Tired, hungry and feeling lazy after a day of hiking with 35 plus pounds of child-carrier strapped to my back, I announce that we’d give local Enrigo ristorante a try. “We haven’t eaten there,” I declare to our visiting son and his wife, “but I hear it’s good. Here’s a menu,” I add, handing Joe my phone. “Figure out what you want and I’ll order.”
Dinner for four selected, I phone in two eggplant parmigiana, lemon pasta and a pasta Bolognese. Disconnecting from the call I announce, “Dinner will be ready at six-twenty,” making sure I establish eye contact with Joe.
Joe nods, says, “Good. Thanks. Want me to go with you?”
“Please,” I respond, smiling, “and in the interim, it’s grandbaby time,” I add, plucking our twenty-five month old grandson Jack from the ground and lifting his giggling, squirming, self high above my head.
At 6:10, Jack in arms, I ascend our stairs and ask Joe if he’s ready. “Sure,” he replies, making silly faces at Jack by first scrunching up and then opening his mouth wide, “just let me get my shoes on,” he adds, grabbing them from the floor and slipping them on before rising from our bed. Once standing Joe plucks Jack from my arms, puts his mouth on the back of his neck and exhales long and hard, lips pressed to tender flesh causing them to dance wildly and emit loud, silly noises. Jack laughs in rewarding delight, Joe kisses Jack’s neck, my lips, places Jack on the ground and then follows as I lead the way to our first floor, Joe reciting one, two, three all the way to sixteen as he and Jack bump down the steps one at a time, Jack parroting Joe’s numerals as they descend.
On the first floor I again pick Jack up off the floor, walk to the door that leads to our garage rub my nose to his and ask, “Do you want to push the button?” referring to the button that opens the garage door.
“Wait!” Joe commands. “The car’s in the driveway, remember? We’re going out the front door.”
“Oh, that’s right! Sorry, buddy. I’ll let you push the button when we get back, okay?” I ask, walking to the couch with Joe who kisses Jack again before I hand him to Lizzie. “We should be back by six-thirty,” I declare, smiling, finger waving and heading out the front door and down our six front porch steps, silently counting them off in deference to our Jack educating, number of steps recitation routine.
The drive to Waverly Place takes mere minutes and I pull around back expecting to zip into one of the fifteen-minute-only-parking spaces reserved for folks grabbing take-out but find the half-dozen spots cordoned off with orange traffic cones and yellow tape. “What the heck is that about?” I ask. “Why have reserved spaces for takeout and then make them unavailable?”
“Randy Clark,” Joe says with a laugh, referencing a former boss of his who was fond of saying, “Disappointment is a function of expectation.”
“Randy Clark,” I agree, circling away from Waverly’s plaza area and finding a lone space available in the near distance.
Walking toward Enrigo we pass a sign warning of icy conditions and I grab Joe’s elbow, point to the sign with my head and caution, “Don’t slip,” as we pass by.
“Okay. Thanks,” he replies with a sage nod. “Pretty sure we’re safe though,” he adds with a smile. “Not bad for the end of December, huh?” he asks as we walk by children playing on what are no doubt new for Christmas hover boards.
“A little chilly,” I answer, turning my head so Joe can’t see my grin. “What do you think it is? Fifty-five out here?”
“Probably. Right around there anyway,” he responds, pointing toward Enrigo’s door and then stepping in front of me to hold it open.
I smile my thanks and a fit looking, balding man in a sport coat asks us how many are in our party. “Oh, we’re here for carry out?” I respond.
“Excellent,” he says, smiling and nodding. “Mike will help you,” he adds, motioning toward the bar with a palm toward the sky, from the elbow expansive gesture. We thank him, tell Mike our name and glance over the restaurant as we wait for our order. Mike hands us our bill and I slip a one hundred dollar bill inside the leatherette case and hand it back to him.