Another awesome installment from Andria.
540 South Main St.
If I ever take Miss M (age 3) out to eat without The Admiral, it's with at least one or six other parents and their bevy of children so that I can hide amid the chaos and take no direct responsibility for the behavior of my own, hard to identify offspring. Solo-parent weekend restaurant trips are usually the domain of The Admiral, but since he was off cavorting with his fellow audio geeks in San Francisco, and since Miss M decided to start her Saturday at 6:43 am, I had plenty of time to get us both cleaned up and off on a downtown adventure before opening the store at noon. After a brief but fulfilling perusal of the Memphis Farmer's Market, I started nudging Miss M to the east. Since, sadly, Ernestine and Hazel's isn't open at 10:30 am, we wandered down the block to The Arcade.
Miss M's stride was slow until the word "pancakes" left my lips, and then she was all business. We seated ourselves at a cozy two-top booth next to the main counter. And then I got ready to wait. I've always been happy with the food at The Arcade, but the wait times, even during quiet periods, are pretty ridiculous for what is essentially diner fare. Miss M kept busy playing with the butter containers and surprising me by correctly identifying the numbers on the ketchup bottle (always nice to see the pre-school tuition pay off). She also surprised me by sitting in one spot and acting, more or less, like a functioning member of society. I started to figure out why her dad has done this so often. She actually seems to behave better when there's only one parent around. Maybe it's because she doesn't have to fight for a conversational slot, or perhaps because she doesn't have to spend so much energy trying to figure out the best! way to divide our discipline efforts, but whatever the reason, I was really enjoying our little adventure together.
Just when I was beginning to think that my 15 minutes of pointed room-scanning was for naught, our server appeared and took our drink orders. I got juice for us both, and Miss M's was brought in a styrofoam container with a lid without us even having to request it. I ordered an a la carte order of pancakes ($3.00) and a biscuit ($0.50) for Miss M, and a Pert sandwich ($3.50) for myself. I was proud of myself for ordering such an inexpensive combination of items. It's very easy to spend $7.50 on eggs at The Arcade.
We sat with our juice for a few minutes, and I was feeling such a pleasant maternal buzz that I broke my strict "restaurant space" rule and let Miss M sit on my lap. At about the time she said, "I need to go potty," I felt a warm spot on my leg. I guess all that Montessori money isn't going into teaching her about the past tense. We made a quick sprint to the cramped little restrooms, where she subsequently refused to sit on the toilet but graciously allowed me to change her royal Pull-Up.
When we got back to our seats, I was surprised to see that the food had already arrived. I was also surprised to see that the rest of our things were gone - our drinks, our silverware, the flowers we'd bought at the Farmer's Market. A passing server said, "Oh, she thought you left." What the what? It's not like she was having a Team Oster meeting in the bathroom. We were away from the table for three, maybe four minutes total. I stood in befuddlement for a moment while they brought back the flowers (two of them broken) and M's hair clip, refilled our juices and brought fresh forks. They apologized for the mistake, although I didn't see any apology on the bill. Miss M didn't seem to notice the upheaval, being that it occurred more than four centimeters from her pancakes and biscuit. She dug into all the carby goodness while I enjoyed my sandwich (sausage, egg and cheese on toasted wheat) and one hijacked pancake. She was so focused that I broke my second restaurant rule and let her have syrup. Aside from the bit she got in her hair while diving after an ill-fated pancake scrap, she did an amazingly good job of keeping the forbidden goo where it belonged.
We ate quickly, perhaps out of fear that our plates would be taken out from under us if our forks were up too long, and then went to stand at the counter for a few minutes until someone could settle us up. I guess I should have just walked away and if someone happened to call me on it say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I thought you left."