The Burnett's Red Lobster Invasion
One year we all decided to take my grandmother, Mema, out to Red Lobster for her birthday. She was pushing 80 years old, suffering from full-blown Alzheimer's Disease, and even before her illness she was never a big fan of seafood. But to our family it made perfect sense to take her to Red Lobster for a festive night of crab cracking with her daughter, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Why stay at home and have a quiet birthday amongst the few people and suroundings that you recognize, when you can be taken out in public to sit with the loudest family that God ever put on this Earth and eat food that you don't like? I suppose that most old people with memory problems enjoy lots of confusion and bickering. Anyway, it was my Aunt Evelyn's decision and we all went along with it. Of course, Aunt Evelyn didn't think to make reservations in advance, so getting a table for 20 wasn't the easiest thing to do on a Friday night. Eventually we were seated and the waitress asked if we were ready to order. It was then that we realized that our cousin, Tommy, hadn't arrived yet. Tommy was famous for being late-- every family get together, every holiday, every occasion. We could never start a dinner, because we had to wait for Tommy. This was to be no exception. Aunt Everlyn told the server that we were waiting on one more person. About an hour later, Tommy arrived and we were allowed to order. Mema decided that she would eat a hamburger, which infuriated her daughter, Aunt Evelyn. "No one orders hamburgers at Red Lobster", she said. In hindsight, I guess people probably do order hamburgers there, otherwise why would they keep them on the menu after all of these years? In one of her moments of clarity, Mema relented and ordered a shrimp cocktail and mentioned that she'd just go by McDonald's and get a hamburger on the way home and give the shrimp to one of her cats (although, she hadn't owned a cat in over 15 years).
After we finished eating, it was time for presents. Most of her presents were nice-- pajamas, robes, slippers, etc. Things she could use and enjoy. Between presents, Mema put her uneaten shrimp in her napkin and slipped it into her purse. Then Tommy gave her his present-- not a present really, just a card. She opened the card and tried to read it, but couldn't-- in big letters it said "Feliz Cumpleano" (happy birthday, in Spanish). The whole card was written in Spanish with a handwritten note that said "Buy yourself something nice. Love, Tommy". He had enclosed a $1 bill. Tommy and his side of the family just hooted and hollered- Tommy was the funniest thing since Jerry Lewis, to them. Mema thanked Tommy for the gift, folded it and put it in her pocket. She probably intended to use the dollar at McDonald's on the way home from her birthday dinner.