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  • Writer's pictureMichael Pearce

Adventures in Dining

As Covid rates diminished, we decided to take a couple of days and head to the coast. Naturally, we needed to have dinner since we were staying overnight, and we looked for a restaurant with outdoor seating.

Never mind that it was foggy and 52 degrees; we had jackets and they had heat lamps. Perfect. Grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, and artichokes were the ticket. We are 100% “GF” (gluten-free) so eating out can be tricky. Yet, in this day and age, restaurants are great about accommodating dietary needs.

As we put napkins on laps and cut into the chicken, a party of six was seated indoors. Only the window separated us, and we glanced at them as they glanced at us. I saw one of the women adjust her fur coat on the chair.

My son can be selective about food. He’s a “foodie” and anything that doesn’t pass his smell test doesn’t go in his mouth. When the plates arrived, he actually didn’t hold the food to his nose; instead, he leaned over and stuck his nose into the plate. I guess that works.

We dove into those half chickens; walking on a windy beach can make you quite hungry. Zach, in all his foodie gusto, picked up the leg/thigh and got a mouthful of meat that took him quite a while to get down. Fingers were both stuffing the meat in and pulling it out. He handed the bones to his dad like a cashier giving change.

Next, he took a potato and chomped on it. But, alas, his smell test did not allow for a texture-screening. Out came the mashed-up roasted potato into his hand. And he decided to plop it on my plate. Thanks, bud.

I leaned forward a bit and looked in the window. A man in a suit coat from the party of six looked back at me. I slowly leaned back.

As artichokes were devoured, Zach gleefully tossed the scraped flower buds into a messy pile. And by tossed I mean thrown and smooshed and stacked and squashed.

Hi, man in the window.

When the waiter refilled Zach’s water glass, he guzzled all 8 ounces and shook out the glass enthusiastically. The party of six may have assumed it was raining.

When the party indoors received their plates, Zach thought it would be fun to emit a grunting sound as the waiter laid each plate on the table. He practically pressed his nose to the glass and watched. Six grunts later, he returned to his chicken.

Zach loves good food, and I love that he loves it. By the time he’s done, his hands are greasy and his shirt needs a good dousing of Shout. Any critters in the vicinity can find their sustenance under Zach’s chair. I’m surprised they don’t follow him around.

As we got up to leave, I noticed fur coat woman turn around. She looked...curious. I gave a smile. Before special needs came into our lives, I would have worried about what the look meant.

Now, I truly don’t care who turns to look or why. I don’t care if the man on the other side of the window sees my son shove so much chicken into his mouth that he can’t swallow it all at once.

We teach table manners as best we can. Yet, in our world, we are just ecstatic when food is eaten, and if there’s enthusiasm about the meal, that’s even better!

Oh! Zach had sorbet for dessert. I think you know what that looked like.


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