Saturday, June 7, 2008

I only had a starter

Last night I went on my final girls' night out. I've avoided these since baby group - Scarlett is now 3 so that's a while back but one of the girls (from baby group) was back in town and Lemony was going so she made me join her - well she made me get my hair done and then said it would go to waste - we've had no babysitter for 6 months since our Polish angel gave birth and reality set in on the joys of childcare for her. Anyway, we got there and the one girl, well she's nearly a Grandma but insists on joining us on these nights out even though she doesn't even live in Belgium now or in fact was ever in our baby group, was as annoying as I remembered her. Last time she went round the table asking everyone who was Prime Minister - I mean, this is a country that's as divided as can be - a passport's practically required to move from the Flem side to the French side. Anyway, I sit as far away as possible from her after giving the obligatory air kiss. But oh no, someone has that bright idea of swapping after courses - I hate that idea - you've just got to start all over again on the weather, how many times a night do you get woken up, is your husband still the most important person at Proctor & Gamble/the EU/the International School/etc all over again. I always avoid the baby talk because that's the whole idea of getting out for the night I thought but someone always drags you back down to the joys of potty training Anyway, I stay in my seat and others swap and I get Grandma (who tells me she's just bought an apartment overlooking the Grand Place no less) - what's worse I also get 'pay the bill' duty shortly afterwards. So, there's 20 of us, some have left and some are muttering under their breath they didn't drink that much, only ate half a chip etc, so I just divide the bill between us and avoid all eye contact. However, I make the mistake of saying 'service charge'. Grandma (did I mention she was Scottish) tells me it's in the prices - what does that mean 'in the prices' there's no service charge and the food isn't expensive - here's 20 annoying women asking for no mayo, no oil, lightly fried, take off the cream, is this vintage, are these rolls gluten free, etc and she doesn't want me to leave a service charge for the 17 year old waiter who has patiently spoken perfect English to us all night, passing closing time too, in a very Flemish restaurant. At that point, the lady who's flown all the way from England for this big night out says 'we should leave 10%' - (that would be Euros 50). Grandma nearly chokes on her chocolate mousse, makes me recount everyone's money whilst counting alongside me but slightly out of sync (like kids do) - reminds me that the 5 Euro notes look like 20's incase I make a mistake and if I leave a tip 'we spoil it for everyone' - what on earth does that mean? I'm worn down now, Grandma wants some change so I leave 20 Euros tip. Of course the 17 year old is terrified of a group of 20 half-cut loud women so brings the change. Grandma, when she thinks I'm not looking, pockets it. I should now tell you what they thought about my big move but no-one had even heard of Dominica, and few could comprehend moving out of the metropolis of Belgium although the majority not actually liking it here they couldn't imagine being anywhere else. There's a whole wide world out there girls.........

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