‘Lunchtime’ means different things to different people and the way people spend their lunchtime can give you a sneak peek into their lives. For some, it’s nothing more than a term marking the end of the morning and the start of the afternoon, while for others lunch is a family affair with a cooked meal around a table. If I’m in a restaurant or cafe during lunchtime, I’m always curious to see how people react towards their meals. Some people’s faces will light up with contagious delight when their food arrives, and they’ll savour and enjoy each mouthful. Others will barely notice the sandwich they’re wolfing down while simultaneously working on their laptops. A couple of weeks ago I was privileged enough to witness the most adorable family-lunch in a cafe.
A dad and his four children, aged between two and ten years old (if I had to guess), entered the cafe and sat at a table in the middle of the seating area. A waitress swiftly came and took their order. All four of the children ordered cake! The dad, very sensibly, ordered a stew. The children were bundles of pent up energy, chattering away, waiting in anticipation for their cake to arrive.
Luckily for them, it wasn’t long before the waitress returned with a tray loaded with cake (and stew), happy faces smiling up at her. A few seconds of silence passed as the children sampled their cake, making sure it was living up to their expectations. Satisfied that it was everything they had hoped it would be, the eldest three resumed their conversation and games. The youngest child sat on his father’s lap, eating with a look of utter concentration on his face. The dad ate his stew in large mouthfuls, pausing every now and then to chew and play air-drums to The Killers album playing in the background.
The three boys soon abandoned their lunch, too absorbed in their own make-believe world. The girl, not wanting to be left out, participated in the game but kept running back to the table to gobble large mouthfuls of cake. Before long she finished the whole slice, and I must admit, I was impressed with her determination and appetite-to-size-ratio. She then disappeared around the corner for a while before joining her brothers again.
The children played calmly until the waitress arrived at the table with another slice of cake. The whole family fell silent, watching her. The waitress smiled uncertainly and placed the cake in front of the girl who quickly took her seat and grabbed her fork. A few awkward moments passed as her brothers eyed her with envy and disbelief. The dad was the first to recover and quickly took charge of the situation by announcing that this slice of cake was meant to be shared between the whole table… once the boys had finished their cake, of course. The boys quickly took their seats and started munching their cake with renewed enthusiasm. The girl took a few bites of her cake, but her appetite was clearly dwindling. All the while the eldest brother sat with his eyes fixed on his sister’s second slice of cake. I should add that he still had a sizable piece of cake left on his own plate.
One of the younger brothers soon lost interest again and fished a lemon slice from the water jug on the table. With a bold announcement, he put the lemon in his mouth and kept it there, his eyes squeezed shut, much to the delight of his siblings. They counted down the seconds he held the lemon in his mouth before he spat it out in a dramatic gesture. The water jug was passed around and the other kids each took a slice of lemon, trying to beat their brother’s record. Soon they were erupting with giggles and shouts, the large chunks of cake and icing forgotten on their plates. One of the boys handed their youngest brother a slice of lemon, saying loudly that he should try this ‘orange’. The other kids laughed mischievously, but the dad stepped in, took the lemon from the hesitant little brother, and said it’s his turn to try. The children watched anxiously as their dad popped the lemon slice into his mouth. He chewed on it a few times before swallowing the whole thing! The children gasped and clapped their hands in surprise, clearly impressed by their father’s bravery. The eldest boy (who still had some of his own cake left) seized the opportunity and swiftly snatched a chunk of his sister’s cake. He stuffed it into his mouth and sat back with a satisfied smile, savouring the stolen morsel.
The excitement over, the dad got a takeaway box and the leftover cake was scraped inside. I couldn’t help but wonder how that last piece of cake would be split in the end. The family left the cafe in a bustle of energy and excitement. Clearly, for these kids, lunch with dad was a treat! Not only did they have cake for lunch, but their dad was a hero who’s able to swallow a whole slice of lemon… 😉
I hope you can find a few minutes of joy during your lunchtime, whether it’s a quick coffee and cigarette on the office balcony or a homemade health bar at the gym.