It was a funky, odd-feeling kind of day. Our normally early Texas spring was interrupted by a cold snap that brought a heavy gray overcast and an oppressive feeling that somehow limited our movement and appetites for most of the day. Nightfall was coming about two hours earlier than usual. It was dinnertime, we didn’t want to eat anything that was in our fridge, and we didn’t want to cook. Ever get that feeling?
Anyway, a deli within a short drive has great soup and Ellen and I decided to go there for a light, change-of-pace kind of dinner. Most of the time on a visit to a deli, I’m at least tempted to get a robust pastrami sandwich, but that night it just didn’t appeal to me. I wasn’t sick, but just wasn’t all that hungry, like I said.
As I began to look at the menu, “grilled cheese” popped into my head. Then I saw that grilled cheese wasn’t among the sandwich choices. When I asked if I could get a grilled cheese sandwich, I got an enthusiastic “Yessirree!” So that’s what I ordered with a bowl of soup. I almost never order a grilled cheese sandwich, but that night the idea was irresistible.
Not to belabor the point, this dinner seemed just right for my mood. Every bite of the sandwich and every spoonful of soup were just delectable. Ellen probably thought I was overreacting to a basically mundane meal, but she tolerated my bizarre enthusiasm with her normal grace and sweetness. We topped off all this happiness with a small ice cream treat. We both felt like kids on this odd night out!
Then a funny thing happened. Our tab arrived and for some reason I decided to look at it in considerable detail, maybe to lock this “feel good” meal in my memory bank. Oddly, “grilled cheese” did not appear on the check. At first I thought we had received the wrong one, but the other items in our order were correct. Then I saw “Kidwich” on the check and asked our waiter if that was their name for a grilled cheese sandwich. It was. I had inadvertently ordered off the children’s menu when I asked for a grilled cheese sandwich.
The next big surprise to me was the price of the Kidwich–$2.99. I had not bought a sandwich for such a low price in many years.
“Kidwich” triggered an unusual level of amusement and delight that is rare in my eating-out experience. The idea that I had unknowingly enjoyed an item from the children’s menu to the extreme just enlivened the whole evening for me.
Ellen seemed similarly cheered by her meal, a hearty bowl of soup. Night had fallen. It was still cold and damp by our springtime standards, but somehow on the way home Ellen and I were chatting with a new level of energy that had escaped us earlier in the day.
My mother used to make grilled cheese sandwiches when I was a kid—on white bread with Velveeta cheese. I thought of her and those sandwiches on Mother’s Day. I remember grilled cheese sandwiches served in the school cafeteria. In my adult life, I had not previously associated a grilled cheese sandwich with my childhood, but seeing “Kidwich” on our check at the deli reminded me of those grilled cheese sandwiches from my early years.
Grilled cheese sandwich. Kidwich. For the rest of my life, I most likely will associate grilled cheese sandwiches with my childhood. I now know what to do when I want to feel like I’m still a kid.