Table for Ten

About a week ago, my sister announced her oldest daughter, Lauren, is maybe, probably, almost certainly getting married, to which another sister replied, “Should we throw him into the deep end of the pool?” That’s how nine of us, plus one dazed fiancé, ended up at a Brazilian restaurant that was happy to take our money, even though they didn’t technically have room for quite that many elbows.

To be honest, it was probably my fault. I wasn’t intending to go because I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, and was so exhausted I was starting to blubber my lips and hope complete sentences fell out. But Saturday morning I awoke after a whole night’s sleep, and figured I’d better get myself added to the dinner reservation . . . oh, and my kids, Abby and Porter, are coming, can you add them too? . . . An hour before dinner I learned my son, Chase, was carpooling from Provo with the happy couple. Could we stir him into the mix? The restaurant very kindly accommodated us, cheerfully adding more plates and chairs—but not more space. How do ten people have dinner at a six-person table? We were about to find out.

Our table was actually three square tables shoved together. You’ve seen these tables, one being just the right size to seat four people, one person per side, when the whole contraption is sitting separately in the middle of the room. But these tables were pushed together, end to end, one end butted against a column, creating a geometric story problem in which one table that accommodates four people becomes three tables that accommodate six. Technically, it could have seated seven, if they’d counted the head, but they didn’t. Instead, they looked at those three dinky, square tables, and said, “Oh yeah, two plates totally fit on one side.” Mathematically speaking, they were correct, the plates did measure the adequate number of inches. Tragically, the people arrived with all kinds of hideous space wasters like backsides, legs, shoulders, and worst of all, elbows.

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