Sunday, June 29, 2008

50 and a day

It was an okay birthday yesterday - not the kind of celebration some people have to celebrate a "landmark" birthday, but that was fine. I am somewhat birthday de-sensitized; I find it hard to get into it. For the last several years my birthdays have often been overshadowed by Sad Drama.

In 2001, I was told about husband's terminal cancer on my birthday. (How Lifetime Channel Movie is that?)

In 2003, I was sitting in the nursing home while he was dying.

2004-2005 weren't Drama Years, I was just busy with home repair projects and such, I think I did go out with friends.

2006, my father had died the week before. I got lots of flowers that year.

2007, another not too dramatic year. Just that whole brain aneurysm thing, but that was February so June was a piece of cake by comparison.

2008, my mother is in a nursing home and I don't think she'll be leaving it to live more independently again, and this is sad and frustrating because we still don't have a "good" reason why.

I stopped by to visit her yesterday, she was sleeping, she looked so frail. I'll stop by again today.

So my birthday celebration was low key - no hot date, when you spend your free time in nursing homes it's hard to pick up men. Girlchild took me to dinner. We were going to play it safe and go to a reliable, familiar choice, but on Friday I had an inspiration - let's go someplace we've always heard about but never tried! So we went to The Melting Pot. It's a fondue restaurant. The Melting Pot chain originated here in Central FL, I have heard about it for decades, people really enjoy it, and neither of us had ever been there and always meant to try it, so we would go. It is touted as a celebration restaurant, a date restaurant, a special experience, and we are all about climbing out of our respective ruts.

Okay, so we went, and now we can say definitively, when asked, that we did not see the point and did not like it, and we both left feeling kind of sick. The meal is four courses, a salad, a cheese fondue that quickly forms a cheese brick in the stomach, then a meat/seafood entree, and dessert, which we agreed is the only good reason to go. I'm not knocking the restaurant itself, other people really get into it. The food was fresh, the service was friendly and attentive, but we just didn't get the point. It was definitely different, but sitting around a pot squinting in the dark (it was quite dark, I guess it's supposed to be romantic) at a piece of chicken poaching in broth lost its appeal very quickly. The cheese fondue course was so heavy it was sickening, so by the time the entree arrived I was feeling icky, and by the time the meal was over we were both praying for death. We soldiered on and tried the small chocolate fondue dessert, which was supposed to have a "variety" of fruit but had only sliced strawberries and bananas, plus cake bits and, inexplicably, Rice Krispie Treats. It was good, but as Girl pointed out, you can do this at home with chocolate sauce and a microwave. Girl also pointed out that though our waitress asked if this visit was a celebration and Girl told her it was my birthday, the restaurant didn't do anything.

It's also really expensive for what you get, and I sat there watching a chunk of beef poaching in broth (Who the hell cooks good meat that way? But the alternative was frying it in oil) I found myself thinking of a couple of local restaurants within 5 minutes of MP, I didn't suggest because I thought they were too expensive, but which would have been cheaper and infinitely better. Frankly, sitting in the dark squinting at a piece of chicken, wondering whether it's done and wishing for a flashlight, seems more like a camping trip gone bad than a special evening out.

We did have a good time, laughed and made a lot of jokes about it, but Girl said exactly what I was thinking - looking at the many couples, she said she didn't think she could date a guy who thought this was a romantic date. I concurred. And I cannot imagine it as a romantic date restaurant, because after feeding me that cheese course, your romantic evening would be dead in the water, if you get my drift. I had a tummyache, and all I wanted was a cup of tea and my jammies.

So we can say we did The Melting Pot, we lived to tell about it, and have no desire to ever go again. Bleh.

I was going to write a Deep and Thoughtful Post about turning 50 and personal goals and Life, the Universe, and Everything, but I'm still burping that cheese.

I did get a walk in yesterday morning - each dog got a short trip, then I took a longer walk alone. I saw these little guys sitting alone on the lake shore, and began looking for their mommy. (Photo taken with my phone.)

Another walker joined me, and we both scanned the lake, looking for the mama duck. Finally, from off in the distance, a duck noticed us and came paddling our way, quacking, and the babies roused themselves and got into the water, still in a tight cluster, and headed her way. They all reunited in the water, and the worried humans dispersed. But mama was really, really far from her babies, and there are dogs and other hazards around - it's the first time I saw a duck that really could use parenting classes.


Restless Knitter said...

Belated Happy Birthday!

I don't think I could've described The Melting Pot any better. It's definitely not all that it's cracked up to be. Which makes me wonder, who are the people that are making this place sound so special?

Catherine said...

The chain was founded in Maitland, so I've been hearing about it for 25 years, people telling me, "Oh, you have to go!" Okay, I went. Will not go back.

zippiknits said...

Happy Birthday anyway. You have had an awful meal out of which many laughs can evolve. lol

I am sorry it cost so much, that, and actually eating it (!) are the only drawbacks to the experience. That sounds like bloody all, eh?

Vicki said...

Happy Birthday to you. 50 is a big deal - it's the new 30, so they say. Treat yourself to something wonderful. After all you have been through, you deserve it. - Vicki

Janet said...

I've been reading your blog since your husband was sick, so I guess that's been awhile, eh? My birthday is tomorrow--you're two years older than I am. So, I've felt a kind of kinship, in a Moon Child way, toward you.

I wasn't exactly sure what the actual date of your birthday was, but I was thinking about you this weekend, hoping you were doing something fun. Sorry about the cheese brick! Happy Belated Birthday!

ChelleC said...

Happy belated birthday. Gosh, I'm so sorry to hear the Melting Pot isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's funny because I wanted to try that place for a long time. We have one here in the Kansas City area. I've heard it is pricey. I remember when we had a fondue pot when I was a teen in the 70s.

Catherine said...

That's why we went, Chelle - we'd heard about it forever, always meant to go, it was my 50th and the rest of my life is pretty much in the crapper, so let's do something Special! It was amusing, but IMHO fondue really is a nasty thing to do to perfectly good ingredients. I wanted to grab those defenseless (and expensive) bits of steak and seafood and run across the street to Terra Mia, screaming for emergency chef assistance, perhaps sobbing, "Do you KNOW what they do to a nice piece of salmon over THERE!?"

I had fond memories of a fondue pot from the 70s too - some sort of swiss cheese and wine concoction that was really good as I recall, but apparently my digestive system was a lot more athletic when I was a teenager. Like my knees, my stomach no longer rises to major athletic challenges, or my palate is more sophisticated, but fondue ain't food now.

ChelleC said...

Catherine, you are hilarious!! And it's so true, what tasted so good with a teenage stomach does NOT sound good at all to my middle-aged stomach. And I just about died laughing when I pictured you grabbing those defenseless bits of steak and seafood and running them across the street to a reputable chef.