The pattern we follow is rather loose but predictable on Friday nights. Dinner is usually eaten out at a neighborhood Mexican restaurant.
The place is nothing fancy but always filled with locals of diverse backgrounds. A few lawyer types talk quietly at the bar, wives and husbands chat over dinner and a group of young men and women celebrate Friday night with margaritas. And…Charee’ (aka Charlie) is having the Don Carlos Plate at table #24.
The neighborhood was exclusively Gay in 80’s and 90’s. Over the years, it’s gone through many phases of gentrification. The gay ghetto has slowly turned into a diverse well-to-do neighborhood. Yet the drag queens continue to eat right alongside the families with traditional American values. It’s a cool vibe.
I continue to identify our family as nontraditional. I guess because Brase’s Mommy does not live with us. The deeper I go into the parenting pool, the more I realize that the sole word family works best. It’s really not about the words traditional or nontraditional. The bottom line… I’m the person who gets up in the middle of night with fevers, coughs and vomiting. That is a true test of being a parent and a bond that makes a family.
As we eat dinner, everyone engages our little one. All the waiters know him by name and an adjoining table always reaches out to him. Everyone finds favor in his smile. It’s a very welcoming place in and around the restaurant.
Dinner usually takes about 2 hours on average and Brase does well in his high chair. No screaming or walking about is allowed. We are instilling the use of napkins, forks and manners. It’s sometimes challenging but 99 percent of the time we overcome the demon that occasionally emerges from our son. It is our goal not to impose bad behavior of other paying patrons.
This had been a particularly good night of manners and light conversation. We said our goodbyes to the ladies beside us, waived to Juan our waiter and cleared passage between the tight tables. I carried my son past the last table before the exit door. All I heard was, “Do you BELIEVE that!” The word believe as emphasized and drawn out for many seconds. The foursome, at the table beside the door, began to chat negatively about our family. I was amazed and Jose’ said, “What did she say?” I ignored Jose’s question and with a slight nudge guided us to the door. I said to Jose, “Not now.” I buckled Brase’s car belt and put Bobo, the stuffed money, in his arms. Jose snapped his belt and I said, “I left my phone.” Quick as lightening I was back in the restaurant’s front door. My phone securely placed in the palm of my hand the entire time.
Let me say… I know how to pick a battle. I was not backing down from this adventure. In the few seconds before exiting the restaurant, I size up the rude woman’s entire group.
I stuck my head between the big mouthed woman and her companion. I said, “If you have a problem with my family talk to me about it but DO NOT talk about us in front of my child.” I stunned her a bit because she did not see me coming. The lady responded, “I did not know you were there… I’m sorry.” I responsed, “Does it matter if we were out of earshot? What you did was wrong! My family… my child should not be a part of your dinner debate. Your comments are not welcomed!” Other words were exchanged but in the end the woman apologized again. The other patrons quickly came to my family’s defense as they picked up on our conversation. Charee’ chimed in reminding the tourist types that she may look like a lady but they did not want to mess with her. This was not a surprise as Charee’ is about 6’3” without her heels.
Usually, I would walk away but this was our turf. We were not in some country town in the middle of nowhere. We were in the middle of 4th largest city in America.
Close your eyes if you don’t want to look at my family. We do not need your support or your commentary. Let us all remind each other of this one basic principle… ”if you take away my freedom yours may soon follow. And… we will be standing hand-in-hand with the prison's walls surrounding us.”