Steak on Saturday nights! Sounds good doesn’t it? A trip to the most famous steak house in town for a delectable dinner so Nana could close the kitchen and take a much needed rest on a Saturday night. Warm sour dough bread wrapped in white linens snuggled into woven baskets with slabs of cold, creamery butter in a silver bowl as its companion awaited our indulgence. This would be followed by juicy melt-in-your-mouth rib eye steaks, mounds of ravioli, perfectly cooked green beans and pot shots at the staff. On a light note the sundaes were great!

Nana would begin her Saturday night out routine early in the day and in a somewhat predictable manner. Since the house was always thoroughly cleaned on Thursdays, the only thing she needed to focus on was getting herself ready for that night. It started with a leisurely cup of coffee with biscotti, an hour of tv aerobics, and a quick sweeping of the front porch. Next she and mama rounded-up us kids up for the more important stuff. Two errands. Shopping and the beauty salon. We knew better than to complain or she would snap a twig off of the old weeping willow tree in the backyard and give us a gentle swipe across the legs as she herded us into the car. Complain? Not on your life!

Our first stop, a saunter through Joseph Magnins with a lovely purchase from the saleslady whom I believed to live there since she was ALWAYS at the counter to bid nana an over-rehearsed “Have a happy day”. Did she know something about our Saturdays? Hmm, obviously she didn’t. I’m thinking it had more to do with her commission. The next stop was for nana to wrap her already well coiffed self into strict order at Bella’s on 6th Avenue. Nana’s hairdresser Isabella was indeed very pretty and did the same for her clientele. From her perfect eyeliner to her high-heels she had a way of turning my already pretty nana into a raving beauty with her handy tools, brushes and hair products. In awe, I knew that one day I too would be her client. Then it was back home for hot bathes, dress in our nice Saturday duds, and then wait for grandpa to get home and whisk us off to eat.

Grandpa took pride in his bride of 30+ years and she loved that he did. He loved carrying her on his arm knowing they didn’t get any prettier than her (or spicier for that matter).  He was an extremely hard working man who kept a rigid schedule. Always up before sunrise and home before sunset. He took very good care of his family including us grand kids who had moved into his home at his prompting when mama and daddy separated. He wanted us there with him and it was the best feeling in the world. Being wanted, loved and well cared for made for a sturdy and happy life. That’s not to say he didn’t have expectations for us. He did. And was very rigid on how they were carried out. We never questioned him! We did just so. Oh but how we loved him for his strength and direction. He was an entrepreneur and taught us the game just as planned. We were a tight family because we played by his rules. His long arduous work week always ended in our Saturday night outing. Any physical expense it may have cost him to shower and get ready we were all there together walking to the car like little soldiers headed for the steak house.

As I look back to those nights I feel confident in saying the restaurant scene was always somewhat rehearsed because somehow it always played out the same. We were always greeted by the same Greek Goddess who no doubt only moonlighted as a hostess on Saturday nights in her gold lame and stilettos to get my grandmother’s goat. Then off to the table we would go. By this time I would have heard a snicker from behind. Nana was somewhat (okay, very) jealous of other women smiling at grandpa or saying hello to him by his first name and would never let it go until addressed. Not a good way to start dinner but weekly non-the-less. Next was the waitress. Her “hello” to grandpa along with a gentle pat on the shoulder was certain to more than raise my grandmother’s eyebrows and cause pointed darts to fly in his direction instantly. How we continued to share family dinners at the steak house week after week still amazes me. Grandpa would sit there and smile while nana made certain that everyone within hearing distance knew good and well how rude and inappropriate the staff were. Her biggest complaint being that they new her just as well as him, but never even attempted to greet her in such a comfortable, shall we say, fashion. As an adult I can’t imagine how or why they did this week after week? Perhaps this explains why I very rarely eat out! Mystery solved.

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