(Introductory excusatory explanationary: Lordy, it has been a big ol’ bloggin’ break. I’ve noticed that when life gets too serious, too dark, and too full of things that I can’t find even a little bit funny, I go blog dark. If I am ever to approach anything resembling “blogging success” I will have to find a remedy for this, I know that. But for now, I’ll just give myself some birthday grace. I’m hoping for some of that same grace from the two or three of you that read this.)
My birthday was last week, and my sweet husband arranged childcare for the wee boy monsters, so he could take me on a birthday date. And you know what we did? Besides see a movie, because I could see a movie EVERY. DAY. And my sweet hubby knows that, so that went without saying.
But you know what else we did? We went to Red Robin, that’s right, Red Robin, on my birthday date.
And I. Will. Not. Be. Mocked.
I know it’s not cool. I know it’s not a sophisticated, chi-chi restaurant with fahncy sounding dishes and nine different locally sourced organic ingredients presented on recycled bamboo chinaware produced by happy well adjusted orphans of a legal age in a third-world country. I know that Red Robin is perhaps the antithesis of that, and of cool, and of anything approaching hip.
BUT we were in the ‘burbs, cause that’s where we live, and pretending we don’t is silly. AND we had one hour before our movie (The Vow – WAY exceeded expectations, achieved near ugly cry) and didn’t want to be all stressed out wondering if we would get a nicer meal in enough time for me to buy my hot-tub-sized diet coke and see ALL the previews.
Tangent – I would pay to see previews. Theaters don’t know that, but they could make good money off of me by charging me $5-10 just to watch an hour of previews. That would be heaven.
Anyhoo, here’s the deal. As we sat there waiting on our burgers I decided that part of being Nearly in My Mid-Forties But Justifiably Still In My Early Forties was being comfortable enough in my own skin to be able to honor and enjoy what Red Robin represented that night. I mean, besides the reliably awesome Banzai Burger.
Red Robin was one of the first cool chain restaurants we got in Alaska. See, if you grow up watching commercials from the Lower 48 for cool chain restaurants, but have had none to go to, this is very exciting. It was also the scene of some of my first independent teen outings, all of us hanging out, patting our giant 80’s bangs, and commenting on the cool posters. (Shout out to Red Robin Northway Mall, Anchorage, which has since closed. May the spirit of your Banzai Burgers live forever on.)
Later, it was where I hung out with groups of friends, all of us home on breaks from college. It was where one particular young man tested our waiter’s ability to bring back a set of glasses correctly after taking them for refills. The waiter failed, and I wound up marrying the cocky young man who tested his skills.
The particular Red Robin we visited last week, in those particular ‘burbs, has seen me through giddy nights of early marriage, when I was still marveling that I got to date the same amazing guy for the REST of my LIFE. Nursing my first baby in the restaurant, running a toddler to the potty after nursing my second baby, and corralling all three of the wee boy monsters while just desperately wishing for one more basket of Bottomless Fries and some peace and quiet for the love of all that is good and holy……..
It has been the scene of many cross generational meals with my family, certain we could find something for grandpa, something for me, something for the little ones, and confident there would be a ready supply of crayons and balloons. I have wonderful memories of eating there with my father-in-law before he passed away, watching him make my boys laugh, riling them up right before it was time to leave and go home to bed.
So, though I love me a good Banzai Burger, it wasn’t just about that Wednesday. It was about being comfortable enough, mature enough, and just…..tired enough to feel free to go where I knew I’d be happy. (I’m not gonna lie, the Skinny Tea cocktail with vodka didn’t hurt.)
So don’t mock me. Spend the energy instead and figure out where your happy place is, restaurant-wise. Nothing wrong with going back there, once in a while.
Me? I’ve got my eye on some cool, hip new places I’d like to try out. But meanwhile, I’m gonna start hunting for a coupon to the early bird special at the local buffet restaurant. Apparently, I’m gonna need it for my next birthday.
P.S. I’m sure I’ve accidentally violated some trademark or some such issues for Red Robin, but I can assure you they had nothing to do with this post.