The morning of my birthday dinner, Sunday, November 12th, I was browsing through the pink pages and considering starting the-second-to-last-page crossword puzzle. Just as I came to the conclusion not to start it (because every time I do, I never can finish it in the 'average' 62 minutes and therefore feel like a dumb ass) my cell phone rang.
I looked at the number on the phone. Hmm- who would be calling me from the 707 area code?
"Hello, may I please speak to Kristen."
"Hello this is Andrea at the French Laundry."
I gasped. This was like being the theater nerd in high school and having the most popular girl in the class call me. Not that I would know anything about that... Oh, and I couldn't remember who called me, so her name actually wasn't Andrea- but that sounded French Laundry-ish to me...
"Hello. We just had a last minute cancellation for lunch at 12:45. Will your party of four be able to join us?"
I looked at the clock and it was 11am. Is this a joke?
"Um. Maybe. May I put you on hold while I call the rest of my party who is in Palo Alto?"
"Yes, I'll hold."
Wow. When I put my name on the waiting list one month ago, I thought there was no chance. We made other plans. Should I cancel them and rearange our whole day?
I called Mom and Dad, who happened to still be in their PJ's, and I asked if they could start driving up to the city in about 10 minutes? Asking my mom to be ready in 10 minutes is akin to asking Jesus to worship Zeus. And Felix had a call at 2pm anyway that would be hard to get out of. So the long and the short of it was we wouldn't be making it to the French Laundry for lunch that day.
"I'm sorry, I don't think we'd be able to make it up to Yountville on time."
Dad later talked about what we would have had to do to make that reservation. It involved each pair separately chartering a plane or helicopter up to Yountville and then taking a limo over to the restaurant. No problem. Easy. Cheap.
And the amazing part is, I'm sure The French Laundry filled that lunch time table with the less than two hour notice. And the lucky party was probably estatic to get the chance to spend $300 per person on lunch! Now at this point I have to ask, are we giving this restaurant a little too much power? I thought Felix put it nicely when he said "just tell them your special occasion and they will decide when (and if) you get celebrate it." Well I say no! I'm going to decide when I'll celebrate my birthday or anniversary! And if no restaurant will accept me at the time I want, I'll go to the golden arches. This is my life, and no restaurant will take my birthday hostage and then tease me and torture me as if I were a lizard that a five year old caught! America, I will decide when my birthday candles shall be blown out and I'm proud of it. God Bless America!
But maybe I'll be a bit flexible for The French Laundry.
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