Monday, December 2, 2013


By Peggy van Hulsteyn and Sasha Mahar

I am convinced that the only escape from the Theater of the Absurd is a sense of humor.  Case in point:
Recently, we attended the World Parkinson Congress in Montreal, Canada.  The event was a vast  melting pot of neurologists and experts, PD patients and their partners.  After three days of non-stop workshops and networking, David and I decided to take a brief foray to romantic, charming Quebec City. We settled into a cozy room in a pleasant hotel in the heart of “Vieux--Quebec.”
In the spirit of gastronomical adventure, I  asked the  handsome and knowledgeable concierge to make reservations at the best French restaurant in town. He did so with aplomb.  After he made the arrangements, we chatted, and I came to learn that he was a hockey coach as well as a bon vivant. This should have given me a clue as to his preference in restaurants.
"Restaurant Pierre" was classically French, he assured me.  It provided a magnificent rack of lamb and Crepes Suzette.  The food was stellar, the ambiance perfect, the champagne was flowing...
If only I could get there!
For when the taxi deposited us at the given address, beneath the carved wood shingle for "Restaurant Pierre", swaying in the brisk autumn breeze, we looked to find the entrance at the top of two flights of very steep stairs--and I in a wheelchair!!

The situation was so absurd that I felt like Alice in one of Lewis Carroll’s maddening conundrums, peering at the door to a magnificent land, but unable to enter. David and I caught each other’s eye and began to laugh. It was frustrating, yes, but tres amusing.

Not to worry--our hosts had everything under control.  Once the maitre’d received news of our arrival, he opened the distant door at the top of the steps to unleash a team of waiters who, presumably, were off-season, hockey players themselves. They swooped down the stairs, grabbed my wheelchair and carried me up.   I was terrified; I was grateful; I was amused.

And suddenly, with a fan fare that only the French could pull off , I was placed at my table.

Breathlessly gazing  upon this beautiful table, shining with silver, wine glasses and candles, David and I started to laugh again, as he observed  “Talk about being carried away by the perfect dining experience!”

“You know, there’s nothing I like better at dinner parties  than a dramatic table setting,”  I piped up, “but  this is the first time that I felt like  the centerpiece!”

At that moment, the entire dining room began to applaud as the waiter poured us champagne ordered by an anonymous customer.

“Bon Apetit,” many of the dining room patrons said in unison.

Even before the splendid rack of lamb and Crepes Suzette graced our table, we knew this was a repast we would never forget!

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