You know how there are people who get grumpy when they haven't eaten recently? Ok, yes, basically if you know ANY people, you know people like this. I married one of these people. And since I am one of these people too, you can go right ahead and assume that Son also has this trait. The condition of hunger seems to affect our ability to think, act or speak with any semblance of reason or logic. Depending on how long we've been afflicted by starvation, our response can range anywhere from mildly cranky to throwing ourselves on the floor and screaming simply because someone else dares to EXIST in the same house.
The other night, I had taken Son to the Big City and happened to end our errands around the same time Hubs was leaving work. Son was already displaying symptoms. After all, it had been nearly an hour since he'd eaten last. So I called Hubs and asked if he'd like to meet us for dinner. After walking out of one restaurant because the server had the audacity to linger at another table asking inane questions about beverages, Hubs decided the appropriate response was to go elsewhere. I could almost see the "Low Fuel" light blinking on his forehead so off we went.
We ended up at IHOP, partly because it was close, but mostly because Hubs has a thing about eating breakfast foods for dinner which is cool because so do I. And Son...he's 14. He'll eat anything.
Once Hubs had chocolate milk and maple syrup on board and his blood sugar was stabilizing, we began to reminisce about a prior visit to IHOP which took place years ago.
It was the good old days when Dad was able to eat in front of Mom without getting in trouble. Most of us had our Low Fuel lights flashing and that's how Dad, Mom, Hubs, Son and I ended up at IHOP. Again, because it was very close by and when it's time to eat we just don't want to waste time.
We had started eating and were beginning the journey back to the land of the rational thinkers, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, when I noticed something had caught Hubs' attention. I assumed he'd been distracted by something shiny, and since I like shiny things too, I turned to see what he was looking at.
Turns out it was more of a "whom" than a "what." I looked at Hubs. Hubs looked at me. We both looked back at the man who portrayed one of my most beloved movie characters.
"Is that...?" I whispered out of the side of my mouth. Very nonchalant. Hubs nodded back, feigning fascination with his toast.
"Yeah, it's gotta be. Look at his shoes." It was about that point when Mom, who was sitting across from me caught a glimpse as he was seated behind and slightly to the side of her. She stared at his reflection in the glass. (Staring at a reflection is obviously much less intrusive than staring at the actual person, am I right?)"Oh it's got to be him!" Mom announced with glee. "Who else would wear tennis shoes with a suit?"
Son, who was about 9 at the time and had clearly not received the memo on how to fool a celebrity into thinking one is very sophisticated and is not star struck at all, immediately leaned across the table and in a whisper loud enough to carry across county lines asked, "Dry eyes?" I tried to shush him, but he had already moved on to "Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?" Then he started scrambling for a pen and asking us if he could go get Ben Stein's autograph. Meanwhile, Mike and Mom were discussing the fact that there was a limo outside and a driver-type person had just been seated with Stein.
"It'll just take a second, Mom, c'mon, please?" I'm not sure why I didn't give permission. It just seemed like celebrities would probably really appreciate being able to eat in peace without being gawked at, whispered about and being pestered for autographs. And after all, we were already doing the gawking and whispering thing, but I like to pretend that we were somehow cool enough that Stein wouldn't realize what we were up to, despite being seated about 10 feet away.
"No," I informed Son. "Let him finish his dinner without interruption. If we're still here when he leaves, you may ask then." Son then started eating with such extreme slowness I'm not entirely sure he even had anything on his fork every time he raised it oh-so-slowly to his lips. It was at about that time that Stein got up and headed toward the restroom.
"Now, Mom? He's not eating now, can I ask now?"
"Um...you know, I think this is probably not a good time to interrupt either."
While Stein was out of earshot (I hope) we sat and dissected his life and career. We quoted his film work, his commercials, the fact that he'd been a speech writer for Presidents Nixon and Ford. And how weird it seemed that he would have been a speech-writer for these Presidents and how much more entertaining it would have been to hear Stein deliver those speeches himself. Then he returned to his table and we returned to our covert glances from the corners of our eyes. Or in Mom's case, the reflection in the window. I know. We are just so cool.
Within a few minutes, Stein finished his meal and approached our table. Seriously.
"Hiiii," he said. That voice. No question it was really Ben Stein, but he kindly introduced himself anyway, "My name is Ben Stein." We all pretended to have just barely noticed his presence and greeted him. Actually I started with "hello" but half-way through decided to go with something else, but couldn't think of what exactly, so basically I just greeted him with "Hell."
"I'm participating in a debate tonight at the college across the street..." We all looked out the window as if just noticing for the first time ever that there is a college there. I told you. We're very cool.
"We're debating Intelligent Design and we need people to come sit in the audience. We will pay you each twenty dollars (it's very important that you imagine him saying all of this in that voice.) if you'll come and just sit in the audience for two hours." Really? Go listen to one of my favorite actor/writers and get PAID for it? But before I could even get "Absolutely!" out...Mom and Hubs mentioned that although it sounded very interesting, it was getting late, it was a school night, Hubs had to work the next morning...or something like that.
Stein was gracious. He thanked us for our time and approached another table with his pitch. I wondered briefly if he enjoyed being a celebrity who interrupts the mere mortals while at dinner. I know I appreciated the irony.
As he was leaving, Dad, who was also a bit disappointed at missing out on twenty dollars for doing nothing more than he planned to do the rest of the night...sitting...watched Stein as he finally returned to his table, collected his things and prepared to leave.
Apparently Dad's blood sugar levels had returned to normal around then. Dad, who doesn't exactly speak quietly, stared after Stein and mused, "You know...that guy kind of looks like that guy from the "Dry Eyes" commercial.
All in all, it was probably a good thing we didn't go to the debate. It would have been unfair. With us there, the theory of Intelligent Design wouldn't stand a chance.