Saturday, 31 December 2011


I was trying to think of a suitable Cheering Holiday post; however with all the paint stripping and visiting family preparations, my brain is more idle than usual.  And so, the only story that came to my mind took place a few years ago, in my sister’s neighbourhood of Toronto’s Beaches. 

A few weeks ago, walking down Queen St East, I happily discovered that a certain restaurant was intact and seemed to be enjoying a steady flow of satisfied patrons; all inside, undeniably and blissfully oblivious to The CURSE hovering in the heavens overhead waiting to wallop.

Why is it not a good idea to go to your favourite neighbourhood restaurant with several seniors in tow, especially when one of them has a history of acting mildly inappropriate and eccentric?  The answer is told in this story and even though, Auntie B was literally as sweet as pie, not one unkind word uttered in weeks, she was “Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens, Warm Woolen Mittens, etc. etc.”  But when the “Schnitzel with Noodle” wasn’t quite right….ahh ha….that is where the trouble began.

Our Wee eighty-three year old Auntie, visiting from Glasgow, insisted on taking us all out for dinner, a lovely suggestion…. or so we thought.
The restaurant in question boasts a quintessential atmosphere and features a diverse mix of Italian pasta dishes and a variety of salad and seafood dishes. Truly scrumptious and well priced.
Perhaps the Curse placed had been abated by the name of the restaurant?  A name I learned was chosen out of pure love for the owner’s daughter.  This love perhaps, acted as a shield (like in Harry Potter’s case) and protected this peaceful locale against the rage of a vexed Scottish woman’s retaliation.   I was into about my third mouthful of the most delicious Fettuccini with grilled chicken, leeks, pine nuts, goat cheese and sweet basil pesto sauce, when I noticed the transformation taking place beside me. 

My mother, two sisters, brother-in-law and ninety year old stepfather, G, were quite merry, however, Auntie B’s facial expression had changed from the amorous Auntie to one who now pondered her surroundings with contempt. 

Perhaps it was too much wine, we didn’t know what medication she was on. Auntie had chosen the least expensive item on the menu and so perhaps she was cross that we all hadn’t followed suit.  She began by complaining that her meal was bland and played around with her utensils.   My sister vainly sought to readjust her disposition in order to save the mood over our lovely meal, yet it was plain that the scolding supremacy that was a dark hidden part of her personality had become UNLEASHED.  The night was doomed. 

She began by insulting her favourite victims; MEN., looking around the room and criticizing them all.  Then she looked at me with a scornful smile and told me that I could no longer PULL. – TRANSLATION – I was no longer attractive to the opposite sex.  She looked around the table and decided that none of us, “Could PULL.”  I choked on my chicken and had a fit of the giggles, only to be told flatly that, “it was a shame that not only had I lost my attractiveness but I was clearly SIMPLE as well!”  This only made me laugh harder, and I was given a look of CONTEMPT, with a loud comment, “GONE OFF YOUR CRUMPET, you have.” 

She then turned on poor unsuspecting G, who is over 90!  “Look at you!”  she said, “You don’t know if it’s Christmas or Easter, and deaf as a post as well,"  (which is true) so he only smiled and waved. 
 My younger sister then became victim, to be told that her dancing lessons were a waste of time, obviously she had no talent and at her age why did she bother at all?  And why had they chosen to come to this place, she pointed at my brother-in-law, who is a talented chef, why wasn’t he cooking the meal?  I can’t remember what she said to my other sister.  The only one who managed to escape the Flings of Fury was my Mother.  She looked at her with tears in her eyes, “None of you girls come close to the beauty of that woman over there.  She is the only one here who can still PULL.”   “What?”  said G.  “Did you say you were FULL?  Is that why you’re not eating?”

Again, my sisters and I sought to turn the situation around but to no avail, we talked of happy times we’d had in Glasgow, past parties, shopping sprees and dancing to Frank Sinatra.  But again, tinged with mocking drama she insulted our dance moves, and decided we had chosen petty conservative lives.  So, after dragging us all through the dirt, and Gulping our glasses of wine, my sisters and I eyed one another with a mutual understanding of, “let’s get the hell out of here and shove them all into a taxi so that we can enjoy ourselves.”

