Birthday Dinner #2

Birthday Dinner picks up with the characters from “Whiteout” ( ), Zach and Becca, still immersed in their dream of love. Becca is treating Zach to dinner at a fancy restaurant in honor of his twenty-fourth birthday. Zach is appropriately impressed (overwhelmed, really) with the extravagance of the gift–their special table at the restaurant, the abundance of food. In short, everything is going as these young lovers had planned and hoped. Here’s a sample of where they start out, drawn from early in the novel and the dinner:

Try as they might, neither could polish off their mound of greens. Zach wished he could keep his salad to accompany his entrée, but there wouldn’t be enough room on the table for the large bowl and the added plates. So he reluctantly relinquished the bowl to Shelley, their waitress, when she came to clear the table in advance of the next course.

She hadn’t been gone thirty seconds when two servers from the kitchen showed up with their bounteous main course. A smiling gray-haired woman in a red apron set a “petite” filet mignon, twice-stuffed potato, and creamed spinach—all on individual plates—in front of Becca. A large black man in a blue apron (an apprentice chef named Gerald) put Zach’s “King-cut” prime rib (a slab of glistening red meat that extended past the edges of the large oval platter), gargantuan baked potato, and squash casserole to fill his half of the table. After the servers said “Enjoy” and left, Shelley soon followed with a wood cutting board holding a half a loaf of thick slices of fresh-baked bread coated in melting butter. She then offered each of them whipped butter, sour cream, bacon bits, or chives for their potatoes, and horseradish sauce for their beef. After Shelley’d made sure they had everything they wanted or needed and left, the wine steward came by with two large wine glasses generously filled with a dark Cabernet, “Compliments of the hostess.” After depositing the glasses on their table (needing to condense some of their plates to find room), the dignified gentleman leaned close to Zach and whispered, “Happy Birthday,” then put a finger to his lips and slipped away in silence.

Just looking at the feast spread before them made Zach feel full (he already was sort of full from the profuse appetizers and salad). He took a couple deep breaths, like an athlete prepping for a marathon contest, before reaching for his fork and the large, wood-handled steak knife.

Becca watched him the whole time. She’d caught Zach by surprise with the sheer abundance of the meal, her birthday gift to him. She rarely caught Zach by surprise and took a moment to enjoy that reward. Then she cradled the wine glass in her palm and raised it. “To the year ahead, a feast upon this feast.”

Zach lifted his glass. “And in thanks for the gift.”

They tapped glasses over the middle of the table, the crystal glittering, the wine like dark blood held aloft by their young fresh hands.

So all is going as hoped and planned at this birthday dinner–until God, for reasons that are unclear (when are God’s reasons ever clear?) hijacks these ardent youngsters and places them in his dream: a different sort of banquet, a new version of love for them to explore.

Return in a few days for a sample of this alternate dream that Zach and Becca find themselves caught in.



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