July 18, 2012
My husband and I took off for the beach a couple of days ago, seeking out a much-needed break from the day-to-day grind that runs his life. This is the first trip we've ever taken without some or all of our children. It seems like the only time my husband can come close to relaxing is when he’s outside the state of Georgia. He’s a small business owner, you see, so Monday-Friday, 9-5, is about a third of his work week. But that’s all I’m going to say about that.
This is Day Two of our adventure, and we’re sitting in the condominium while lightning cracks and thunder rolls and rain is pouring hard, sideways. "Bonanza" re-runs are on the TV, he’s working (of course) and I’m working.
Somehow, though, work feels less like work when one can glance up and see the Gulf of Mexico just off the balcony. There’s something about the salt air and constant breezes that just seems to take the edge off of most everything.
Almost everything. Last night, we went to dinner at one of our favorite spots at this particular beach. The tourist trap establishments are packed around here, with a minimum two-hour wait at most of them. I have yet to find a restaurant that merits that kind of a wait anywhere. On top of that, I’d likely fill that two hours with souvenir shopping, turning a $50 meal into a $300 meal. I hate when that happens.
This little out-of-the-way seafood shack was able to seat us immediately, surprising based on the crowd of people waiting out front. We were escorted to a table next to a group of, I’d say, maybe 20 people – about half of them under the age of 6. The sight reminded me of the days when we’d vacation with our young children, and I felt a pang of nostalgia.
The little ones at this table, however, behaved as though they were at the restaurant all by themselves, no supervising adults in sight. They threw rolls at one another, screamed, ran throughout the restaurant and just caused general mayhem the entire time the group was there. The adults who were with the children barely glanced at the kids, much less spoke up to tell them to sit down, stop throwing food and not scream. I understood why we were seated so quickly. I believe everyone else opted out of dining at that particular table.
The waitress wouldn’t even get within arm’s reach of the group without clearing her throat and announcing her presence. More often than not, she went in with reinforcements. I suppose I’m getting old because while I was initially very annoyed, by the time our meal was drawing to close I just felt sorry for all the other families who’d get to experience this circus before it packed up and went home.
My husband and I laughed as we left the restaurant that night, making the observation that now, we get why senior couples go to dinner around 4 p.m. They choose to miss all the fun. Though I don’t count us among the senior set just yet, we will likely dine at 4 o'clock for the rest of our vacation.
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how we behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays. She has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 News and CNN, and is often a guest on television and radio shows nationwide. Her next book, “Red Lipstick and Clean Underwear,” is eagerly expected in Fall 2012.