Tonight Luke and I took my dad to dinner to celebrate his 70th birthday. My brothers and I are contributing to his overseas trip to Vienna, where he will visit Freud’s home (my dad is a psychiatrist, so this is really cool stuff!), and Budapest, where he will be guided around the cities by a friend who lives there. His actual birthday is on the Ides of March — but this was the best we could do.
It was a perfectly lovely dinner. He commented on our wedding web site, which included a joke about how I nixed Luke’s plans for a co-ed naked volleyball wedding. I told him that one of my brothers was concerned that that joke would bother Mom. (When we asked her, though, she said of course she recognized it was a joke.) Then I had wondered whether it would bother my dad. He said, “It’s a joke. If it weren’t a joke and you were actually going to have a naked wedding, then I would have a problem!”
Made me realize that sometimes we overestimate our parents’ sensitivity and conservatism, and we underestimate their reason and hipness. After all, my dad does go to work every day in New York City. He’s got to be somewhat hip to the world around him.
Our dinner was delicious — and helped by the incredibly attentive service at Red Cat and the complimentary dessert of risotto fritters with wild blueberries and vanilla ice cream (served to us because the entree my dad had ordered was missing an ingredient, sea beans, that was mentioned on the menu and that I was eager to taste. Turned out the kitchen had run out but forgot to tell the servers, and our server Christine felt bad. She more than made up for it! Yum!). But the best part was after dinner.
Dad drove us to Whole Foods, where Luke and I planned to do our weekly grocery shopping. I realized that my dad has probably never been to a Whole Foods and might like the experience. He was amazed. We pointed out how to spot the organic (yellow) from the conventional (purple) produce. We bought sanguinella, or blood oranges, because he had never had them and they were part of our other dessert tonight, the one we actually ordered (napoleon of lemongrass cream and blood oranges with a coconut/lemon ice cream). And I enticed him to make fresh almond butter using Whole Foods Chelsea’s brand-new nut-butter-making machines!
We lost him several times while we were shopping. At one point, I asked Luke where he was and he smiled, “He’s in the olives.” It was really fun to see him be totally curious and impressed by our supermarket.
I have to admit, harking back to the overestimate/underestimate-our-parents’ thing, that I was a little nervous watching him check out. I was afraid he would pull a George H.W. Bush and remark about the scanner or something. But no, he pulled out his credit card like a pro and swiped it as soon as the cashier told him what his total was! I beamed with pride. My dad, he’s living in the 21st century!