The phone rang late this afternoon. I’d just polished off a small plate of tortilla chips with salsa and was sitting down to ink some comics, when Sandra came in and told me richardbliss was on the phone.
Richard is a good friend, as well as a business associate. We have all kinds of things to talk about at all kinds of times. Long story short, this time he was inviting me and my family out to dinner with him and his daughters. There’s this chinese buffet about five blocks from my place, and they were all coming back from an afternoon of skiing and were hungry.
It’s not often someone offers to treat my whole family to dinner, eating out, at a place I know I can feed the kids something they’ll actually EAT. Naturally I accepted Richard’s gracious offer, and the late afternoon and evening proceeded to get a whole lot more interesting (in a good way) than I’d imagined it prior to the ring of the phone.
I’ve only met Richard’s daughters in passing. There are four of them, and they overlap my own kids’ ages only partially. The oldest two are 12 and 15, and the youngest two are 9 (I think) and 5. Mine are 9, 7, 3-going-on-6, and 18 months. And we all got to know each other at a big seats-eleven table. Richard’s family sat on the south side, and mine sat on the North. Kiki (my 9 year-old) and Link (age 7) engaged the 15 year-old, the 9-year-old, and Richard in a game of “I’m shooting my straw-wrapper at you,” which devolved, between reprimands, into throwing things at each other. Patches (18 months) scowled the full length of the table at the 15-year-old who was trying to get him to smile, and the little guy finally resorted to taking a handful of food and then turning halfway round in his chair so he couldn’t see her while he ate.
In all it was fun. The food was good, too. General Tso wasn’t really in the house, so I grabbed some of the hot chili oil from the Mongolian Barbecue station and doctored the Imposter Tso’s chicken. It was almost hot enough, but even munching on the red pepper pods failed to light me up. Still, it was tasty. Link got pretty good at fending for himself, and when she wasn’t throwing things at her new friends, Kiki did a great job of polishing off a full plate of goodies.
Gleek and Patches mostly ate pudding. I guess that’s why the buffet discounts 60 cents for every year your child is under eleven — they want parents to feel good letting their kids fill up on the cheap, sugary slop.
After dinner I invited the Bliss clan over to my place for a bit of unwinding and digesting — besides, I needed to return a movie to Richard (The Fifth Element, which chalain and I watched last night). I knew the kids still wanted to play together, and play they did. Patches warmed up to everybody, and Richard tried (unsuccessfully, thank heaven) to teach him to bonk his head into a wall and then giggle about it. Link, Kiki, and Gleek had a great time with the 15-year-old, the 9-year-old, and the 5-year old (I know their names, but I’m not telling them to YOU because they haven’t given me permission to) An hour or so later when they headed home to Richard’s, my kids were all giving out hugs and considering tantrumming about the evils of departure.
I’m a little saddened to know that Richard is moving out of town within 2 months, and that it’s unlikely we’ll have the chance to rumpus together as a pair of families again. It was a wonderful evening, though, made all the more wonderful by the knowledge that it probably won’t happen again.
Grab joy where it’s offered, folks. Make fast friends. Never be afraid to Drop What You’re Doing.
I finished the comics I’d planned to finish. I just did so much later in the evening than anticipated. No regrets.