When Sharon and I were girls, there was nothing more exciting than going to lunch with Dad. It didn’t happen too often, but when it did, it was special. Dad always took me to a place called the Hot Spot in Doylestown (that was more our place) and Sharon to a Chinese restaurant called Hong Kong Sunny’s that was owned by a parishioner.
No matter the meal, it was our time with him. Our time with Dad. Where Dad would really check in and ask us about our lives and what was going on. It was so special. I still remember how important I felt that my Dad, an adult, cared to spend two uninterrupted hours with me. Looking back on it, I’m sure it was a lot of boring elementary and high school talk about clicks, girls, “stupid” teachers who didn’t understand. But Dad sat there and nodded his head in understanding, offering sage advice. I felt like I was an adult sitting across from him and telling him my problems.
After high school I went to college, then I moved to England for many years and then a stint in Africa. There weren’t many lunch dates. I’ve been back for over a year, but now we live in New York. I can’t complain – I see Mom and Dad a lot. At least once every two weeks if not more, but it’s still rare that I get one-on-one with Dad. I miss The Hot Spot.
But this past weekend Mom and Dad came to New York City. Mom had an event to attend, so Dad and I had the afternoon to ourselves. For the first time in a while, Dad and I got to spend some quality time together. We went for a walk around the reservoir in Central Park and then had lunch together at Pulino’s Bar and Grill. Fifteen years later, not much had changed. I did most of the talking, he did most of the listening. And afterwards, I felt better. The only difference was that we were eating posh pizza and salads at Pulino’s, not Chicken Parm Grinders from The Hot Spot. Oh, and we were able to split a beer.
I don’t know how I will be as a parent some day, but I know one thing: when I have children, I will make it a priority every so often to take each one out for lunch. For a kid, it doesn’t get much better.