My Birthday With My Jewish Parents And Howie Mandel
My parents have always made a big fuss over my birthday and it's something I've never quite gotten over. No matter what anyone does if it doesn't have the monster theme with the party hats that match the plates and cake I'm always a bit under whelmed when it comes to my birthdays. There have been many disastrous birthdays. Over the years my mother has thrown something like seven "surprise" parties for me where the only surprise was that I never ended up showing up due to one reason or another. Needless to say, surprise parties have been banned. So this year, with Michael out of town on business, my parents wanted to do something nice with just the three of us. So here's the tale of my birthday with my parents and Howie Mandel - Don't Get Me Started!
My parents told me that they were going to pick me up for this fun-filled mystery evening. As it was dinner (and my parents are Jews of a certain age) they would pick me up at 5:15pm. Now most people would think that 5:15pm means exactly that time but what you don't know is that if you're my family, it really means 4:30pm and you just drive around the neighborhood for forty-five minutes to make it seem as though you arrived at the appropriate time or option "B" arrive forty-five minutes early and listen to my father complain that you aren't ready on time (because after all, the reason for setting a time for pick up is to be there forty-five minutes early and make your son completely insane). The swell news was that they indeed chose to arrive at 5:15pm on the dot and I was waiting outside for them.
As soon as my parents' Cadillac pulled up, my father hopped out and informed me that I would be driving their car as we were going to the Strip. Now for local Vegas folk, going to the Strip is a bit like going to the dentist's office where the implements are all rusty. You would rather have your gums scraped by a rabid raccoon as opposed to be going to the Strip. The good news was that it was a Sunday. And so I began to kvetch and my mother told me that I needed to be quiet because they had a lovely evening planned (and it had all been comped). The thing about comps in Vegas is that it's not like it used to be when the mob ran this town. It's all corporations now so comps are few and far between so this was set up through a friend of a friend and it was dinner at a nice Italian restaurant and a show. The show was Howie Mandel. Now let me say that I think Howie Mandel is okay but not someone I would go out of my way (or okay, let's call it for what it is - I wouldn't pay to see him). I can watch him just fine for a fleeting few seconds on television watching him make a big deal over opening suitcases if I really want to see Howie Mandel. Having tickets for his show reminds me of years ago when my mother got another famous comp in Atlantic City. The show was supposed to be Lola Falana but when we got there it was Henny Youngman. Two very different performers to be sure and although he was no Lola Falana, he was funny...take my mother...please.
The dinner was at an Italian restaurant. But not your old family style Italian restaurant. No this was one of those new shi-shi Italian restaurants where everything has a balsamic reduction drizzle on the plate that if you didn't know better would look like the chef had a bad prostate and had been eeking something out on your plate. There's someone who brings the bread, someone else brings the water, your waiter acts as though he's selling you a car and yet at the same time he's so smooth that if he felt you up under the table you wouldn't be surprised a bit. It's a dining experience that takes forever and when the food arrived (carried by yet another person) and my father (a real meat and potatoes kind of cowboy) asked for A1 sauce for his pork chop, the server tried to hide his dismay at having to go and ask the cook for a sauce that was not drizzled on the plate originally. All in all the meal was good and we enjoyed the floor show which was a woman at a table across from us (who was poured into her gold lame jeans with floral top) and was yelling at the waiter at the top of her lungs because the chicken dish she got was not what she expected. We were delighted by this whole show even more because she stated that she was Italian, "And I know Italian recipes and dishes" and not Jewish. When you're a Jew and someone makes a scene in a restaurant you always just say a little prayer that it's not one of your tribe causing the disturbance. I think the woman ended up getting her meals comped but come on, does anyone really need to get this upset and make this big a scene? I think not but that's a blog for another day.
After dinner we only had a two hour wait for the Howie show to begin. So we walked around the casino and even indulged by playing some ½ cent slots. Yes, it's true they now have ½ penny slots. As we went into the theatre I could tell instantly that they were taking us way too far down front. The good news was that we weren't at the tables that butt up to the stage but we were still a mere eight feet away from the stage in a "booth." Because of the way we went into the booth, I was sitting in the middle between my parents. You just don't know what it's like to be forty-three and sitting in the middle of your parents waiting for a comedian to take the stage. We could not be any more your typical Jewish family - the man with his two parents looking like he's twelve. The really good news was that although both Howie and the warm-up comedian looked in our direction, they didn't involve us in their act. Thank you God for that birthday gift.
It turns out that Howie Mandel was really funny and it was a nice evening. But there is something that makes you wonder if at forty-three you should be spending your birthday this way. I don't know if I still expect the matching birthday cake and décor or if it's just a question of wanting to be with my guy on my birthday in Ixtapa or someplace exotic. Or maybe I just want to pull the covers over my head and watch old movie musicals and look back on the good, bad and ugly that has been my life thus far. Well, next year I'll do something different. But this year, it was my birthday with my parents and Howie Mandel - Don't Get Me Started!
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An acquired taste, like Tab cola, Some Like It Scott is one gay man's experiences with love, life and things that make him crazy, all done to a musical theatre soundtrack.