My dinner companions Friday night were ages 10 and 40. One stuck a straw in her nose. One sat quietly.
The 10-year-old is the one I dine with the least, and the one I enjoyed the most.
"I'm cranky," the kid announced when I met her and her dad at Farrelli's newest pizza parlor, the one on Pacific and Garfield in Parkland, near PLU.
"I hate tomatoes," the kid said halfway through the meal, joyously licking tomato sauce off a slice of pie.
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"Bacon!" she exclaimed at one random moment. "I loooooooooove bacon!"
"I love Swedish fish," I said, matching her non sequitur for non sequitur.
"Sour gummies," the kid replied, hitting my candy curveball right back at me.
"I lost a tooth in a Big Hunk," I said.
"Beans!" she screamed, beaming at me devilishly. "Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeans."
Then she did more things kids do: rolled her eyes into the back of her head, stuck both ends of a straw in her nostrils, laughed, smiled rays of honey sunshine and looked cute as hell.
The straw up the nose was over the top for my tastes, and I wondered why her dad let her do it. His dad and my dad would have smacked us both upside the heads for doing that during any meal, anywhere.
But there was no question why I enjoyed talking and eating with this cute kid who'd stuck a straw up her nose:
Food, to her, was uninhibited joy.
Tomatoes may be fruit that taste like vegetables, but simmer some with sugar and spice and spread the sauce on a disc of dough with cheese and wait for the oven to do something nice. What kid of any age wouldn't lick that pizza?
(Which is now a good time to say: Farrelli's crust is too bready and under-baked for my tastes, but I enjoyed the meatball and veggie deluxe pies. The former looked like a marvelous Margherita dotted with bite-sized balls of mildly spiced ground beef. The latter was a democratic array of pine nuts, artichoke hearts, petso and feta. Adults loved that one; the kid wouldn't touch it.)
I looked around the restaurant and counted kids. Babies, tots, lads, lasses and those in various stages of adolescence ... I ran out of fingers and toes. Except for the straw in the nose, I saw minors acting up.
Last night, I walked into a bistro in University Place and encountered a baby on a table. That sounds like a set-up to a joke, right? (Mmmmm, stuffed kid a la Swift with Gerber sauce.) But seriously: The baby slept, and the parents dined in comfortable silence.
I haven't reached the stage where I'd consider breeding my own dining companions, but to those who have: Next time you see me, I'll buy you a drink.