A Summer Evening, in two takes

As you may know, San Francisco is sweating through an unusual heat wave this week. Even here in the fog belt, the temperatures are in the 90s. I love it — I get to wear the sun dresses I buy (against my better judgment) each year and which then hang in my closet, mocking me. Don’t I know by now that I only get to wear sun dresses once or twice a year? But when the weather’s like this, I revel in it: we ride bikes after dinner; we barbecue on the deck; we go out without jackets and scarves.

But much as I love the heat, I know it throws us all off. Tony doesn’t really like it, the boys aren’t used to it. And when it’s this hot, even I can get a little crabby.

And so tonight was glorious and hot and we went out to dinner — but, you know, family life… it’s not always such smooth sailing. It was a good night with some bumps along the way, and on nights like this I wonder how we’ll all remember it down the line. Here are two possibilities:


I pick Ben up from t-ball, where he and his buddies sweat good-naturedly through their one hour practice, and tell him Tony and I think we’ll all go out to dinner in the neighborhood tonight.

We park the car at home and get Ben’s bike and Eli’s trike out of the garage; the boys bike happily the several blocks to the restaurant, ringing their bells and waving to passersby.

We sit at an outside table, and the boys’ food (plain pasta and roasted artichokes) comes promptly. Tony and I enjoy salads–butter lettuce with asparagus and green goddess dressing– and pizzas (mine’s topped with arugula, goat cheese, sweet peas and mint; yum!) and big glasses of cold wine.

We walk and bike home. Tony bathes the boys while I sit on the couch watching a Tivo’d episode of Nigella Lawson’s cooking show.

I pick Ben up from t-ball and say we’re planning to eat out. He asks first to eat at the local tacqueria (ok for take out, but I didn’t want to eat there), then suggests Chinese. The Chinese place is fine, but we’ve gotten take out from there too often lately, and I’m not in the mood. I tell him where we’re planning to go–the casual Cal-Italian bistro–and he grumbles and sulks all the way home.

As we pull into the driveway, I try to cheer him by suggesting maybe he and Eli could ride their bikes to the restaurant. He loves the idea. We go inside to get Eli and Tony, who mishears my plan and somehow within a minute I’m sniping at him about I don’t know what.

We get the bikes out and head to the restaurant, a 10-minute trip that restores everyone’s good mood.

At the restaurant, the waiter is harried and inattentive. He brings the boys’ food promptly (big points for that), but the rest comes in slow waves, and my salad comes sprinkled with the speck (smoked ham) that I’d asked him to leave off. By the time my speck-free salad comes back, the boys are done with their pastas, and the wine still hasn’t come. The pizzas arrive; Eli says “I’m done here!” and I take him out for a walk while the pizza cools a bit.

On the walk home, Ben’s so busy waving and ringing his bell that he runs right into me. I yell in surprised pain, Ben starts to cry. I storm off–pushing Eli’s trike harder than necessary–my foot throbbing, leaving Tony to talk to Ben. There’s still a 4″ tread mark on my calf.

When we arrive home, Ben apologizes and asks softly if he can ride up to the end of the block and back, “super-fast.” I finally soften and say sure; he and Eli race down the sidewalk.

We all go inside, Tony takes the boys up for a cool bath. I sit on the couch and watch Nigella make a fondue.


  1. Aliki2006 says:

    I’m guessing it was scenario #2?

    I heard about the terrible heat-wave…it’s enough to make any one prickly.

  2. Gail says:

    thanks for adding me to your blogroll! I heard about the heat wave, too because my husband and middle daughter are on a father/daughter trip in San Fran and up to Napa before she head off to college next year.

  3. Libby says:

    well, having written both versions you can now remember it both ways, right? But I’d rather keep #1 in the memory banks, obviously. We talk about this a lot at home since I tend to sanitize my memories while others I live with (naming no names!) do not.

  4. Elrena says:

    90 degrees?! Yuck! I can wear sundresses when it’s 70 degrees outside, thanks anyway. 🙂

    Having said that, it’s in the 50s and pouring rain here, and I have a little girl who would love to come ride tricycles with Eli.

    I hope your leg feels better soon! A very overtired boy clonked his head into my cheekbone last Sunday night, and I still have a black eye that’s netting me all sorts of interesting inquiries.

    At least scenario #2 still ended in fondue….

  5. Anonymous says:

    be thankful you don’t have to worry about scenario 3?:


  6. Anonymous says:

    trying to foil the insidious autoformatting, so paste these 3 lines into your browser’s address bar as one line…



  7. Lisa says:

    Oh, now scenario #3 would really suck! Can you imagine remembering each and every little detail of every day?!

    I prefer the sanitized version of my own life that results from a few days (sometimes hours) passing, but honestly enjoy hearing that most people (parents!) are experiencing days like mine much of the time–some good moments, some bad moments, justifiable need for wine at the end of the day.

    So, scenario #1 made me cranky until I read scenario #2! 😉