My husband, already settled into our big commodious booth, was immediately approached by the waiter. "Do you see a camera? I've already checked the area, but the party before you, a group of six women, has misplaced a camera and still can't find it."
We all stood up again, checked under our coats and on the floor, looked behind the condiments, but couldn't see a camera. The waiter went off to report our unsuccessful search.
Hungry and in a holiday mood, we each proceeded to order our favorite appetizers, including roasted artichokes and avocado eggrolls in yummy greens. Strawberry martinis added the complementary red. Next the robust entrees, like my steak Diane, were all delicious and avidly tucked into, along with the appropriate wines.
We hadn't reached desserts yet when a woman appeared at our table. Apologizing for interrupting our meal, she started to explain about the still missing camera, new in its case and brought specifically to commemorate the special occasion. Was it possible that the camera could still be somewhere in the booth? Could she just look under the table again?
Did she know she was speaking to an art journaler whose family room has been taken over by supplies? Of course we understood. Photos are irreplaceable and not to be lightly shrugged off. We all knew this to be the truth. So we all stood up again and checked everywhere. But still no camera.
Then my youngest son decided to use his recently downloaded flashlight application on his iPhone to illuminate the darkness under the booth seats in one last sweep. On a recent hockey trip, he'd needed this app to finish reading Bonfire of the Vanities without disturbing his sleeping roommate. Apparently, the last 100+ pages had demanded to be read without delay.
Guess what? There, all the way back into the furthest recesses of the corner of the booth, barely discernible, was something small, flat, dark and irregular. Even with my husband's long legs and arms, it was hard to reach back there without actually crawling under the booth. While my son crouched to illuminate the darkness and give directions, my husband moved his arm accordingly further and further back until he touched it. Yes, the camera.
Everyone was delighted! The woman and I hugged as I wished her Merry Christmas with a big smile. She went off with her recovered treasure and a big smile. With renewed energy, we took up our dessert menus.
Then suddenly another interruption, as a man quickly approached our booth. "Thank you for finding the camera. Dinner's on us," he announced, and just as quickly disappeared. Soon our waiter came to confirm the news. Because we had made an adventure of the hunt, the happily relieved woman and her happily relieved husband had picked up our tab. For our whole dinner party. Jolly old Santa was surely chuckling happily, too.
Merry Christmas, everyone!