A Family Affair
Last night, our family did the unthinkable. We bounded over hurdles; we pushed past our comfort zone; we entered into uncomfortable territory… All for the love of our faithful father’s 51st birthday. What, you may ask, did we do that was so painful, so far-fetched, so completely unimaginable?
We ate supper at IHOP.
Now, to truly understand the significance of this event, you must realize that our family has not eaten at IHOP since (scary music)… The Incident.
The Incident is a famous story in our house. A vacation mishap gone horribly wrong. A touchy subject of embarrassment and regret. It goes something like this:
Many, many years ago, in a state far, far away (Florida), our family stayed in a hotel with an attached IHOP restaurant. Naively, we thought this restaurant would harbor no hard feelings toward us. We thought ourselves absolutely indifferent to the service and food of the unimposing pancake house. But we were wrong.
Almost immediately, things began unraveling. It started with our orders. We ordered the silver dollar pancakes. Twenty minutes later, the waitress brought us pigs-on-a-blanket. This is when our dining experience hit a sour note. My mother, always the defender of her picky daughter, explained that she had ordered silver dollar pancakes to the grumpy waitress, to which the waitress replied with a sassy, “Oh, no you didn’t.” They argued for several minutes as the rest of us eyed each other warily, before we decided to eat the pigs-in-a-blanket. No use fighting a brick wall, right?
Wrong. Things got worse.
Someone spilt their milk. Maybe Hannah, maybe Ruth. It got all over the table. The waitress was irate.
Ruthie wandered away from the table and grabbed a coffee pitcher from another table, teetering dangerously with the hot liquid. Our family freaked, screamed, and jumped up from the table to grab her, drawing yet more attention from our fellow diners. Finally, red-faced and hot-blooded, we packed up and left, vowing that “With God as our witness, we will never go to IHOP again!”
Until last night, that is. When Daddy announced that he wanted to spend his birthday supper at IHOP. The rest of us eyed each other. Is he serious? What about…. The Incident?
He was dead serious. And so, in order to please our father (who is oh, so wonderful to us all), we pulled on our coats and headed out to IHOP.
Once inside the restaurant, we were all a little on edge. We giggled nervously, fingered through the menu, and reminded each other not to order silver dollar pancakes. But then, as the night grew on, we eased up. We had fun. We ordered good food that arrived quickly, enjoyed nice service, and generally had a wonderful experience.
So what’s the point of all of this? Well, other than as a warning not to order silver dollar pancakes at any IHOPs in Florida, this story serves as a reminder to me to face my fears. To step out of my comfort zone sometimes and enjoy something new. As a girl who is very, very into routine (fun fact: I ate the same breakfast every morning for practically a year), I tried something new and uncomfortable and, guess what? I survived! And I had a really good time doing it.
I guess we’ll always have IHOP. For better, and for worse.