The best and worst of human nature is magnified on Hallmark holidays, and Mother’s Day 2016 was no exception.
Like other celebratory occasions when a greeting card costs more than a gallon of milk, a few of my hospitality brothers and sisters reported in.
“Why do people use restaurants as a safety net to act like morons on holidays?” asked my dear friend Winky (don’t ask) in his standard rhetorical fashion.
Going on his 16th year at an upscale place loved by Boston critics and Zagat ratings alike, Winky thinks his regular customers dine like they drive.
“Everybody goes too fast, they cut each other off and you rarely see any directional signals,” he said, boosting his metaphor to the next degree. “It’s family stuff, you know? At a time when they should be relaxing and paying attention to each other, somebody gets overly aggressive. Chit-chat comes to a complete halt, or someone is careless and somebody else gets hurt. In a place like mine, we get a lot of regulars and I know what rush hour is going to be like based on who’s in the books.
“There was the oldest granddaughter’s new boyfriend, who kept calling a rich Wellesley matriarch by her first name,” Winky shared. “Everyone else calls her Gram, or Mrs. M. Even the son-in-law who is almost as old as she is calls her Mrs. M. It wrecked the old lady’s day and I bet I don’t see that kid at the next gathering.”
Another friend reported how awkward it was when a 40-something mom and young son were seated at a table next to the woman’s ex-husband, his trophy wife and her two poorly behaved children. To everyone’s credit, conversation was cordial. Things went well until the ex-husband offered to cover his ex-wife and son’s brunch tab. Visibly angered, the trophy wife didn’t say a word during the even more-awkward goodbyes.
A Freeport bartender messaged me to say she shut off two men who were engaged in nasty conversation about their ex-wives. “I didn’t really need to shut off one of them, but they were throwing shade on their kid’s moms. Calling them greedy, manipulative. Nothing about if they were good moms or not. No mom should be disrespected on Mother’s Day.”
Lastly, I received a Facebook message from a friend about how much he loves his step-mom, and misses his bio-mom who passed away years ago. “A lot of my friends were raised by women who aren’t their birth mothers,” he wrote. “One of my buddies was in foster care and got adopted in middle school. Another guy lived with his aunt and grandmother most of his life. Those women get overlooked.”
His words stuck with me, as I know many women, and some men, too, who aren’t bio-moms but still deserve the Happy Mother’s Day message. He suggested restaurants be more sensitive in this regard. Political correctness aside, I’m unsure how this aim could be achieved, aside from tactfulness in greeting people.
Hopefully, everyone had a Mother’s Day that made them smile, be it from a well-served brunch, or a safely stored, loving memory.
Cheers to the True family, and Arthur Fink and company, who filled the dining room with Mother’s Day love. The busy morning was spent serving crab cake Benedicts and bacon-spiked Bloody Mary’s. I was anticipating a “Pity Party – Table for One” kind of day, it was anything but.
Learning to “adult” on opposite coasts, both of my daughters stepped up large, reminding me why it’s sincerely my pleasure to work two jobs these days.
Thankful I was working, instead of off on some coveted Mother’s Day adventure like days gone by, my sweet restaurant boss showed up with a gift card and hugs.
Moving me to tears, Carly Kardashian’s BFF left flowers at the door.
The day was complete with an awe- and gratitude-filled phone call to my mother, The Betty. Adjusting her bonnet to rush off to a Kentucky Derby party, The Betty interrupted my mushy moment to tell me she was phenomenally proud of me. For the third time that day, I cried. But they were far from tears of self-pity.
Dabbing my eyes, I realized that even if we do get stuck in the nasty traffic rotary of life, Mother’s Day, no matter who gets the Hallmark card, is deserving of the $4.25 many people spend. That, and another bacon-spiked Bloody Mary.
Natalie Ladd lives in Portland. When not pecking away, she can be found serving the masses at a busy eatery, or tirelessly conducting happy-hour field research. Hospitality questions or comments should be sent to email@example.com, and may be featured in a future column. Follow Natalie on Twitter: @Nhladd.