Birthday Dinner

/*On this day, sometime in history, Mary Todd kissed her husband and said Happy Birthday.*

It was a frigid cold night and dark before six p. m. as they drove in their luxury auto into the short entrance to Le Bistro, the fanciest French Restaurant in the county. They drove up to the front door of the country style house and an attendant met them quickly. First, the passenger doors were opened for the two young ladies on the right side of the car. They stepped out in their best furs and jewels which were too fancy for their age, but one of the girls loved this because it was her night, her birthday dinner. She had no idea at what a sight she was, a little girl playing dress up with real furs and diamonds. She could have gone anywhere and she chose this restaurant and she was finally told she was old enough to come.

Her older sister, also out of touch with reality and overdressed, as they waited for their father to speak with the valet before joining them. They turned to face the voice as they heard him bark commands about being careful with his expensive car.

"Can you drive a car like this? Have you driven one before?" barked the driver, lower lip quivering as if he was about to explode.

"Oh, yes, sir, I can drive it. Yes, yes, many times. It is safe with me. Enjoy your dinner." said the attendant with a smile. One watching the scene could imagine what the attendant was thinking with a laugh.

"I'm watching you." said the driver with his stern face while joining his daughters at the front doors.

As soon as the car turned the corner he gave the next command.

"OK, Let's get inside, what are you waiting for, it is freezing out here girls. Let's march." said the father.

The went inside the entrance and were greeted by a pretty young girl at a coat check closet. As the girls removed their furs, they remarked to each other in low voices how it looked like spring with the walls painted with murals of vines on fences and long sweeping views of green pastures and French country side. The lights were low but not dim. The atmosphere was warm and relaxing. The two girls walked to to the podium and turned to watch their father bark more orders to the young woman, glad they were not the focus of the berating.

"Don't bury these coats way in the back. Be careful with the furs. Keep them together, but don't stuff them all on one hanger." ordered the father.

"Here you go sir." said the coat check girl with a smile as she handed him a claim check which he placed in his pocket after giving her his unhappy scowl and turned to see his two lovely daughters waiting with smiles on their faces as if they were next at the amusement park to go on a ride. (This is just a metaphor because he never took them to amusement parks.)

He smiled and opened his arms. Gave a short whistle of the the scales and walked over to them, placing one on either side of where he stood. He looked into the restaurant that he had never entered himself, even though he told the girls he had, and smiled when asked how many for dinner.

" Three please. We have a reservation" said the father.

"It is my birthday." said the youngest girl, hoping that it may make something special appear during their dinner. The older girl was silent while she respectfully followed the man in the tuxedo.

"Oh, happy birthday." said the stiffly dressed man with a heavy accent. (Please note, that the accent may not have been genuine.)

They were seated near the front of the restaurant in the center of the room. It was early for a Saturday night, six o'clock, and there were only a few couples having an early supper. For this family, it was a late dinner. They lived by strict military time tables most days. The happiest time of their father's life, they girls knew well, was his time in the service of his country. And if anyone started him, he could literally go on for hours. (The girls could recite these stories, but not a single line of a Shakespeare Sonnet.

"May I get a cocktail for anyone?" asked the waiter as he passed out the menus.

That is the end of this reality. That is the point of no return. The girls, in their traumatic stress, deny what is coming. But deep in their minds among the id and ego, there was a fear ignited. Their father orders a brand-name gin martini. The older daughter orders white wine, she is of legal age. The younger, a Shirley Temple.

Why is this the end of reality, well, there are alcoholics, then there are gin drunks. From only the small window that the girls saw, a gin drinker didn't get sick when he had a few, he became meaner.