“‘C’est la vie’, Say The Old Folks, It Goes To Show You Never Can Tell”


We really hadn’t envisioned a cozy candlelight dinner for two.  It was a special occasion, but why go overboard?  Besides that, it doesn’t get dark until way past our dinnertime. A dinner by candlelight wasn’t going to work.  Yesterday, the Honorary General and I celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary. We wanted to have dinner in a nice restaurant where we could leisurely take our time and enjoy the evening.  In the right setting, we might decide to dine outside. The weather was comfortable.

The Honorary General recommended Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood.   The ambiance and setting of that restaurant could easily transport one in their imagination to the Tuscany countryside in Italy. The restaurant is located on the grounds of The Mandola Estate and Vineyard. I actually took off work early in order for us to have plenty of time.

When I arrived at home, Treva asked if I thought we should telephone for reservations.  We’ve been married a long time. I know her well enough to know that what I think is important, but it doesn’t always take precedence over what she thinks.  However, instead of suggesting it was her call (pardon the pun), I played the hand I was dealt and simply said, “It is Monday night.  Trust me, there won’t be that many people at the restaurant”.

I had no idea at the time how prophetic my words would become. Wasn’t it Jesus who said, “A prophet has no honor in his own country?” Trust me, Jesus was right. True to my word, when we turned into the elaborate gateway of the Mandola Estate and Vineyard we didn’t find ourselves in the midst of a traffic jam.  Actually, as we approached the restaurant, it was almost with a sense of disbelief.  There was not one single car in the parking lot.

Apparently the Honorary General was shocked.  I’m not making this up. She asked, “Do you think they are closed on Mondays?”  I thought, but wisely refrained from saying: “Bill Engvall needs to add a stanza to his song, ‘Here’s Your Sign”’.

If you’ve not heard the song before, the lyrics are saturated with both humor and truth. (How’s that for subtly saying there are some stupid people in the word?”)  I will provide you a tangible example.  One stanza states:

“It’s like before my wife and I moved from Texas to California our house was full of boxes and there was a U-Haul truck in our driveway”.

“My friend comes over and says, “Hey, You moving?”


“We just pack our stuff up once or twice a week. Just to see how many boxes it takes.”

“Here’s your sign.”

With the wisdom of Solomon, I voluntary opted to take a vow of silence and refrain from attempting to be funny.  However, I did ask, “Do you have a “Plan B” in mind?  She answered, “We’ve got something at home to eat.  Let’s just go home”.

This is the same lady who said to me two hours earlier, “I haven’t accomplished anything today.  I feel like an infant. All I do is eat, sleep and go to the bathroom.”  Have you every heard a more profound statement?  She doesn’t do well when her eyes are not focused and she can’t see clearly.   I don’t know who’ll be more pleased when her visual acuity becomes more pronounced.  She’s obviously depressed, but denies it and I’m becoming increasingly concerned that “this doesn’t seem like a typical recovery from cataract surgery.”

I decided to “mind my Ps and Qs” and opted not to respond to the ball she had lobbed my direction.  It was all I could do not to suggest: “If infants went to the bathroom, the worst part of parenting would be over”.

Have you ever stopped to consider what the expression, “Mind your Ps and Qs” really means?  It carries with the connotation of “mind your manners” or “be on your best behavior”.  Interestingly, there are any number of suggested origin’s related to the saying. 

Of the list I reviewed, one of the most interesting comes from English pubs and taverns of the 17th century.  Bartenders would keep a watch on the alcohol consumption of the patrons; keeping an eye on the pints and quarts that were consumed.  As a reminder to bartenders not to confuse the two units, written as “p” and “q” on the tally slate.

So “Did we go home or did we go into Austin?”  We both agreed that going home made more sense. We could easily have dinner at Trattoria Lisiana tonight.  In making the decision, I did ask the Honorary General what we had at home to eat. She responded, “We could have cornbread and beans.”

Forty-seven years ago, the last thing I’d have agreed to eat was cornbread and beans.  For one thing, I didn’t like cornbread.  Secondly, it really isn’t a meal unless it has at least three courses.  I remember from my childhood that on occasion, my dad would opt to eat “cornbread and milk” at dinner.  It wasn’t because there was nothing else.  It was because he liked the taste.

Actually, in the last couple of years, I’ve discovered that I like cornbread and beans.  I’ve had the thought that I should try the cornbread with milk just to see what it tastes like.  In many respects, I’ve become my father.  Who knows, I might like the taste.

Instead of having a fancy meal for our 47th anniversary, the Honorary General and I had a very pleasant evening in our home.  When you stop to think about it, there is no place like home.  If I want to add imagination to the venue, I can imagine we shared cornbread and beans in the Tuscany countryside of Italy in the privacy of our own estate.  We, too, have a gate.  It is not nearly as picturesque and elaborate as the one at the Mandola Estate and Vineyard, but it does have a sense of country charm.  In addition, the view from our home looks very similar to the Tuscany countryside. 

Driving from the closed venue of restaurant back to our home, I thought about Chuck Berry’s song “ ‘C’est la vie” released in 1972.  The first stanza put a smile on my face:  

“It was a teenage wedding,

and the old folks wished them well

You could see that Pierre

did truly love the mademoiselle

And now the young monsieur

and madame have rung the chapel bell,

“C’est la vie”, say the old folks,

it goes to show you never can tell”


All My Best!



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