In a conspiratorial tone, I say, "Let's go get more, Ed. Do it with me, let's get more food and keep eating -- that way we'll never have to switch off." Ed smiles in agreement. I decide I like Ed.
I'm on my first bite of plate two when Jane returns, exhausted, carrying Bella in her arms. My niece's face is painted -- she is a glittery, pink and purple kitty with a mane of corn-silk spirals. I'm appreciating her cuteness when I hear, "Where are our plates?"
Regina is staring at the table, her brows furrowed in either anger or annoyance. Ed looks to me for help -- we had been charged with the duty of watching Jane and Regina's plates while they were away, but we had abandoned our post for selfish gains, leaving our loved ones to suffer the casualty of lost food. I talked him into it; this was my fault. How to make things right?
"We did our best to protect it," I blurt. "There were, like, four people who tried to take it away and we fought them off as best we could." Ed nods and beseeches his wife with innocent eyes. Encouraged, I continue: "We turned our heads for two seconds -- two -- and when we looked back, the plates were gone. That's when I caught sight of them -- boat employees, dressed as ninjas, flipping and somersaulting toward the kitchen, and they never once dropped their goods. It was pretty amazing to watch, actually."
Ed is no longer smiling, just looking at me with his head cocked to one side, as if to say, Where the fuck are you going with this? "Anyway, you should just get more," I suggest to Regina. "I mean, the buffet's only a few feet away." When she rises to replace her meal, she does so backwards, as if to keep a wary eye on me.
"Come on, Bella," I say, setting my empty glass on the table and lifting my niece into my arms. "Let's play 'Which Server Has the Best Desserts on Their Tray.'"