If you haven't heard of it, "Dining Out For Life" is a program which goes on in a number of cities around the country. It's typically a one-day event, where restaurants give a percentage of their profits to charities which benefit people living with HIV and AIDS. So... You dine out, and it helps people live - "dining out for life." Get it?
The past few years, Christopher and I have made sure to get reservations early and go out to eat. We've typically invited other people to go with us, and we usually have a really good time. The restaurants that participate in the Cities are typically packed for dinner, and there's a really cool atmosphere to it all
There are volunteers on hand who greet the diners and talk to them about what the sponsor charity does (in the Twin Cities, the sponsor is The Aliveness Project), and so you get this feeling that you're all sort of attending the same party. Except that it's a party where you have to wait for a table (we waited a good 45 minutes for our table, tonight, even with a reservation) - and where there's a bill at the end.
If you're paying attention, you go into this event knowing what the basics are. And a lot of people book their reservations based on how much money the location is donating. And you just kind of do what you're doing. And you feel good about it. And you think "I dined out for life, tonight."
But Christopher and I really don't go out to eat on weeknights very much. We're usually pretty pooped during the week, so it takes a lot to get us to leave home. And this event is metro-wide, so although we're choosing places we want to eat - and with good donation levels - we're also trying to find places we think people will want to drive to. (We chose Cafe Ena, by the way - we've eaten there a few times, and the food and service have never failed to impress us - slow seating tonight notwithstanding.)
So when we invited a bunch of friends to join us tonight - who didn't all know each other - and chose a restaurant that was fairly close to us but a bit of a drive for the other four... well... we figured it had the potential to be a good night, but you never know.
We got to the restaurant around 6:45. We left at right about 10. We didn't stop talking the entire time - even when the food arrived, the six of us found some way to keep talking as we ate. And it was wonderful. It was one of those meals that makes you glad to be out and about on a school night - even with the knowledge that tomorrow morning is going to come pretty darned early, and that you've blown your meal budget until the 1st of the month.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that tonight we truly did dine out for Life. Not just in the sense of the donation we were making, but in the sense of adding some life to our week. There was tech talk as we waited for our table. There was travel talk over appetizers and pet talk over dinner. There was silliness over churros and cinnamon ice cream. And we were still talking as we walked out the door feeling like alarm clocks are going to ring too early in the morning.
Yes, we dined out for life. And it was good.