had a pleasant evening out to eat with the gang tonight, which is a rarity for us, with the kids being as rambunctious as they are at this point, with the girls being 5 years old and the boys being 3. We went out to Maxie's Southern Comfort
, as a follow-up to a conversation over dinner last week at the Lloyds', where Barnes was being instructed on the eastern North Carolina version of barbecue, the vinegar-based sort, which Maxie's follows. Barnes ended up not being able to attend, with preparing for a big Graduate Admissions and Financial Aid Committee meeting tomorrow, but that didn't stop us from setting out. Renée was very oddly worked up to see me, insisting on holding my hand as we walked into the restaurant, and making sure that I sat next to her. While I was talking with Donna and Mike at one point while we were waiting for our main courses, Renée all of a sudden sort of lunged over into me, with Donna asking her in surprise what
she was doing, as she sort of squirmed into my armpit. "Snuggling with Uncle Mike!" "Ah." I said back to Mom and Dad in mock relief, "That's better. I was afraid for a second she was trying to breastfeed."
The kids were all hyper and loud enough that I really didn't get much chance to interact with Dan and Amy, who were at the far side of our long set of three tables put together. I did instruct them, however, to take this rare night out with everyone as a sort of trial run and further evidence in our ongoing debate about whether or not to bring the kids along for a summer villa rental in Tuscany some time in the next few years. Mike and Donna have long since opined that that would be a great opportunity for the grandparents to enjoy quality time with the kids, while Dan and Amy have been on the fence. So that got a good laugh. My hanger steak special was alright, better with the chutney it came with than by itself, as I didn't think the marinade was terribly distinctive. The corn and shrimp cowder I had beforehand was probably a more adventurous taste for the evening for me.