As so often (all right, as always, the word would be always) happens these days, my schedule recently had a conflict. It was time for the annual board of directors meeting for a professional association of which I am ... you guessed it ... on the board of directors. AND, it was time for a summer visit from my darling niece.
For the past few years, we've had the meeting in Boston at the Harvard Club (that's the "Hah-vahd Club" to you and me). And, for the past few years, one of my esteemed colleagues has hosted a small private party of like-minded middle-aged (but fabulous) women the evening before. We check into the club, sip signature cocktails in the bar, go out for a lovely dinner, stay overnight in one of the club's historic guest suites, enjoy a delightful breakfast in the dining room and head to our meeting feeling oh-so-to-the-manor-born. It's always a wonderful time and a much-needed break from work and family and suburban life.
Not this year.
Of course, I'm not complaining about my young visitor. We have our beloved traditions too, and I always marvel at how quickly she's growing up — yet how willing she still is to play with dolls together and do art projects and snuggle. This time around, we dug out my now teenage daughter's old collection of American Girl movies (Samantha and Felicity and Molly, oh my!). It was a warm and wonderful trip down DVD memory lane.
So, it was with mixed emotions that I declined an invitation to join the other women the evening before the meeting. They went on without me, enjoying dinner at the Capitol Grill in the Back Bay.
I went to Friendly's.
They started off with a Pear Martini and succulent Shrimp Cocktail, Pan-Fried Calamari with Hot Cherry Peppers, or Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella with Vine Ripe Tomatoes.
I started off with ... well ... tap water. It was tap water. But there was ice. And a straw.
They savored Bone-In Kona Crusted Dry Aged Sirloin with Shallot Butter or Chilean Sea Bass with Heirloom Tomatoes and Saffron Tomato Broth.
I went for the Asian Chicken Salad (the menu promised it would be "fresh, zesty and delicious"). Sesame ginger dressing on the side, please.
And for dessert? My friends probably shared Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake or the Classic Crème Brûlée.
I was too full for dessert, but I did have the pleasure of watching my daughter devour three-scoops of cookies and cream, while my niece tackled the infamous Monster Mash Sundae. Mint chocolate chip ice cream, cherry nose, M&M eyes and Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ears.
Did my friends at the Capitol Grill have peanut butter cup ears? I sincerely doubt it.
Was it fun? Okay, yes. Was I surrounded by young women I cherish and admire? Yes. Was it how I pictured my glamorous grownup life? No.
An elegant evening in Boston? Absolutely. Friendly's on Route 114? No, no. No.
But, did I make the right choice? Of course.
There's a reason Friendly's calls it a "Happy Ending Sundae."
(Oh, and the Capitol Grill will still be there next year.)
If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at www.lovinthealien.com.