We are at a expensive restaurant. My dearly beloved and I, along with our daughter, are the first to arrive. When fully realized, we will be a group of eight. This is a family event.
I order a martini and comment on how delighted I am with the table at which we are seated.
"Everyone can see me," I say with smug satisfaction. I am wearing lipstick and I have also used a copious amount of hairspray.
My husband eyes the menu. "Maybe we can just share our entrees with the kids."
I glare at him as though he has just closed one nostril with his forefinger and hockered into the butter dish out of the free nostril. "Just wait for the waiter says about it."
Each item on the menu is ala carte. "Maybe we could order different side dishes and pass them around," he offers.
While inhaling an enormous wife sigh, I roll my eyes. "Would you take a look around?" I say. "This is not some cheesy family-style affair. It is an elegant restaurant. We are not going to pass clanging dishes around for chrissake! What are we, the goddamn Waltons?"
"Mom said 'goddamn,'" says my 9-year-old.
"Honey," I say, "I said no such thing. I said 'Grandma,'"
"You said 'goddamn,'" she says.
My husband says nothing, just shakes his husband head, sips his beer and goes back to the menu.
The rest of us arrive. We sip cocktails. We chat. The kids mercifully behave.
The server approaches us with the look that servers display when they are ready to impart information. She talks about the quality of steaks the establishment serves. She tells us the specials. She recommends some of her favorite dishes.
"Our side dishes are very generous and each one is more than enough for two people," she says. "We encourage family-style dining." She continues, explaining that if each person orders one different side dish and passes them around and shares, there will be something for everyone and more than enough.
The restaurant, our server tells us, offers a smaller portion of steak, salmon or chicken for children. "Or," she adds, "the kids are welcome to simply share parts of your entrees and side dishes."
My husband transforms into a giant smiling Buddha fashioned from shimmering gold. I disappear.