Posts Tagged ‘ Ponderosa ’

Milestone Monday: Memory Lane

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Author’s Note: Join me every Monday as I share Fia’s ongoing milestone (mis)adventures–from potty training to talking to everything in between.  Mayhem and mischief guaranteed on Milestone Monday!

A Special Shakey's Moment

When I was a kid, going out to dinner was a treat. My mom (who passed away in June) ran her own plant business and whenever she had one of her sales, if she did well, that was our reward.  The sale was always on a Sunday at our house in the garage she had converted to a greenhouse. We’d run up to her constantly and look in the cash drawer.

“Mom, do you think you’re making enough for us to go to dinner?”

“Not if you guys keep distracting me from my customers,” she’d say with a laugh.

It was always a toss up between Shakey’s Pizza and Ponderosa. Both had the all-you-could-eat salad bar. At Ponderosa, we loved taking the red plastic tray down the line to pick out side dishes. We always brought our lunch to school, so cafeteria style, complete with hot food was like hitting it big time.  And the vinyl booths both places sported? You couldn’t get more chic.

Shakey’s had the arcade. We’d play the games while we waited for our pizza. And we’d always walk out with some form of trinket junk that would inevitably end up on the floor of the car, or in the hamsters cage a week later, with everyone denying who put it there.

On Sunday, it was pouring rain here in LA. I was stir crazy. I begged Phil to go with me to Lamps Plus. We desperately needed light in our living room. He equates lamp stores to the horrible fabric stores his mom dragged him to as a kid. But after much debate, he agreed. I’ll admit, having a hyper 2-year old running through a crowded lamp store screaming “I pooped!” isn’t ideal, but we found two lights so mission accomplished (btw—she didn’t poop. It just happens to be her favorite sentence).

On the way home, I spotted a Shakey’s Pizza.  Phil was game, seeing as his day was already ruined by the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) of Lamps Plus. We started to reminisce about our childhood Shakey’s experiences. We got excited to take Fia. We agreed it was a milestone—a rite of passage. Granted, she’s a little young, but we’re overachievers.

It was 5 pm and jam-packed. Phil ordered and I took Fia to the arcade, where she touched every button, even the car pedal on the floor. I was totally grossed out. There were kids running everywhere and I could feel the filth in the air. She won a spin top trinket. The perfect choking hazard.  She was so excited putting her tickets into the machine. “More! More!” she kept yelling.

She was in heaven.

At our booth, Fia kept touching the vinyl part that was ripped, laughing, while trying to destroy the hole further. I grabbed the sani-wipes and went to town on everything— the highchair, table, our hands—even the booth.

At the salad bar, I cringed at the cough guard, trying to forget a Dateline special I saw about the germs on those things.

When the pizza came, Phil and I could barely eat it. Granted, we’re snobby NYC pizza lovers, but this stuff tasted worse than frozen. Fia, who is typically a picky eater, devoured it, all the while playing with her choking hazard toy.  And for once in her life, she couldn’t get enough of the garbanzo beans from the salad bar.  At a nice restaurant she will refuse them. Here, they were like candy. She ate about 33 of them.

That night, all I could think of was how gross I felt; how I have to start exercising and eating better. Fia slept the longest she has in months–12 hours.

As a grownup, I’m a snob with a lot of stuff.  And I guess this is one of them.  I can’t say we’re going to become regulars at Shakey’s. Or ever go there again. But even at the expense of my sanity, I’ll admit, it’s fun traveling down memory lane, marveling at how little we cared about things as kids that we adults get so uptight about. This is the part of parenthood that puts life in perspective. In a good way.

Every once in a while we all need a Shakey’s experience. Tell me yours.

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