Phillip and I drove to Federal Way this morning. Phillip had planned a group outing to see Maleficent at The Commons (or, as I still refer to it, SeaTac Mall).
We got to the mall an hour before the movie started, on purpose. We sent out a message that we had arrived, and then toured the mall. Like I’ve said before, Phillip and I are not fans of shopping malls, and the problem was compounded by how depressing The Commons felt. There weren’t many vacant shop spaces, but the shops were largely empty. The mall was largely empty.
Actually, the movie theater seems to be the only place in The Commons doing a brisk business.
Phillip had invited a good mix of friends. There were a lot of folks from NorWesCon. Our nephew Colin was there. Our friend Snowie, whom we’d met through geocaching, was there. Our friends Debbie and June were there. 16 people had RSVPed with a “yes”, and I think we had close to that number show up.
Maleficent was wonderful. It was a story that emphasized character over action. It was heavy on CGI imagery – but used more to set an atmosphere than to overwhelm. It played with some nice twists on the classic fairy tale. And there was a wonderful, unexpected message at the end.
The plan was for the group to have lunch afterwards, but neither Phillip nor I know the Federal Way area well enough to suggest a restaurant. So we let the group vote on where to go. The group agreed on the new AFK in Renton. It seemed like everyone knew where AFK is except Phillip and me. So, we took Snowie with us – which worked out perfectly, since he needed a ride to Seattle afterwards.
Colin had to leave, but the rest of us went to our cars, to re-group at AFK.
Snowie guided us over to Auburn, then down Highway 167 to Renton. I thought this was amusing: At the highway exit, Ikea is listed as one of the nearby “tourist attractions.”
I wasn’t sure if any of our group had arrived before us, so I told the greeter that we were meeting a large group of people. The greeter knew exactly who I was talking about, so she lead us to a corner of the restaurant – where a NorWesCon planning meeting was about to start.
Snowie, Phillip, and I took a table near the meeting. Debbie and June joined us. More of our group took adjacent tables. Since most of our movie group were involved in NorWesCon, it was difficult to tell where the meeting ended and our group began.
Debbie and June conversed with Snowie so easily that I didn’t realize they had never met each other before today – until Debbie introduced herself.
The AFK in Renton is a branch of the AFK in Everett. The menu is the same, and the food is just as delicious. The staff seemed unprepared for our large groups, however. There seemed to be only one waiter in the place, and he seemed to be able to handle one thing at a time. He would take one table’s order, disappear for a long time, take the next table’s order, disappear… and so on.
Although our table was the first to be seated, we were the fourth table the waiter got to. We had waited nearly an hour to have our orders taken. The five of us were annoyed, but took it in stride. (I defended our waiter’s single-mindedness by guessing that he was feeling overwhelmed, and was merely trying to keep organized.) We made a secret game of it. When Debbie realized she’d forgotten to order a soda, she flagged the waiter down. Then we timed how long it took for the soda to arrive. (Five minutes.)
When the checks came, I left the waiter a big tip. It wasn’t his fault the place was understaffed.
We gave Snowie a ride to Broadway, via Rainier Avenue, and had great conversations along the way.
This was a great day.