Your kid rolls around on the marble floor of the Italian restaurant. He has been screaming now for at least five minutes. He pulls the red table cloth off the neighbor's table, sending their filets with broccoli and potato crashing to the floor. A couple of the patrons laugh, quieting themselves when the three waiters in matching outfits scurry to clean it up, disappearing as fast as they appeared.
You laugh and think this is nothing but this is where it begins. This is where it could all go wrong, one thing leading to another leading to another leading to another.
My date and I don't know what to say; it's our first date; we awkwardly eat our free appetizer. You and your wife ignore your kid, a thin blonde boy who is probably six or seven. Instead you and your wife are drinking white wine in bulbous glasses, checking your matching phones to show each other pictures of your day. Your kid then throws himself in the middle of the restaurant, rolling around the tile floor and screaming as if he's been shot. Your kid climbs up the back of a chair occupied by an old man in a brown out-of-date suit and dances on his table, stepping in his soup and splashing it on the rouged cheek of the old man's wife. Your kid grabs the French bread off the table of a plain woman who is eating alone and hits her over the head with it until it breaks. And then he makes what he thinks is a cute face.
Meanwhile, you are on your phone while your wife has excused herself to the bathroom. At the same time, your kid has punched the Maitre 'd in the nuts and now tells the customers waiting for the seats that they suck and they have to go somewhere else. Three customers who have been waiting for 20 minutes bow their heads and quickly exit.
Can't you do something? my date asks me. It is clear to me that she doesn't go out on many dates to restaurants. I look over to you at the table next to me and kind of wave, trying to get your attention. You see me while still talking loudly into your phone and shift your eyes away from me.
Your kid now runs into the kitchen. Screams from the cooks can be heard and your kid runs out the swinging door with a bloody steak knife. He feints at the table of a young couple. The girl screams and the guy uses his plate to block the knife from coming into contact. Your wife returns from the restroom and says to the kid, Michael, behave yourself, before holding up her hand to get the waiter's attention and then pointing to her empty wine glass.
When your kid comes at me with the still bloody steak knife, I do the thing that I feel I have to do to protect all of us: I throw our table cloth over him. He stumbles over the length of it, falling to the floor, hopelessly tangled, the knife bouncing harmlessly away. Your kid cries underneath it as you and your wife untangle him, giving me dirty looks, as they huffily exit the restaurant, vowing never to return.
The old man with the wife who has the burned rouge cheek offers to pick up our check. I order our first bottle of pinot noir as the other restaurant patrons applaud.
My dates smiles happily at me. She is a keeper.