Recently we were back in my home town of Metuchen, NJ, to visit a celebrate a 100th birthday for Florence, a friend’s mother from just down the street where I grew up most of my teen years.  Flo (as she is better known) was absolutely amazing in her recollection and story telling of her many years of family life there in the “radio section” of that small town.  (called that because back in the 40’s those homes were sold with an incentive of getting a free radio with your new home – pretty interesting to imagine that being an incentive to buy, huh?)

Florence at 100

Florence celebrating 100 years

So here we were, later celebrating Joyce’s mother’s 100th birthday with this dinner together since she wasn’t able to join us in person (she was busy entertaining well wishers visiting her at home for that remarkable 100th milestone!).

Two couples who are “soul mate” friends with Ray and I (and Joyce) going back over 55 years now, still hanging out regularly, enjoying life as only true friends do.  It was a nice Perkin’s Pancake restaurant (at least that’s what we knew them as, but I think they are now just “Perkins Family Restaurant” or something like that.)  We each had ordered what we thought would be a tasty dinner and I had opted for a seafood trio that featured scallops and shrimp and I forget a third, my favorites.  In digging into my plate I found my fork couldn’t puncture the scallops!  They were like rubber.  Even the knife didn’t dent them.  Usually I’m pretty easy going but at this price and my favorite food, I called gently over to the waitress, a pretty young girl in her late teens.  I quietly explained my problem, that the scallops were like rubber, unable to be even pierced with a fork or knife.  She listened and then responded with something that will forever remain in our decades of memorable moments shared together, “Would you like a sharper knife?”

I (and collectively, “we”) couldn’t believe our ears.  She was absolutely serious in offering us this solution.  It was only with our senior control that we didn’t burst out right there with her in laughter.  I quietly and gently said, “No, I don’t think that will help.  Could you maybe take this back to the kitchen and substitute some more shrimp in their place?”  No, I didn’t want a new order of the scallops either.  She left to talk to the kitchen.  We exchanged looks of disbelief and then laughed together, repeatedly saying over and over again her words, “Would you like a sharper knife!?” in hilarious disbelief.

That phrase has now been added to our wonderfully shared memories together, used at moments of similar ridiculous service moments, bringing tears of laughter to our eyes in the recollection/retelling.

Postscript: In paying for the check at the register to the hostess/manager there, I recounted the experience, hoping that others wouldn’t get similar “rubberized scallops” to which she said, “Yes, we had earlier complaints but hoped they had just been overcooked by the kitchen.  I’ll have to talk to them about it.”  I confess to you here that I hadn’t been to a Perkin’s in a very long time, but given that combination of stupidity, that may have been our last visit ever.  Some word of advice.  If you happen to be on route 18 heading North in East Brunswick, NJ, and see that Perkin’s Restaurant, either don’t stop or if you do, don’t order the scallops, or if you do, ask for that “sharper knife” in advance (BIG smile!)