The Humor and Life, in Particular Web site
author:  Margie Culbertson

April/May 2004 Humor Writing Contest Winner

Best Short Humor

The $8 Lunch


Ken Bresnan

It was a quite late Friday afternoon and I was thinking ahead of enjoyable ways to spend the weekend. As I considered options for the ensuing weekend. I decided that I could afford to take my delightful wife, Rita, out to Sunday lunch. Here in Iowa, one can get a decent lunch and points with their spouse for about eight dollars apiece or a total expenditure of sixteen bucks. I ain’t poor but neither am I magnanimous. Even after 32 years, I figure that Rita is worth sixteen bucks. I tendered the offer. She accepted. Then Saturday morning, it dawned on me that we had not seen our child number three, Shaela, the junior at the University of Northern Iowa in over a month. I asked the wife if she would like to invite the daughter out for lunch. She thought that we should and placed the call. I figured that I would be up to $24, more than the original $16 but still quite manageable. Shaela answered the phone and responded in the affirmative. She added “My two roommates are free for lunch also.” Up to forty bucks and I am feeling less confident about my once wise idea.

Rita hung up the phone and we decided on what time to leave on Sunday morning to get to Cedar Falls for lunch. Three minutes later the phone rang. Shaela had called back. “Conor is coming, isn’t he?” To the rest of the world Conor is our junior in high school. To me, at that moment he is another eight bucks. Conor decided to come. Up to $48. About an hour later, Rita mentions the fact that the oldest, Erin, is visiting number two, Mark, for the weekend in Iowa City which is about seventy miles from Cedar Falls. She had mentioned that she should be informed if we were doing anything worthwhile over the weekend. Rita called. Erin and Mark thought that it would be great family bonding if they came along. Cha ching…$60. Gratefully the rest of Saturday passed with no more commitments for Sunday.

We left after church and made it up to UNI in time for lunch. “Where shall we go?” I queried the daughter. “Texas Roadhouse,” she replied. To her Texas Roadhouse meant peanuts in barrels and warm home made rolls. To me it meant no entrees less than nine dollars. Erin and Mark arrived. They had discovered that cousin Brady was doing nothing so they brought him along. And, three riding in a small car could make it drive and ride lopsided so they invited Jason the former boyfriend of the oldest, along. To all assembled, it was a great gathering, but to me it was two more recipients of my largesse. Off to Texas Roadhouse we went. They sat us in our own wing of the restaurant. They took drink orders. I forgot to mention, three of my children and all of their assembled entourage were over 21. I was sunk. The size of the iceberg that I hit increased as the waitress intoned “Anyone want appetizers?” They ordered. I cringed.

The food came. Shaela had been looking inquisitively at the waitress and the waitress was returning furtive looks at my number three. Finally Shaela, never shy, blurted out, “Don’t I know you.” They compared majors, classes, boyfriends, and home towns for five minutes while my lunch (the last served) sat cooling on the tray behind the conversation. They didn’t come up with anything. The waitress walked away. Shaela’s eyes followed her. “A hah” she exclaimed, “I know that butt.” Apparently, they are both involved in rock climbing, and Shaela remembered looking up at that butt on some recent climbs.

Needless to say, fun was had by all. The check came. I wept. And then the crowning blow. So much for a miserly tip. This waitress could be one of the students holding the safety ropes for my much loved daughter as she rock climbed. Therefore, the tip had to go towards the far north side of fifteen percent. The meal ended. Erin and Mark along with Cousin Brady and the ex-boyfriend headed south. Mother hugged daughter and she and her roommates headed back to the apartment.Rita, Conor and I settled in for the drive home. Conor slept, Rita chatted, and I contemplated which one of the cars I was going to sell.

I am a professional salesman with four grown children who enjoys writing stories. Originally my stories were inspired by my children growing up, but then they did and moved away. Often my inspiration comes from my wife, but daily life always seems to present new ideas and concepts

2008 Update from Margie: I like to add notes to my author's pages from time to time and I noticed that Krenan has just published a story on Garrison Keilor's Prairie Home Companion's site. Click here to go to First Person .

©Ken Bresnan

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