The upside of a dinner disaster

On a crisp Saturday night in January, I stumbled upon an unexpected life lesson: the undeniable value of always keeping Tostitos Hint of Lime chips at the ready.

My birthday celebration was planned with precision—a 7:45 reservation for dinner with friends at Barcelona in the South End. However, upon arrival, we found our table was not ready. The restaurant was brimming with people. The crowd near the door waiting for a table was so large that it was impossible to force our way through, so we withdrew outside the restaurant to wait until we could be seated.

As we stood huddled on the sidewalk, it began to snow. Not just a light dusting, but a dumping of snow. After 15 minutes of freezing on the sidewalk, I ventured back inside for an update. The hostess estimated another 30-minute delay with a dismissive shrug. My stomach panged with hunger, and my disappointment gnawed as I relayed the bleak forecast to my friends.

As snow continued to layer, our frustration and hunger deepened into a collective hanger. As 8:30 finally rolled around, I eagerly dashed back inside to claim my table. Yet devastatingly, the previous party clung to our table with no intention of leaving soon. At that point, my appetite had reached a threshold beyond what I could bear, and I could no longer endure the wait.

At my limit and feeling faint from hunger, salvation came in the form of my friend Clare, who suggested a quick detour to CVS. There, I acquired a bag of Tostitos Hint of Lime chips, and we returned to our chilly outpost.

Nestled on the curb, chips in hand, the absurdity of our situation struck me. Chomping on my delicious snack, I could not
help but laugh —my predicament was nothing short of comical. Suddenly the wait didn’t seem so intolerable. My friends and I were all doubled over, cackling at the position we had found ourselves in, and I completely forgot about the table waiting for us inside the warm restaurant.

Finally seated, the restaurant staff , recognizing our lengthy ordeal, presented us with a complimentary charcuterie board. The rest of the night, my friends and I ate delicious food and laughed about the night we had.

This entire experience could have been entirely negative. I could have focused only on the bad parts of my situation, embraced my hunger, and complained incessantly about how cold I felt. Instead, somewhat accidentally, I put a more positive spin on my circumstances, and ended up looking back on them quite fondly. This lesson is something I strive to apply to my life generally. Things don’t always go my way, but if I can take everything in stride and see the good in something that could feel frustrating, I can live a life filled with more joy and laughter.

My birthday dinner taught me not only the importance of anticipating hanger by making sure to always have a snack handy, but to embrace the unexpected with humor and grace. On that snowy night, with a bag of Tostitos in hand, I learned to find laughter in even the most frustrating moments. This lesson has proved useful in many endeavors. During the doldrums of the winter, for example, in the midst of basketball season, I could have been defeated by the long season awaiting me. Instead, I took daily trips to Starbucks with my friends. I laughed, drank countless matcha lattes, and found the good in an otherwise mundane, tiring time.

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