An icicle in a business suit spears through the café door and barks for a table for six.
He will be joined by his son, his daughter, their iPads, and his associate Richard via Bluetooth.
The patriarch is already seated in the dining room before his children can exit the car, propelled by the facts and figures that are being rattled into his ear. Sure, sir. Any table will do.
There is no need for menus as they already appear on the screens of his kids' tablets. Dad will have the tabbouleh salad, dressing on the side, and his son will have a Black Angus Burger. His daughter, the eldest, orders a warm goat cheese salad with raspberry vinaigrette tossed in with the lettuce as it comes. They will forego bread and butter or any appetizers at all. The retina display of their i's is decidedly larger than their stomachs.
Once dinner arrives, the clan breaks their virtual silence to say Grace before their mouths become busy with mastication.
"Pass the ketchup."
"Shut your face"
"You're THE WORST."
"Would you two cut it out?! I cannot hear. Sorry, Richard. Please, do continue."
Father dearest adamantly declines dessert or coffee when he shoves his Amex to the edge of the table mid-meal. The crusty ketchup on his son's lips crack under the weight of a frown realizing that Crushed Candy will just have to suffice tonight.
Two nights later, his sister holds the door open and politely requests a table for four. Her mother and stepfather mosey in holding hands steps behind and stray off to assess the display case of freshly-baked goods. Dessert will be chosen before dinner because an evening without chocolate is not really an evening at all.
They choose an illuminated table by the window with a quaint view of the porch. The technology on the children's laps is replaced with linen napkins and their bitter words are sweetened by a shared plate of Baby Bleu salad.
The party of four celebrates life — laughing, smiling, breathing.
They grow full from indulging in the company of each other, but still leave room for at least a bite of the cheesecake brownie in their future.
A single iPad will impede upon paying for their meal to authorize a purchase of croissants for tomorrow's family brunch.