Monday, October 15, 2007

Rediscovering Denny's

Traveling with children is not cheap. Our trip this past week was a testament to overpriced and oversized children's meals. Portions that no toddler could, or even should, eat. Grilled cheese sandwiches the size of a lunch box. Bowls of macaroni and cheese you could bob for apples in. I suppose as our kids get older, these menu items will be more appropriate, but at one and two and a half--it is a waste of food and money.

We had intended to revisit a cafe in Santa Cruz that we dined at last year. And like the morons we are, we had not bothered to bring directions or even the name of the place. We assumed that we would find it as easily as last time. Yeah. Hungry and road-weary, we succumbed to the tourist spirit and stopped at a place I had not set foot in since prepubescence. Denny's.

What a phenomenal rediscovery this was! Denny's was by far and away the best time we had at lunch the entire trip. We sat down, and I expected the crayons and kids menus. But then Heidi, our kick-ass, groovy waitress plunked down two extra, colorful sheets of cardboard. My sweet, yet culturally ignorant foreign-born husband was like what the fuck is that? It only took me a second before the memories came rushing back...masks!! They still have the masks! Those flimsy, poke-your-fingers-through-random-
holes masks that you wear during lunch and fight over in the car on the way home. No freaking way!!!

Of course our kids are too young to wear them for any length of time, but we sure had a fun time trying to get them put together.

And as if that were not enough, the kids drinks came in a souvenir rocket ship cup. It was seriously the coolest thing ever. Definitely worth the extra dollar. Hell, I wanted one. One of their favorite stories at bedtime is about an alien and a rocket ship. It was like the Gods of the Milky Way had smiled upon my family. Their food came fast, was an actual child-sized portion, and cost what a child's meal ought to. I swear I would start my kids on a weekly trip to Denny's if we had one in the area.

We get into such cynical places sometimes as adults. I often see the other moms around me making snide remarks about restaurants like these. Maybe their parents only took them to chic restaurants where there were no crayons, only crepes and bisque and Would you like some horseradish creme fraiche with your salmon, madame?

Fine with me. My kids are going to wear the goofy masks. They are going to order things with stupid names like Galactic Grilled Cheese Sandwich. We are going to ask the waitress to take our picture and make silly faces and act like tourists when we are on vacation. My kids will grow up knowing how to use a shrimp fork. And they will grow up knowing how to poke that cardboard circle out of the mask with just the right amount of force to make it fly across the table and hit their sibling in the arm.

Little Man with his rocket ship

Little Bird with her rocket ship


Blue Momma said...

Please tell me you got me a rocket ship?!? Cause now I want one. Guess we'll find a Denny's. Surely they have one around here. Don't they have them everywhere?

Though the last time I ate at one? In Canada.

Blue Momma said...

Our nearest Denny's is 68 miles away. Guess the rocket ship cup will have to wait for the next road trip.

And I already showed Punkin the pic. Damn.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

No, I didn't get one for myself. Hubbie was convinced we only needed ONE. Um, no. With two kids you need two cups. I will not listen to THAT throw down if I can help it.

The cups come in blue, yellow and red. I just may have to get a red one for myself next time we go. Sorry to hear that you Denny's is so far away. Road trip, perhaps?

Thea said...

I can't even tell you the last time I was in a Denny's...but those cups just might make the 7 hour road trip to the in-laws a little more bearable!

Good find!

Andrea said...

I love Denny's! We rediscoverd Denny's when we moved from Chicago to Lansing, MI and lived in a hotel for 3 weeks. Denny's was right across the street, so we ate there daily. No Denny's here though in rural MN. :( Maybe a road trip is in order.

Patois said...

We've shied away from Denny's for years and years. I think the last time we set foot in one was when my eldest was under 2. But rocket ships? I am so going there. Oh, and bringing the kids, too, naturally.

Nearly Headless Nic said...

You know, I used to LOVE Denny's when we lived in South Florida! The Princess would love it...I want a rocket cup too! Wow...and you're so sentimental like I am, though I'm not sure my mother was sobbing into her latte...maybe her can of Tab LOL

willow said...

I miss Denny's. I don't think we have any here. It was a good place to get decent food cheap.

I want a rocket ship. :-|

I loved your story, and your point about people turning their nose up at places like Denny's. Why do some people insist on taking all the fun out of life?