Sitting at a table in a restaurant as a child, you notice a lot of details, including the variety of people at the other tables and inherently, one table is the loud, laughing group of grown-ups. I wanted to be them. I wanted to know what they were laughing about and envied the good time feeling they put out. Well, except for the time we were at Charlie Brown's steakhouse; at the loud table one man stood up and mooned everyone and my sister was mortified... but that's another story.
So, planning a dinner out with friends at a restaurant quite close to home, I look forward to the company maybe even a bit more than the food. Once we are all together, the first tough decision comes after being asked, "What would you like to drink?" A cocktail for me is about the taste or a mood not about how much alcohol I can throw back and since I would not be able to drive after more than one, I have to think carefully about my choice. My standard...
a classic Cosmopolitan!
Although on this particular night out I requested a Mojito, the restaurant does not serve Mojito's so the standard suits me just fine. A round for the table includes other rum drinks, an amaretto with ginger ale, and a Jack and Coke. Not a wine-o present this time.
We are a group of 8 and conversation breaks down into small subgroups since one end of the table cannot hear the other. Except for the few funny stories where we seem to "tune in" to one speaker and those are the ones that make the whole table laugh.
One of us told of a shopping experience gone wrong. Innocently browsing through the departments of a national department store (ok, so it was JCPenney - of course), she could hear a foot chase, quickly followed by the distinct sound of loaded gun feeding a bullet into the chamber. She ducks behind a luggage display and prays the Samsonite will protect her. No shots were ever fired. Though the story was very serious and knowing our friend was now safe, the image of her peering out, wide eyed behind a nylon suitcase brought out the groups best belly laughs.
Our meals encompassed a wide range of tastes: veal parmesan, broiled seafood platter, penne a la vodka with shrimp, a margerita pizza, 2 lobster raviolli dinners and now I can't remember if it was stuffed chicken or fish... See how it really wasn't about the meal but the company? Everyone seemed happy and content with their choices and large portion sizes. For me, the raviolli were cooked perfectly, not too mushy or firm and it does seem a little strange to have mixed vegetables on the plate, they can be a welcome escape from the same taste throughout a meal. The shrimp were also the correct tenderness and a nice accompaniment to the dish.
Though no one had room for dessert, no one was ready to leave and so the stories and laughs continued with coffee and tea. It's always best for me to walk away wanting more rather than full or sluggish and so I am looking forward to the next time we gather for a meal or play or go on a field trip. With these folks, I am a part of That Table.