I usually visit my mother in New York in May, around her birthday. This year was no exception. However, this year my wife Cheryl, my daughter Rebecca and my granddaughter Violet came along. We usually just hang out in my mother’s apartment, but we always go out to my mother’s favorite restaurant Blue Bay. Blue Bay is not the best restaurant in the world, but it is the only place nearby where I can order one of my favorite dishes – broiled flounder.
My mother decided to stay at the apartment, so it would just be me, my wife, my daughter and my granddaughter going out that night. My wife said, “Let’s go to Lieberman’s Deli. I would really like to get a corned beef sandwich.” “Yeah, I would like to eat at Lieberman’s too. The matzoh ball soup is delicious,” my daughter chimed in. “No way,” I responded, “I want to go to Blue Bay and get broiled flounder.” Violet was silent. So off we went to Blue Bay.
The waiter delivered the menus, and there it was in bold letters, “BROILED FLOUNDER”. I was salivating already. I ordered first, “I’ll take broiled flounder.” Everyone else ordered and the waiter went to the kitchen. I was primed for my favorite meal, and all was well in the world. The waiter returned a minute later and said, “We are out of flounder.” My heart sank as did my appetite. “That’s what you get for only thinking of yourself,” my wife uttered. Then Violet spoke up, “Why does grandpa only think of himself, grandma?”
There I was – speechless – caught in the net of my own folly. The only flounder than got broiled that night was me. I don’t know if I have learned my lesson or not, but I know that the next time I come to New York with this group I will not be eating broiled flounder.
My redemption came very quickly however. We attended a family event 30 miles outside of the City the following day, and we stopped at a diner for lunch where my wife got her corned beef sandwich, my daughter got her matzoh ball soup, and I got my flounder. But the flounder episode did not end there.
The word “flounder” has taken on a new meaning in our family. For example, when we returned from our trip and loaded our luggage into our car at the airport, I left barely enough room for my daughter to fit her carry-on luggage in the trunk. When she got into the car she said, “Dad ‘floundered’ again.” And indeed, I did! To make amends (not flounder) I put on Chill, her favorite XM station, rather than Watercolors, my favorite XM station.
The truth is there are many opportunities to ‘flounder’ or ‘not flounder’ every day in our interactions with others. When you’re not around other people, it’s easy to not be a flounder. Being around other people can bring out the fish in us – the selfish.
Michael Natt is a personal trainer in Eden Prairie, MN.