I stopped by my mom’s house after calling as I was in the neighborhood getting a couple of supplies for my classroom. In the brief visit, I asked what she was doing for her birthday. She said since nobody had remembered it; it still won’t happen til this Thursday, a week after that conversation; that she booked her and my dad a reservation at Ruth’s Chris.
For years she has always made the outing a family affair. I asked her if she’d like my husband and I to go. When she hesitated, I realized that was because if we went, they would feel awkward for my brother who could not go. If he went, they would wind up paying for him as always. As was par for his course, he’d order the most expensive thing on the menu.
I was mad at this realization, but then offered to have the family to my place for dinner on her actual birthday. I would make her and the family a nice meal. That was agreeable to her. Shortly after this exchange, she called to tell me that we could come to Ruth’s Chris with them that Saturday as my brother had other plans. They just wouldn’t “tell” him about the outing. And the dinner was alright. It was the usual fair.
My husband and I are at the routinely tight part of summer, awaiting to return to regular work and receive subsequent paychecks. Our jobs go on hiatus over the summers, except for odd jobs we do here and there. Given our summer reality, we ordered reasonably. My husband entertained everyone with stories of what he was reading currently and what he felt were relevant news stories.
I tried to show some images on my phone to my mom of a pretty sublet I’d found on airbnb in Ireland, to which I was told off for having my phone out, yet managed to find and share the escapist images despite. Somehow showing beautiful pictures of far off places is bad. I tried to add to the conversation about a book I was reading, but was talked over as usual by my husband, who is gregarious and has been known to hold court. My family loves him for being so funny and entertaining. As a partner, the gregariousness can seem over whelming at times.
Finally the check came. Why my mom wanted anything to do with the check on her birthday outing, I do not know. She asked about it and my dad explained to her that us kids were paying our $85 we owed, and they were taking the rest. And only $85 because they wanted to share a $65 dollar bottle of wine. I would not have had a drink, but it was her celebration.
“Why is it so much for us?” she asks. “We are splitting the bill. We shouldn’t be paying more.”
“Because we had more things,” my dad calmly explained.
She continued to ask why. I jumped in with the facts, “Well, D and I split the $49 dollar meal deal with each other, and the wine with you. Your steak was $52, and with lobster tail made it $77. Then you two had soups at $9 dollars each, and that potato casserole was an extra $8 dollars. So that is why. We are not the cheap kids mom”.
Over the top comment? Perhaps. It felt uncomfortable somewhat as usual.
Yet the next day, I was to meet them at a dying great aunt-in-law’s home where it had suddenly been discovered that she had developed colon cancer.