Hanging Out in Rockford: Dinner with Uncle Mike

It has been two years since I have had a relationship in my life. I am looking for that woman who can be in control of me. It’s not that easy to be in control of me, I am quite the in-charge person. But I love women who love to be in control. I love whatever it takes to make women behave like men in their basest form. I love broads with brass, but they are hard to find.

That is why it is so easy for strong women to wrap me around their fingers. They sense my basic weakness. They seize on it: (Or so I fancy, or so I dream). My friend wants me to read her poetry. That’s OK if I am honest, but then I am always honest. When I like it, I tell her that I do. When I am in doubt, I am just silent, and then she is somewhat sullen, but she forgives me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have had chances at involvement, but I have failed my masculine part in the play. That undoubting direction and determination eludes me in my older years. It is not a lack of passion but a lack of illusion. The situations that once would have seemed so perfect now just seem incredibly imperfect. The situations seem not to invite the question, or perhaps it just isn’t worth asking. Or perhaps the person (in question) isn’t worth the effort or the time.

Because of this, I have become quite the safe dinner partner, uncle Mike. When your problems are overwhelming, call uncle Mike. When your car stalls in the country, call him too. When your lover of recent history leaves you for his wife… uncle Mike.

The phone rings. It is my friend, the one who was in love. All the rest of us could see that it was wrong for her. Why is it we can never see ourselves clearly in any relationship? Especially when love rears its ugly head. Now it is over, now she is recovering. Time for dinner with uncle Mike. “Where should we go?” I pose. “Maria’s,” she answers. “Good,” I say, “because Joey always comes to the Rose late to eat, and I don’t reciprocate as I should.”

We drive down to Maria’s. The parking lot is full, and we have to park in the last tier. We walk to the front door. It is locked. I pull hard on it and knock a little. A woman comes to the door to ask if we have reservations. “No,” we say. “Sorry, we are closed,” she says and closes the door in our face. We walk slowly, dejectedly back toward the parking lot. Where will we go for dinner? My depressed friend is now even more depressed.

Spying the kitchen door ajar, I stick my head in. Joey is standing behind the kitchen line. “Hi,” I say. He looks up and says, “Are you staying for dinner?” “We’re trying to,” I say , “but they wouldn’t let us in.”

“Come on in,” he says, indicating the kitchen door, and then he comes over to open the door for us. My depressed friend is now my very impressed friend. We make our way to the bar to get drinks, and then the hostess seats us at a booth in the bar. It is really very cozy.

We look at the menu and order a steak, pasta and the special salad, really too much to ever eat, and then Joe complicates it by bringing us shrimp dejonghe. My friend is knocked out. She keeps saying, “This is perfect; this is just perfect.” (She had been thinking of ordering it.) Joe says, “Next time, just call.” I get his drift. The steak arrives, the porterhouse ordered by my depressed friend. It is approximately one-half of a steer. It seems to further relieve her depression. She puts the side containing the tender toward her on the pretext that I should have the larger side. I’m on to her game, and I tell her so.

Then we drive back to the Irish Rose. My depressed friend is thinking about going out still. She is thinking about meeting up with a wild friend. Sometimes we all need to blow our circuits. I discourage her. I tell her she will feel much better in the morning if she goes home. I drop her off at her car. I drop her off with half of the half of uneaten steer. I drop her off with enough pasta to feed a family for a week. I drop her off with the leftovers from dinner. I wave goodbye to her and walk through the Rose and up the stairs to my apartment. The next morning, she calls to say she is very glad she went home.

Owner of the Irish Rose (Rockford) and Irish Rose North (Rockton) restaurants, Mike Leifheit’s “Hanging Out In Rockford” reviews locally-owned restaurants, businesses and Rockford life. These columns are also available on his Web site: IrishRoseRockford.com and featured on WNTA talk radio AM 1330.

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