Pete Gilbert">

Evolution of an Anniversary Dinner

Nine years ago last month, my wife and I got married along the canal in downtown Indianapolis. Like it was yesterday, I remember walking to the ceremony in the 90 degree heat, carrying my tux and the tuxes of my groomsmen, when a limo passed me by. As it turned out, that limo (with air conditioning on full blast I imagine) was carrying my wife and her champagne sipping wedding party to the ceremony. I’ll spare you the ceremony and reception details, but the night was perfect. Also, like many newlyweds, we saved the top of our cake from that night in anticipation of our first anniversary dinner.

For a gift on our first anniversary, I gave my wife the same type of flowers she had in her bouquet on our wedding day, something I haven’t done since for two reasons: I can no longer remember the name of the flowers and I think the florist stole my credit card number and charged a bunch of stuff to Pay Pal, but that’s another story for another day. In anticipation of our first anniversary, we’d saved our wedding cake topper which the restaurant was nice enough to serve to us for dessert. I think the customary thing to do is take a couple of bites and be done with it, but I remember it was still really good cake, even after a year of freezer burn, so I ate three pieces, surprising my wife as well as our server.

After that first anniversary, the next few were very similar. The usual routine went something like this: Use collected gift cards from work and family to go to a nice steak house, eat delicious steak, drink a bottle of wine, eat a decadent dessert (usually free due to the occasion), then just sort of wander around downtown for the night, enjoying being kid-free.

This year was the same as previous years, but with a twist. We’d recently spent a lot of time with other families and not much time just the five of us, so my wife suggested we still go to a nice steak house for dinner, but this time we would take our kids with us. I was skeptical, but agreed.

I rounded up a few gift cards and made our reservations online at opentable.com. There was a notes section on the reservation form, on it I mentioned it was our anniversary (clinging to the hope of a free dessert) and that we would be bringing along our three children, so please seat us away from ALL other customers, if possible.

When we arrived, the restaurant was kind of loud, which definitely worked to our advantage. There’s nothing worse than walking in to a restaurant with your kids and noticing the place is quieter than a library. They seated us away from most other customers, in a corner booth, but fairly close to one middle aged couple.

From the minute we arrived, the Blonde Bomber was literally bouncing up and down on her seat, I think she could sense her parents’ uncertainty of their anniversary decision. Within five minutes of being seated, I was back out in our van (the only non-sports car in the parking lot) getting out more My Little Ponys, books, and other assorted items for our kids to play with. We were off to a shaky start, but once some food (and drinks) arrived we all mellowed out a bit. I still felt we were bothering our closest neighbors, who were clearly there to enjoy a nice QUIET meal, and we were keeping them from that.

After about an hour of appetizers and dinner, several trips with kids to the bathrooms, drink refills, lots of shushing, and reminding our kids to behave, the couple next to us finally got up to leave. I was relieved…until I saw them approaching our table.

To this day I still don’t believe the words that came out of their mouths, they said, “Your kids were so well behaved, we think it’s great you brought them with you out to dinner.” And they weren’t even being sarcastic! My wife and I were shocked. At the same time, we were so appreciative they took the time to come over and talk to us, letting us know we didn’t interfere with their night.

It was a good thing they left when they did though, because once dessert arrived, things started to get a little bit out of hand. Our served brought us a Bourbon Chocolate Brownie, and set it on fire right in front of us at our table. All the alcohol was supposed to burn off, but I think my kids may have accidentally each had a spoonful of uncooked bourbon. At least that’s my best guess as to why they all had chocolate covering their arms, face AND LEGS as we left the restaurant.

Even with a shaky start and definitely spending more money feeding the kids than we would’ve spent on a babysitter it was an anniversary dinner to remember, that’s for sure.

-Pete

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