When our children were very young, and we would make the inevitably poor decision to go out for a meal at a restaurant that did not have a playground inside, one of us would get to the table early to confiscate all the place settings except those where adults would be sitting. This preemptive parental strike was designed to create a better dining experience for the unfortunate souls who were seated within shouting distance of our table. Based on previous disasters (most meals), removing utensils and paper items would minimize the chance that napkins and placemats would get shredded, creatively torn to create tribal fertility masks, or converted into stylish headwear. If there were diners who were disappointed they didn't get to hear dueling fork and spoon percussion solos coming from our table, none complained to me. I'm sure there were a few parents who felt cheated that the mom and dad at our table wouldn't play the pick up the utensil game with the kids. Since our boys would morph without warning into ninja warriors with terrible aim, we viewed all silverware as potentially lethal.
Any place that allowed us to return had a directive to seat us near the kitchen...and we were more than OK with that. I'm pretty sure that some people who passed by our table thought the barbarians had arrived. When a concerned gentleman stopped by our table one evening he directed a comment toward our then ten year old. "Isn't he a bit old to be eating with his hands?", he queried. Before my wife could respond, I shot back, "I suggest you keep your distance, sir. Otherwise he might puncture your lung with that chicken leg he's finishing." That was enough to get him going back to his table.
Flash forward twenty years and the kids are living on their own. My wife and I go to nicer restaurants with some regularity. The staff at these places are genuinely glad to see us and urge us to return soon. We enjoy the occasional adult beverage and the quiet conversation that ensues. It is a joyful experience. Yesterday was one of those days. We had a wonderful day together and decided to have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Cap's On The Water, in Vilano Beach. Seated on the covered porch on a perfect evening, we were enjoying our drinks while watching the sun slip behind the trees. Things couldn't have been better. Then the sun glinting off my fork caught my eye and I looked down to see this very interesting shadow. Before I know it, I'm moving the fork around to see what kinds of shapes I can create on the cedar tabletop and out comes the camera phone. I'm totally absorbed in my artistic reverie until Monica says, "Do I need to take that fork from you?"
Even now, it's sometimes tough to be an adult.