If life were easy, then it wouldn't be very interesting. For better or worse, we get curve balls that regularly test our character. Family matters are particularly trying.
Knowing that a loved one is going under the knife, no matter how skilled the surgeon, is cause for concern, particularly when the surgery is a dangerous one with a low success rate. When the patient is your mother, it's downright terrifying. Thanks to talented physicians, my mother's surgery went according to plan. The healing process has begun, if ever so slowly. (Anything less than immediate, full recuperation is unacceptable.) Extreme empathy is inevitable, as the mother-son bond is a unique one. The waiting is the hardest part, and family comes first. I enjoy living in a city where people understand that.
More important, I love living in a city where people haven't a clue that you're struggling, but brighten your day simply by being themselves.
Somewhat exasperated by a week of unwelcome surprises, Friday night called for carryout Chinese and a movie. For this task, Sun Luck Garden in Cleveland Heights is top choice.
"Sun Luck Garden!" said a familiar, cheery voice when I called to place my order.
"Hello, I 'd like to place an order for carryout, please."
"Sure! What would you like on your Klondike bar?" said the excited man on phone. Giggling, the order was placed: two vegetable egg rolls ("two delicious, crispy egg rolls"), two wonton soups ("two lovely wonton soups"). Once he determined that the Green Jewels and chicken dumplings entrées were available, the final details were explained.
"One more thing: we are actually closed tonight for a private event," I was told. At that point, it was further explained that I'd need to pull around behind the restaurant, knock on the rear door leading to the kitchen, and somebody would have my order. The simple act of ordering Chinese takeaway was shaping up to be delightfully strange.
Thirty minutes later, my girlfriend and I arrived at the rear door of the restaurant, and, as promised, the lovingly eccentric man on the phone, Jeff, was there to meet us. Our food was not ready. We were asked to please wait in the car.
With that, Jeff came out, beaming and bearing two diminutive quiche Lorraine appetizers, made with Chinese bacon and creamy egg and cheese. Delicious. Minutes after that, he returned with a new plate, topped with two phyllo pastries with a fragrant, sweet chutney-like eggplant filling. He then scuttled off, laughing out loud. We were laughing out loud, too.
A few moments later, he returned, apologizing for the slight delay, and presented us with two curried butternut squash pastry puffs. Our actual order arrived shortly thereafter. We exchanged a few quips, and went our separate ways.
Jeff at Sun Luck made ordering Chinese a decidedly interesting, wholly hilarious and fun experience. He reminded us that the world can be a magical place, and sometimes joyous occasion arrives when and where you least expect it. Thanks for the curve ball, Jeff.
Photograph by Manji Designs