It all started back in 1984. For some reason, that Thanksgiving my mom was not in the mood to cook so we decided to go out for our holiday meal. It was, at the time, a daring choice. We made reservations at the restaurant at the hot new place called The Carriage Inn. I wore a pink polo shirt and a blue cardigan and jeans and felt very preppy eating at a hotel. It is a good memory.

The meal was a huge family hit. The food was delicious, and by sheer chance, we ran into some of my parents’ good friends. We all ate together and the meal entered family legend, proving to us that eating out on holidays can be a charming choice.

Fast forward to this Christmas. My mom Dorothy, perhaps wanting to replicate the experience, made reservations at a well-known restaurant in the Kern Valley. After the traditional Christmas morning, we caravanned to the restaurant with other family members.

The drive was lovely. It was overcast and foreboding in a poetic way. We stopped at a cemetery and took pictures. We speculated on the owners of the huge houses we passed. My mom commented that she was glad I don’t get car sick as she took the curves at a brisk speed to make our reservation for 2 p.m.

When we arrived, we drove straight past the place. My mom turned the truck around and took a look. Something was wrong. A car was parked sideways blocking the entrance to the parking lot. It didn’t quite fill the space so three kids were parked on scooters, two on one side and one on the other to make sure no one entered. They didn’t look happy to see us.

Other family members were already talking to the kids when my mom got out.

“You can’t come in,” one of them told her. “The restaurant is reserved for our family.”

Like miniature guardians of hell, they tried to block her path.

My mom came back to the car and reported the situation to me. She then turned around with determination to storm the citadel.

She disappeared for a moment, then returned with the bad news after talking to the owner. It seems the kids were right. The restaurant was not open; she had been misinformed. There were no Christmas reservations for us. There was no room at the inn.

I was philosophical. I suggested we check out Schooners back in Ridgecrest. But my mom was livid.

“It will make a good column this way,” I said. But she wasn’t having any. The whole drive back was a litany of expletives.

“I cannot [expletive] [expletive] believe that. They said we had a reservation. What the [expletive][expletive] was that? I had a [expletive] reservation!”
She cursed out the kids for serving as sentries. Jokingly, I think. They were obviously carrying out instructions from the adults in their lives and doing a good job of it.

At one point she turned to me.

“Are you going to quote all my curse words?” she asked.

“Yes,” I said.

“Good!” she said before launching into another string.

Having been once burned, she was dubious that Schooners would actually be open despite the fact that I had confirmed this with them last week for a story.

“We are going to have to get hamburgers! [expletive] [expletive] [expletive],” she kept saying.

Soon we were back on Inyokern Road and headed into town. She pulled onto Norma Street. Beckoning like a stable with a manger, there it was. Schooners was open. The parking lot was largely full and there was a huge welcoming sign advertising a traditional Christmas dinner.

You can guess the rest. Schooners was doing a brisk business. Service was wonderful and the ambiance was comforting. The food was outstanding and the holiday was saved. We had a great time and another story was added the family legend.

Just don’t mess with those kids.

– Jessica Weston is an award-winning columnist and the city editor for The Daily Independent. She can be reached at jweston@ridgecrestca.com

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The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the official stance of the Daily Independent.