This site is kept in loving memory of Trish Reske, who passed in October of 2021.
Trish was a writer - this site captures a bit of her incredible sense of humor.
You can read Trish's full obituary here.

Eating Out with the In-Laws

My in-laws are from the old country. They grew up in Germany during World War II on a working farm, in conditions that make our tough economic times look like Mardi Gras.

Ellie and Arnold are faithful to their Spartan Lutheran childhood values of spending as little money as possible and never throwing anything away, God forbid. They perfected the art of sustainable living long before it was chic.

When they came out to Massachusetts to visit my husband Dave and I for the first time after we were married, we thought we’d treat them to a nice restaurant meal in Boston.

My father-in-law’s idea of an expensive, yet hearty meal is a large coffee, Big Mac and fries. He’s a little leery of places that don’t have pictures of the food prominently displayed on the wall.

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. She wasn’t overly fond of my cooking, since I don’t cook my meat until it turns to leather, and I don’t know how to even spell Rouladen, let alone make it.

“Where do you want to go to dinner, Mom?” my husband asked.

“Anywhere where I don’t have to unwrap my food,” she replied dryly. We made reservations at a cozy Italian restaurant in Boston’s North End.

“Italian?” my mother-in-law was dubious. “Well, I do like Chef Boyardee…”

We got to the restaurant at 5:00 pm – plenty of time to take advantage of the Early Bird specials. Arnold removed his orange Cleveland Indians knit cap, walked right past the hostess and sat down at the first table he saw.

“Dad,” Dave said, “You have to wait to be seated.”

“Wait? Why? This is a good table! Can you get me a cup of black coffee?” he yelled to the hostess in his thick German accent.

My father-in-law is not hard of hearing. He just thinks everybody else is. The waitress came back with hot coffee and menus.

“I’ll have a steak well-done and a baked potato,” Arnold said, before she could even hand out the menus.

“Arnold!” my mother-in-law hissed. “Take the menu, Arnold. Take the menu.”

“I don’t need a menu. What do I need a menu for? You must have steak?” he smiled at the waitress.

“Dad, maybe after we order our drinks, we can all order together,” Dave suggested.

Ellie shook her head and rolled her eyes. Dave and I ordered wine. Ellie ordered water. Arnold ordered more coffee. When my mother-in-law opened the menu, she turned pale and started breathing rapidly.

“Look at these prices!” she exclaimed. “For what – noodles?”

I scanned the Early Bird menu: Fettuccini Alfredo, Shrimp Scampi, Risotto… no steak in sight. Thankfully, Dave found a New York Strip on the “Americano” page at the back of the menu.

We ordered our food. Ten minutes later, my father-in-law asked, “What’s taking so long?” We got him another cup of coffee.

I gulped down my wine and ordered another. Our waitress finally came out with our food.

“This meatloaf is too salty,” stated my mother-in-law. “Too salty and pink in the middle. People die of undercooked meat every day. You’d be surprised. Thousands of people,” she confided.

I can’t remember a conversation with my mother-in-law that didn’t involve death. “Good to know, mom,” said my husband. “How’s the steak, Dad?”

“Mmm,” he mumbled. A good sign.

My mother-in-law put down her fork and knife and just sat there after a few half-hearted nibbles.

“Do you want something else, Mom?” Dave asked. “I could get the waitress, and…”

“No, no. Don’t worry about me,’ she said, as she unloaded the contents of the bread basket into a plastic bag that appeared out of her purse. “I’ll be just fine. I’d rather not eat than have a stroke and die.”

She reached for the butter pats. She eyed the sugar packet holder thoughtfully. The waitress came over. “How is everything?” she chirped.

“Great, just great!” my husband said enthusiastically. “Can we have the check?”

“Sure, coffee or dessert for anyone?”

“Coffee!” Arnold shouted. “Can you bring out the whole pot?”

“I want this wrapped up,” Ellie said to the waitress. “I’ll cook it when we get home,” she confided to me.

“Smart thinking, mom,” I said.

We left the restaurant. It was 5:45.

“Sooo, wasn’t that nice! You think?” I asked my in-laws.

“Oh yes. Very nice,” my mother-in-law agreed, carrying her concealed loaf of bread, pound of butter pats and embalmed tainted meatloaf. “Wasn’t it Arnold?”

“Sure,” Arnold said. “A steak, some potato, some coffee… what’s not to like?”

I’m so thankful my in-laws aren’t difficult like some in-laws can be.

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