She was embarrassed, the hostess, that after 10 minutes of waiting past our reservation time she had to seat us here. Red bench and the 3rd chair from the left. Each little table was occupied and there was about six inches between them. “I am really sorry!” she said again as she spread rose petals on the table between us.
It was our 27th anniversary and I had made arrangements to splurge on my bride. While we were in Grand Rapids, MI for Art Hop, Cathy had made an off hand comment that it would be fun to stay at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel sometime.
I listened. I don’t always, but this time I did.
I arranged for a corner room over looking the Grand River and we had reservations at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse for 7:30 on December 17th ~ our 27th anniversary. All I told Cathy was that she needed to bring her fancy clothes. We were going someplace nice!
As we squeezed into our table, for our romantic dinner for two, we found ourselves firmly lodged between 2 couples. After the initial flurry of water, ordering wine and being handed menus from our waitress, it all began.
“Get the lamb Chops!” he says. “Is it your first time here?” she asks.
What?!? Looking up from our menus, Cathy and I briefly make eye contact and then awkwardly look at the couple to my right (in the pic above I’m in 3rd chair). They’re both smiling warmly at us. We say it is our first time. “We come here all the time.” She sees the rose petals, “Are you celebrating something?”
Thinking my answer might prompt them to leave us to our well deserved intimacy, “Our anniversary.”
“Oh? How many? This is our first anniversary” she says. He is holding her hand and has his other around a lamb chop, “we’ve been together for 12, but we got married here. We come here all the time. I got the Kansas City Steak, but I’m eating her lamb. Get the lamb.” He’s in his mid 50’s and is doing a decent job of pulling off the urban hipster look. But if you can afford to eat at Ruth’s Chris all the time, you can afford to pull off the hipster look when your old…
Our waitress arrives with our wine, which is delicious, and we proceed to order our dinner. No lamb. Steak, medium rare for me, medium for Cathy, mashed potatoes and broccoli.
“When your food comes we can pass plates and share!”
What?!? The male voice was to my left this time. I look to my left and there is a slightly intoxicated gentleman looking at me. We go through the same routine: First time here? Are you staying in the hotel? Where are you from?
At some point in the first conversation, to my right with the hipster couple, without needing to say anything, Cathy and I made the switch. Setting aside our expectations for a quiet intimate dinner where we romantically looked and spoke to one another we both understood we were going to have to just take this one as it came.
After 27 years, you can do that…
He is an excavator and she is an optometrist. They grew up and live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and they eat at Ruth’s Chris twice a year. She went to Ferris State.
“Are you celebrating something?” I ask after explaining we are from Kalamazoo and there to celebrate our anniversary.
“No, Yes, Kind of…” he leads with. “He’s going to give you TMI,” she interjects quickly, giggling.
“I’m having my vasectomy reversed at 9:00am tomorrow morning,” he announces! Immediately I felt a deep pain that made me want to hunch over and find a bag of frozen peas! But just to verify, or maybe to recover…
“What?” I ask. “I’m having my vasectomy reversed in the morning. We have two kids and she wants to have another. Less than 5% chance, but we are seeing the best.” We encourage them with a story of a friend of ours who had his reversed the two great kids he and his wife have.
Our food comes but we continue to talk and laugh intermittently with the couples on either side of us. The food is really amazing. Expensive, but amazing.
Eventually both couples are gone and we are eating our dessert in quiet. And it is more intimate than maybe I could have planned.
The couple to my right learned that 27 years isn’t unattainable. And the couple to my left was able to be less anxious about going under the knife in the morning.
We didn’t talk about Jesus, but I think they experienced his love. I’ve never had an anniversary dinner turn out quite like that before.
I love you, Cathy Stone. Thanks for saying yes everyday for 27 years.
By the way, when I looked at the itemized statement under our door the next morning, the hotel had taken over $100 off the price of our romantic package.