As we gathered for Father’s Day with Kathy’s family, I said half-seriously that my favorite moment of the weekend was immediately after the wedding when we gathered at the Baker’s Square Pies right up the street to relax and enjoy some delicious dessert together before heading down for the reception. I wasn’t trying to pay an extravagant compliment to their French Silk Pie (which is amazing) as much as I was remembering how nice it was to just sit around that corner table and enjoy each other’s company in such relaxed fashion as we talked about the lovely wedding we had just enjoyed together.
Actually, when it comes to unexpected pleasures of the weekend, there is one that ranks even higher than French Silk Pie at Baker’s Square. That came a little earlier Saturday when we checked out of our hotel and checked into the Steak n Shake next door for lunch. As we walked in, Lorelai immediately noticed one of those machines with which you can supposedly win a stuffed animal. You pop in fifty cents and you’re given one chance to manipulate the overhead claw and drop it down to see if it will pick up one of the stuffed animals- and if it does, it automatically deposits it in a front compartment from which you can retrieve it. But that is one enormous “If” because the claw is rather ridiculously flimsy – and there’s only the remotest chance that it will catch and hold what you’re aiming for. I reminded this of Lorelai after lunch as we sat down together with the six quarters I had retrieved from my pocket- – – but her sweet optimism had me almost believing that we had a chance of success. She was earnestly hoping to win a stuffed horse (you can see it at the top of the photo – it was mostly green but with blue hooves) – and bolstered her spirits with a steady stream of self-encouragement. . . and I was so taken by her perseverance that I fished out three dollar bills from my wallet to get her a few more chances. (The machine doesn’t give change, so three dollar bills equaled three more chances.) And when the last of our attempts failed, her shoulders slumped in sad defeat – but she didn’t cry or get angry. She just spoke softly and earnestly of how badly she had wanted that horse because she already had two in her room and this one would have been her third. (The plaintiveness of her voice and facial expression nearly brought me to tears.) But she took it on the chin and accepted the disappointment pretty darn well.
Evidently our unsuccessful efforts at the machine were noticed by one of the waitresses, who also overheard Lorelai talking about it as she went to the restroom with her mom. And lo and behold, when mother and daughter emerged from the restroom, there was the waitress standing there with a stuff bear from the machine which she was giving to Lorelai. It was such a sweet moment and such a nice thing for this waitress to do. . . although Polly pointed out quite rightly that it wouldn’t have been the worst thing in the world for Lorelai to have experienced the disappointment that such games so typically deliver to their customers. But there really was something so sweet about Lorelai’s sadness and disappointment and I can understand how the waitress would have found herself compelled to do what she did. I think I would have done the very same thing, had I been in a position to do so.
Anyway, I know that for Lorelai the highlight of that visit to Steak n Shake was how she was so unexpectedly given that bear. . . but for me what I liked best was how she and I worked so hard to win her the horse fair and square. . . having a really precious Uncle/Niece moment. When I watch my wife and Lorelai, I am so envious of the effortless rapport which those two have with each other. I don’t have that same sort of natural ease with Lorelai or anyone that age- but give us a task to tackle together and somehow my inhibitions fall away almost completely. So there we were – me and Lorelai and the Claw – and one of my very very favorite Uncle moments.
pictured above: Lorelai and I trying very hard to win the bright green stuffed horse visible right above her head.