On a Sunday morning not so long ago, it was my wife's turn to sleep in, and my five-year-old son suggested he and I go out to breakfast. We pulled some clothes on and headed directly to the one establishment in the Valley where it seems okay to show up un-showered and prior to any coffee consumption: the Silver Spoon in Easthampton.
We were still working the sleep out of our limbs and minds as we settled into our favorite booth by the window—the one with the view of downtown and Mt. Tom beyond—and our drinks were served. As I sipped my mug and my boy sucked on the straw in his orange juice, we decided to shake things up a little and order something different from our usual.
I'm a fool for their Crow's Nest—poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce on a bed of homemade hash with English muffins and homefries—and my son gets a pancake with chocolate chips and side of sausage. Depending on the size ratio between the ears and head, the pancake looks like either Mickey Mouse or a teddy bear. Despite having only tried perhaps three different kinds in his short life, my son's convinced the Silver Spoon's sausage is "the best in the world."
That day, we both decided on the Silver Spoon Special: three eggs anyway we wanted, toast, home fries and a choice of meat. He pointed out that the change from the norm would likely surprise Tammy, our waitress, who has faithfully committed our preferences to memory. He was right.
Later, as I finished up what he couldn't eat of his breakfast, I decided it was time to lecture my child.
"Remember when I picked you up from day care a few days ago, and you told me we never do anything fun together?" I said. I then proceeded to walk him through a list of all the fun things we'd done since then, winding up with a dramatic flourish by proclaiming, "And what are we doing now? We're in your favorite restaurant, just having eaten your favorite meal!"
As I basked in the glow of self-satisfaction, knowing I'd delivered a kernel of potent wisdom to my son that would, no doubt, one day blossom into a shower of gratitude, I was startled by a rebuttal. Not from my son, but from the Silver Spoon's owner and head cook, Jeff Doyle, whom my son refers to as "Chef Jeff." Doyle had been making the rounds with the coffee pot and had been behind me as I'd pontificated.
"Don't listen to him," he said to my boy with a friendly snarl and patted me on the back. "He's not doing you any favors; he likes this place just as much as you do!"
Even though I'd just been revealed as the windbag of a dad I'd hoped I'd never be, I had to laugh. I also had to laugh because everyone else around me was doing so, including my son, and any other reaction would have only deepened my humiliation. But I also laughed because it was true."