A date with my best girl

I took Anna out to dinner tonight. It was a combination birthday dinner and reward for memorizing her multiplication tables up through twelve. A few weeks ago I asked her where she wanted to go. I had assumed she’d want Chinese or Mexican or something. Nope.

“I want to go someplace fancy,” she said.

“Fancy? Like what grownups would consider fancy?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “Maybe a steak place. I want steak.”

So I decided to take her to Ocean Club. She may be turning nine, but she’s a very mature nine.

Our evening started with drinks. I had a Cabernet, she had a Shirley Temple:

Next came a “birthday candle,” which was dry ice in a martini shaker:
Cherry first:
I let Anna choose the appetizer. Sadly, she was unwilling to try oysters. But the Aged Wisconsin Cheddar Fondue was a hit. She ate the salami and crostini, I ate the broccoli and carrots:
Anna likes steak, but she’s only ever had it cooked by her grandfather or me, and we just give it to her without much fuss. I prepped her about how one orders steak beforehand, including the part about how what most of us consider medium rare at home is closer to medium at a steak house.  When the waiter asked for her order, she said “petite filet, a bit above medium rare but still pink, please.” The waiter smiled at me. The gray-haired couple just behind Anna later flashed me a thumbs up. Damn straight I’m raising her right.
She did not pussyfoot around. Oh, and the fries: Parmesan truffle.
Dessert is served:
Oh yeah:
And thus ends our night on the town.
The best part of a wonderful evening: it was so damn natural. Anna wasn’t self-conscious. She wasn’t constantly asking me questions about everything. It wasn’t like some gimmicky and contrived event. We just enjoyed ourselves. We talked about all kinds of things during dinner. She told me about some stories she’s been writing. We talked about our plans for the weekend. While on one level you could tell that she was enjoying doing a grownup thing, for the most part it was as though we go out like this all the time, and it was no big deal.
By the time the night was over I heard myself thinking “I’m going to have nice dinners like this with Anna for the rest of my life.”  My little girl felt so grown up to me. It felt fantastic.
And if we can ever get Carlo to drop his “nothing fancier than Chipotle” rule, he can start joining us.
Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the national baseball writer for NBCSports.com. He writes about things other than sports at Craigcalcaterra.com. He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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