My Mother became angry, “Oh you’ve always been such a Drama Queen, what’s your problem this evening?”
Auntie B replied, “Look at her! She’s so lovely when she’s angry.”  Then with tears in her eyes she handed the incredibly pleasant Server her Maestro Credit Card to pay the bill.

The Server examined the card and asked Auntie a sensible question, “Is this a credit card Madam?  I haven’t seen this Maestro before.”
“Of course it’s a credit card, you silly girl!”
“I’m sorry Madam we don’t accept Maestro, only Visa or Mastercard.”
“What bullshit!”  Auntie shrieked.  It was then that the rest of the patrons began to notice our not so happy little group.
“I truly am sorry but we are not equipped to accept Maestro.”
“I’ve never heard such idioticy, well then take this.”  She pulled a wad of American Dollars out of her handbag.
The server took the currency but definitely had a worried expression.  Again to no avail, we tried to restore Auntie B’s lost good humour.  The night then took a turn for the worst when the poor server returned and announced that unfortunately they were not able to accept the American dollars, they were a small establishment and given that it was a Saturday night could not presume the correct exchange rate. 

Petite and frightening Auntie rose from her chair, puffing out her chest, eyes flashing daggers, again she shrieked, “What UTTER Bullshit!  What kind of a Dim Whit do you think I am?”  She howled.  Quickly my sisters began gathering purses, coats, canes and escorted Auntie to the door, while my very patient brother-in-law apologized profusely and hurried away with the server to pay the bill. 
“A plague on this house!”  She cried before we managed to push her out the front door.  By this time, understandably all the patrons were frozen in mid meal gawking with horrid fascination. 
My mother yelled back, “I’m not going anywhere with you any longer, what drama you create.”
“I haven’t finished my dinner.”  Said G, “Why are we leaving?”

My older sister managed to hail a cab, G and my mother quickly got in, but Auntie B raised her cane towards the dark night and waved it purposely, shouting, “Come on Thunder, Lightning strike!”

“What are you doing?”  My Younger sister said looking panic stricken. “This is my favourite restaurant!  Are you putting a curse on it?  Oh my God, she putting a curse on my favourite restaurant!”
“Stop it Auntie B, get in the taxi.”  My Older sister practically picked her up and shoved her into the back of the cab with a very apprehensive driver wondering who the hell he’d picked up as she yelled out the window, “FIRE sonny boy, strike with Fire and Flash.”  The cabbie then sped off.

We three sisters stood there staring after them and turned simultaneously towards the bistro window, every single customer was open mouthed wondering what kind of mad insane people we were.

“We’ll never be able to come to this restaurant again.”  My wee sister almost was in tears as her husband joined us, it was then together that we had a case of hysterics and hurried off down the road.  Normally you would think the story could end here but as we crossed the streetcar tracks and turned onto my sister’s road, a white haired man literally jumped out from behind a bush.  “Did you see that?”  he exclaimed with a wild look in his eye.  “What?”  I asked.

“The Flash, it was coming from down there.”  And he pointed towards the Bistro.  “I have to go and see the Fire.”  As he hurried off, we stopped laughing feeling perplexed by the entire episode, but promptly went home for a night of music and much wine, hoping that the Restaurant would survive the night.
If you happen to be acquainted with my Auntie B, I would greatly appreciate her not knowing about this post, for the Bistro is a solid structure of bricks and mortar and I am only flesh and bone and maybe a wee bit vulnerable to a mighty Scottish curse.  And although she occasionally slips into LaLa Land, I do love her.  My sister did return to her favourite restaurant with trepidation, worried that not enough time had lapsed and that someone would remember that night.  She was relieved that no one seemed to recognize her, although she did wear dark glasses and a large hat.  Happy New Year Everyone!

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