To an adolescent, there is nothing in the world more embarrassing than a parent. Dave Barry

I don’t like shopping malls, my preference is the suburban mom & pop shops; the butcher who will cut exactly what I want for my oven, the fruitier who knows my name and asks about my dogs’ health, the bakery where I can select just three croissants. Ditto chain restaurants; I abhor them. Still, I am the mother of an adolescent girl and – from time to time – it falls upon me to do my Mom’s Taxi duty.

And so it was yesterday, the dort and her friend asked (very nicely) to be ferried to a mall some distance away, the venue of the closest ice skating rink. I was allowed to pay their entrance and skate-hire fees, but was banished to a nearby restaurant, where I could see them, but not actually be seen by their friends. 

Spur is a franchised chain of which I am vocal of my disdain to the extent that my own sister has called me a ‘toffee-nosed snob’. I accept the label without apology. 

At the table next to mine were a young couple with a small daughter of about 3 years old. Both husband and wife were morbidly obese. Pretending to read my magazine, I eavesdropped as they ordered their food. They’d been eating starters of heaped plates of nachos and cheese when I arrived, now I heard an endless stream of orders; giant T Bone steaks, fries, crumbed mushrooms, garlic and cheese French rolls, onion rings, butternut, cheese sauce … Oh, the man called the waiter back. Can I have two fried eggs on top of my steak! And their giant glasses of Coke kept being refilled.

Their food arrived and – now shamelessly staring – I watched as they set to a determined shovelling. No chit chat; fork into mouth, swallow and repeat. About midway through their meal, the little girl became crotchety and her father picked her up and took her to the kiddies’ playroom, which is visible from the tables by way of closed circuit TV. To my absolute horror, the woman – not taking her eyes off the TV screen – started stealing her husband’s food. As if she was in a panic, she stuffed food from his plates into her mouth, also taking great gulps from his glass.

I’ve been unable to get this young woman off my mind. It’s fascinating* in the most ghoulish way; why – when her own plate was still overflowing – was she so desperate for more?

*Sideview’s weekend theme is fascinating. To participate, please leave a comment here.