There is apparently no age limit when parents become unable to embarrass their children – no age limit for the child, and none for the parent.
I continue to find material for publication on this particular subject, appearing in both the role of child and parent. This week, however, I’ve decided to give my usual target – my dear sweet mother – a break and instead focus on my ability to embarrass my own kids. Any parent under the sound of my voice knows, it’s not really that hard to do. Kids from 10 to 50 are precisely attuned to anything their parents might do or say that could bring even a speck of negative or questioning attention upon the child.
Despite a few stray tales to the contrary, I consider myself a sane, mature and put-together guy. I take pride in the fact that I’ve managed to navigate this earth, avoiding a decent percentage of disasters, to the age of 53. My peer group, for the most part, seems to count on me as a person of some knowledge and discernment. And then there’s my crowning achievement – four sons, mostly raised, who’ve all turned out pretty good.
Up until this past week, I had begun to think that I was over the “embarrassment” hump as a parent, and that I could now safely interact with the world around me while in the presence of any of my sons, aged 27 down to 15. But then Maddux – the 15-year-old – and I decided to go to O’Charley’s for a steak, and I discovered that I was, indeed, still atop the hump.
We sat down on a Wednesday night and ordered our favorite O’Charley’s fare – two 7 oz., garlic butter filets. Maddux tacked on an appetizer of chips and queso dip and expedited our waitress to deliver him some homemade rolls to the table … pronto! He then rocked back in his booth seat, flipped out his phone and started explaining to me how much better LeBron James was than Larry Bird. This generational assault by my progeny on one of my beloved sports heroes set me squirming in my seat, and that’s when I felt it. Or the better description, I didn’t feel it. My wallet.
“Maddux, we’ve got a little problem,” I said to the lad across from me, who was by now working on his second yeast roll. “Yeah?” And the server, hopping to please, spun our queso dip onto the table and asked if there’d be anything else. “No thank you, not at this time,” I replied. My voice might have cracked just a little.
As soon as she was out of earshot, I broke the news. “I forgot my wallet.” Before Maddux could verbalize a response from behind his now saucer-like eyes, I reached for a most improbable straw. “How much money do you have?” I asked of my 15-year-old.
We both stared at each other for what seemed like a minute. He knew the $20 or so he might scrape from behind his learner’s permit wasn’t going to cover two 7 oz., garlic-butter filets and a side of queso dip, and I knew it would take me about 45 minutes to drive home and back with funds enough to cover this now regrettable outing.
I crunched a chip from the queso basket. “Well, don’t eat the chips!” Maddux screamed over at me. “You don’t think they’re just gonna scoop these up and serve them to someone else, do you?!” was my flustered comeback. Emotions were high. I took a deep breath and said “I’ll fix it.”
I made my way from our table to the hostess stand and there explained my dilemma to two lovely young ladies who represented the face of O’Charley’s, assigned as they were to the greeting and seating of all customers. Apparently however, they were mannequins, because upon hearing my tale of woe, they just stared at me, saying nothing at all. Not a peep.
Fortunately, I was overheard by the bartender. And thankfully, this cocktail-serving Yoda of Barnes Crossing gathered up a manager, and they together explained that I could re-order the food that we had just ordered at our table online, “to-go.”
Problem solved. All was well! Because of course, I had my phone, and I could accomplish this new strategy from the very booth in which we sat. Birds chirped under a rainbow somewhere in the distance.
However, since I didn’t have my wallet, I also didn’t have a credit card. So, Maddux had to call my mother, and after only 10 minutes of strolling room to room and rummaging through a half-dozen purses while chatting to us on various unrelated subjects, she ultimately produced a valid credit card that was indeed useable by O’Charley’s Online. And she saved our day, big time. Maddux exhaled, finally. So did I. We would have hugged if there hadn’t been a table between us.
And thus, my heroic Mom finally gets a well-deserved break from the embarrassing tales of her exploits often spun by her sincerely grateful and loving son. Thanks, Mom.
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