My husband is hilarious. It’s one of the many reasons I love him. Another appealing quality is his natural ability to Get Things Done. He’s a strong, assertive man. Forceful yet smooth.
Take, for instance, our trip to Chicago last weekend. After our “Wicked” matinee, I decided we’d try one of the top restaurants in Chicago, Rick Bayless’s Frontera Grill, seating capacity 65. In a city of close to three million people, to think we could be seated at 6pm on a Saturday night — with two kids in tow — is something only a coupla hoosiers would be foolish enough to think they could do. But we were one five-dollar cab ride away so heck, we gave it a shot.
And speaking of shots, the only alcohol on the menu at the celebrated chef’s downtown restaurant is tequila. My husband, being the vodka man that he is, took one for the team, sucked it up and ordered two margaritas for our two-hour wait.
I should back up. The maitre de (which is French for master of) first greeted our party of four with cool courtesy, telling us to take a walk and try back in a half hour for a pager. I smiled, turned on my heel and herded the fam back out to the sidewalk of Clark Street across from an adult bookstore. We walked a few blocks, grabbed some bottled juice for the kids to tide them over and returned thirty minutes later for our pager. Looking surprised by our commitment to dining at Frontera, the maitre de relinquished a pager which I handed to the husband.
For fifteen minutes the four of us tried to make ourselves inconspicuous and out of the way of the adult patrons, scrunching ourselves as close as possible to the the shelves displaying an array of Rick Bayless cookbooks and Frontera sauces. Dan disappeared into the swankified bar (seats 30) for grown-up drinks and returned with two identical glasses full of tart, pale green, high octane liquids. I sucked my delectable happy potion in under five minutes, and my husband nursed his conservatively. Two chairs opened in the waiting area opened, and we seated the kids with instructions to be on their very best fine restaurant behavior.
Five minutes later, Mr. Bates handed me his drink. “I just don’t like lime.” Oh happy day! Two more chairs opened – our luck continued! The kids were content, we had seats for the next hour of waiting, and I had me a fresh, fabulous, barely dented margarita. One or two minutes later, when the master of the restaurant stepped away, my husband stood and approached the maitre de station. A hostess peeked over at me briefly, and Dan turned to tell us, “Okay. Here we go.” Pleasantly surprised, the children and I followed him to the table where we celebrated with joy the freshest, most flavorful meal we’ve shared as a family.
Over coffee and flan for two I said, “Honey, I’m surprised we got in so quickly.” He smirked. I said, “What? What’d you do?”
“Heart,” he said. I had a heart attack five years ago, which became useful and necessary to invoke in order to avoid lines and long waits in the months during my recovery.
“What did you say?!” I laughed.
“I just told her, ‘My wife had a heart attack. If she has to wait too long, she drinks too much,'” he said. (That’s when the hostess peered over at two-fisted me sitting there holding two margarita glasses.)
I laughed harder and more loudly than I have in, I’d say years. Though the alcohol had mellowed in my system since those earlier cocktails, my son said, “Mom’s smashed!” I was smashed on giddy joy, and as we sauntered down Wacker back to our hotel, I laughed all the way at my husband’s hilarious resourcefulness. I love him.
With all my heart.