Pessimistic Optimism

Life as I see it… sort of.


My little angel got herself into a bit of a pickle last night and it happened right before my eyes in a public place without me noticing until too late.

The hunger bug hit me for the third time yesterday around six pm so the family and I cruised down Transit Road to a little place called Applebee’s.  Those of you not from Western New York probably haven’t heard of it, but it’s a pretty cool establishment. Especially since it’s filled with all kinds of sports regalia, including Bills and Sabres stuff and one corner was even devoted to UB (the University of Buffalo).  My guess is that Mr. Applebee is a graduate or his kids go there.

The vast availability of parking spaces told me that there’d be no wait this time, which I’ll have to admit was a little disappointing because my wife and I found a fun way to skip restaurant purgatory, which is where all the people waiting to be seated are jammed in a six by eight cell hallway with way too few seats and they do their time staring straight ahead hoping not to attract the attention of the one person that wants to talk to strangers.  We avoid this voluntary incarceration by heading to the bar.  I know that a lot of people do this, but we do it with two small children. 

My daughter loves kneeling on the stool and touching all the drink accompaniments.  Her favorites are the lemons and limes.  Be rest assured that we always make sure she doesn’t suck all the juice out before she puts them back in the jar.  My son’s usually content with playing with his cars on the mahogany, but occasionally likes to follow the grain of the wood with his tongue until he almost falls off of his stool.  When we’re in these situations we use the motto if they’re happy, we’re happy.  This wouldn’t be necessary this time because my intelligent deduction was correct and there would be no wait.

The word “car” reverberated through my ears as we passed multiple pictures of racecars on the short walk to our designated no-wait table.  The boy’s obsession with our four-wheeled gas guzzling necessities was in full force last night.  The restaurant proved to be an enabler by having a NASCAR show on one of the TV’s he could see.  This actually wasn’t a bad thing because it would help occupy his over stimulated mind.

The menu I perused was unique to me; it was interactive, something like a scratch ‘n sniff.  A more accurate term would be touch ‘n taste because it was covered with bar B Q sauce, which was delicious, but I was in the mood for something else.

My wife and I enjoyed our entrees while the kid’s shared an order of mac ‘n cheese and applesauce.  The waiter brought extra napkins per my request because I could tell this would be a messy one.  I used the last one after my final bite of burger and we cleaned the kids with wet wipes unaware of what was to come.

As I signed the check I noticed peripherally that my daughter’s head was sideways through the wrought iron design on the separation between the dining rooms.  This seemed odd to me because her head is usually straight so I asked my wife to back up the little escape artist’s chair and remove her head… from the railing.  My wife misunderstood my poorly directed instructions; she thought I wanted her to back her away from the wall, not the table so this didn’t help the situation much.

Finally I got out of my chair and tried to free her.  It looked simple; just slide her towards the biggest opening and guide her out slowly.  This didn’t work.  Whatever path her head took for entry was no longer available.  I calmly informed a waitress about our predicament and she calmly freaked out.  I asked her to relax while trying to excavate my little captive and she went off to cry to her manager or get help or something.  At this point many emotions raced through me; fear that my daughter was hurt; embarrassment because people were starting to stare; and believe it or not, amusement.  Don’t get me wrong, I did feel badly for my now crying daughter, but the scene unfolding before my eyes was surreal.

I patiently tried to work my daughter’s head out again, but her noggin grew or the opening shrunk because she wasn’t budging.  Even though I’ve been in this situation before with other people’s children I didn’t think of an obvious possible solution until a busybody Good Samaritan asked if I could pull the bars apart.  Duh!  So I used my super-human strength and pulled the bars apart a little and her head popped out and was straight again just the way I like it.

As soon as she gained her freedom three staff members came to her rescue.  I think they were disappointed that they missed their chance at being heroes, but I’m sure someone will need the Heimlich sooner or later and they’ll be up to the task.

We got out of there as fast as possible.  Well, we did stop at the hostess podium and scammed two balloons for the kiddies.  So, I guess, we got out of there relatively fast… as possible.

My curious three-and-a-half-year-old was no worse for the wear and she hasn’t brought it up since.  It will probably come out in therapy when she’s a young adult.  There goes my retirement money.        


May 16, 2007 - Posted by | Buffalo, family, Humor, kids, life, parenthood, parenting


  1. Gosh, B.I.L. It frightens me to think you think that WNY is the only place with Applebee’s. They even have them in Korea, but without the Buffalo nostalgia, which really is too bad, because alittle piece of home would really hit the spot right now (But I’ll settle for Hawaii ;-). Oh, and by the way. GO SABRES!

    Comment by Aunt Weather | May 17, 2007 | Reply

  2. SIL…it’s so nice to hear other people’s horror stories. I’m happy to see my granddaughter’s beautiful little head is no worse for it. She, tramautized? Not even briefly… she’s that good! It was not too long ago that we experienced those same things too. Now why would Applebee’s have designed a grillwork that didn’t pass OSHA or the Children’s safety group guidelines? Shame on them!

    Comment by The Grandmother | May 18, 2007 | Reply

  3. A.W.,
    I imagine Mr. Applebee must come from a very large family because I hear there are a ton of ’em out there.
    Sabres lost, I’m sad.

    She still hasn’t mentioned the “incident” and I’m glad because I only like to discuss the good things with my kids. They can talk about the tough stuff where they’re supposed to, you know, with their friends.

    Comment by linusmann | May 20, 2007 | Reply

  4. *chuckling*

    Oh, been here, done this–with a captain’s chair and an exciteable 3 year old.
    She’s no worse for the experience.

    Errr…..wait….come to think of it, she always asks for a booth when we dine out…..

    Comment by mel | May 28, 2007 | Reply

  5. Mel,
    Glad to see that you can laugh about the experience. Hopefully our daughters aren’t suppressing too much from their experiences or WE’ll pay for it in the long run.

    Comment by linusmann | May 30, 2007 | Reply

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