with tales of greed, incompetence and douchebro arrogance. Dudes gotta go. Open thread.