Hannah's 16th Birthday,
August 24, 2000

My niece Hannah turned 16 on August 24, 2000 -- a big deal in Virginia because that's the age when kids get their "I don't have to have an adult in the car with me" driver's license.

There's a tradition in our family that the 16th birthday is a big deal with a special cake and all, so I headed off to Virginia to be in on the fun.

Hannah got to pick the restaurant where we went for dinner, and this vegetarian kid took pity on us meat-eaters and picked a terrific local Mexican restaurant there in Blacksburg to celebrate in style.

It was not exactly what any of us were expecting.

Oh, the food was good, of course. Excellent, as a matter of fact. Among the best we've ever had.

And the service was really terrific -- you never ran out of anything without at least one waiter, sometimes two, asking if you'd like more.

And we were expecting the usual hand-clapping and singing from the waiters, since my sister -- Hannah's mother -- had arranged to have a special dessert served at the end of the meal. We just weren't quite expecting how special the dessert -- and its service -- would be.

Out they trooped from the kitchen -- four or five young waiters with hands clapping and a Mexican birthday tune being belted out at the top of their lungs. In the hands of one, a straw hat. And in the hands of another... well... you kind of have to see for yourself!

I have to say that Hannah took it all in extraordinary good humor. She suffered through the cream in the face and the photos and the laughter with a grin on her face.

We haven't figured out quite what she meant by the "I'll get you for this if it's the last thing I do" comment, though...

terrific Mexican food
Thomas & Hannah enjoy Mexican food

After-dinner surprise

Some cream, miss?
Some cream with that?

Nice hat
Nice hat...

Better look
A better look

Clean-up time
Clean-up time!

Still hungry
Can I finish MY dessert now?

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