Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Brunch in the Mining Camp

My father has good intentions, sometimes. He had it in his head that this year he should take my mother, me, and my daughter to a Mother’s Day brunch. He’s never done this before, but since we’ll be leaving soon I figured I’d just go along with it, knowing we’ll probably never do this again.
He has zero sense of what constitutes quality. My mother – when she’s allowed to intervene – usually mediates his choices, but there have been some spectacular exceptions. His sporadic presents usually come from the gift shop of whatever casino he is spending time at. He is the pawn of salespeople.
So I knew going to brunch today would be iffy. M wanted to wear her new cotton sun dress and pigtails. She looked adorable. I put on a pair of linen pants and a simple sleeveless top and some sandals. I’ve been sick all week and I wanted to look presentable. I shouldn’t have bothered. If I’d have been wearing a football jersey and a pair of cutoffs I would have been overdressed.
It took a half hour to drive there. As it turns out, he wasn’t able to find this place in the yellow pages or the local directory he uses, so my mother suggested he look online. (hahahahahaha) While driving, these little details came out, plus the fact that a bridge friend of his had NOT recommended it but had told him where it was. Approximately. He said we had reservations for 11:30.
The drive took us past state forest land and was very pretty for several miles, then we drove by lots of modest summer homes and trailer parks. Past the mini mart and the post office and fire station, and past the feed store. Then, he found it. I was speechless. It was an old wood building, housing a bar and this restaurant. We had a little trouble finding the way in, but when we did, the door opened into a narrow dark high ceilinged room with wood tables and bench seats. Seated at three of the tables were fat older people in shorts, eating off of blue enameled camping plates. A waitress squeezed by and said to sit anywhere. (so much for those reservations)
The buffet was apparently behind a door in the back. We sat down, looking around, and the people in the room looked at us. After a while, a man with shaking hands came out with his big fist full of cutlery, and told us to help ourselves to the food and that someone could bring us juice and water. Then he said that Bloody Mary Joe was working today since it was so “busy.” I asked if that meant I could get a bloody mary and he said yes! My father ordered a bloody mary too and my mother asked for a mimosa. We all got up to fill our plates.
Ok, I used to work second jobs as a server and bartender, and I’ve done Mother’s Day brunches, so I guess you could say I have a certain set of expectations, but good god. I circled the buffet a couple times, trying to find things that looked safe and that M would eat. There were some colorless shrimp on a plate, mini muffins and sweet rolls cut in half, something in a warming pan they called eggs benedict, some overcooked bacon and dry scrambled eggs, and some sliced fruit and a warm cheesecake.
My dad eats very fast, and for once, we were all ready to go when he was. I sucked down my bloody and his (he didn’t like how “spicy” it was). The mining motif while we ate, surrounded by the descendents of those desperate men, made for a rather quiet meal. I looked at the bars on the windows and wondered what they were protecting. The guy who gave us our forks brought around a single red carnation for each “mother” – and my father remarked that he’d understood that the mother’s were going to get “flowers” – plural. He said this after being there for the whole brunch. I wonder where he gets his information.
Happy Mother’s Day!


  1. Maybe the bars were to keep people in.

    I hope the rest of your Mother's Day was better than brunch.

  2. Oh. Good. God. I don't even know what to say. I hope you salvaged the other half of the day. :/

  3. Frank: Welcome! Yes, I went for a nice hike after with my mother and daughter and then got in a good nap, so I was happy. That place will make for good stories in the future, though!

    Jessica: Thank you. It was pretty awful, but it seems to get funnier the more distance I put between it and me.
    But my sweet baby kept saying "I love you" all day - such bliss!

    Isn't it ironic that most of my life ends up being "good stories to tell around a campfire" !