Before Bean was born, Brooke and I used to go out to dinner, 4 to 5 times a week. Now, we barely go out at all. Things are different. Okay, it's the Bean that's different. She’s a giant, psychotic toddler. When we first brought her home, she was so tiny that we were able to bring her with us to any restaurant in town. She'd nap and we'd chow down. Her first week on Earth she was out for sushi and Patsy's brick oven pizza. She was a regular New York foodie. But now that she's reached her terrible (22 month), twos, she's a force to be reckoned with. Sure, she's cute as hell, and says, "Da, da, da," but she's wild. She doesn't have patience to sit anywhere too long and she has to touch everything on the table. Forks, glasses, knives. But that's not the only reason we don't take her out that much. It's expensive as hell and the food on the kid's menu is garbage. But then one day we had been strolling Bean around the neighborhood looking for a place to eat and we noticed an empty sports bar. Brother's Jimmy's. Never would I have imagined that a drunken backward baseball cap-wearing establishment would be best suited for cute diaper-wearing patrons. But as soon as we strolled Bean in, she was greeted like a queen. She had her choice of balloon, they gave her a wooden pig stuffed with Crayola crayons and a cool placemat to draw and droll all over.
Brother Jimmy's was awesome. The kid's menu was amazing. She got real chicken with string beans or candied yams and a large side of pickles. Then for dessert, she got an ice cream sundae with whipped cream and a strawberry on top. And to top it off, it was free. Free. The sign should've read: Bean eats free. Not to mention, the Bean could throw food wherever she wanted. The staff didn't seem to care. They were used to it. When Bean dropped a bottle of milk and it spilled all over the place, they were there in a second with two mops and the milk was gone, like it never happened. To the Brother Jimmy's crew, a toddler was to be treated no differently than a drunk fat schlub puking on the walls at Monday Night Football. Fortunately nobody had to escort Bean outside. But when she threw an ice cup across the room, she a got a warning. The cute blonde waitress said, “I’m watching you, blue eyes.” Brooke and I have taken Bean there so many times. It's our family place. But a few weeks ago, I took my little girl there and it became ours.
As I strolled her in, I instantly became aware that there was some March madness going on. I didn't care. I was there to have lunch with my little one and that was that. I just happened to be surrounded by guys with beer guts in suits drinking pitchers of Budlight, devouring buckets of saucy ribs, kidding themselves that they're trying to lose weight by ordering side salads. I must admit I felt a little weird, self-conscious, cutting my daughters string beans and keeping my hand under her chin to catch the burger pieces from falling on the floor. But watching Bean rub ketchup on her nose and putting napkin hats on her sticky hair head was priceless. These days going out to dinner is a whole different thing. I may not be able enjoy a meal the way I used to, but man, I savor watching the Bean be happy. When she took her first bite of a humbuga for the first time was one of my most satisfying meals. Watermelon and pizza was great firsts too. But the burping and farting is where the real daddy daughter bonding begins.