It’s Saturday night. The first four guests walk in the door of D’Antonio’s, an Italian restaurant on the corner of Lexington Ave & Main St. A young girl named Jodi who works as the host greets them and shows them to their table. She gives them menus and asks:

“Have you ever been here before?”

“No, we haven’t. Our colleagues highly recommended it, so we thought we’d give it a try.”

“Excellent!” Jodi responded. “So, we are a little different than most restaurants. People can order from the menu or we will guide you through the meal, bringing out food to start and then adding new items based on to how you react to the first tastes.”

“Oh, that sounds fun!” says a middle-aged woman sitting beside a clean-shaven man. “John, this is a little like being in Europe.”

“Haha, yes,” John replies. “Im excited!”

“So, will you be ordering or would you like us to choose the course for you?” Jodi inquires.

The woman asks the couple sitting across the table from her and John, “What do you guys think – should we let them choose?”

The young man and woman agree that it would be better to have the chef choose. They tell Jodi and she quickly signals to her co-worker Michael, a young waiter standing nearby, who then disappears into the kitchen. “House rules!” he yells to Johnny the chef, who nods knowingly.

In a flash, Michael is back in the dining room and getting the drink order of the foursome.

“I’ll have a Chardonnay – whatever you have,” says the middle-aged woman.

“I’ll do an I.P.A.,” says the young man.

“We’ve got four,” Michael responds. “Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, Founders, and Ithica.”

“I’ll go with Ithica.”

“For you, ma’am?” Michael asks the young lady.

“Do you have mixed drinks?”

“No, I’m sorry; only beer and wine.”

“Ok, then I’ll have a white wine, too. Maybe a sweet Riesling.”

“My pleasure, ma’am. And for you, sir?”

“Just water with a lemon for me, thank you.”

“Thanks, I’ll be right back,” says Michael and he’s gone to the drink refrigerator, where Jodi is waiting for him.

“Sweet Riesling and a Chardonnay,” he says to Jodi, who goes into the fridge looking for them. “So what time were you here ’till last night?”

“I left here at midnight and went right to bed,” she said. “Tonight, there’s a party at Javier’s lake house and I wanted to be all charged up.”

“Nice!” Michael said, wide-eyed. He filled a glass with ice and water, putting a lemon slice on the rim. “D’you think I can come?”

“Of course,” Jodi exlaimed. “I’m bringing my cousin, Madison, too”

“Alright.” Michael responded, coldly. He tried not to seem too excited. Michael had always thought Madison was so much fun, and he hadn’t seen her since she left for school in Jersey last August.

“You’ll be happy to see her, eh, Mikey!” Jodi teased him.

“Whatever, Jodi, she’s cool,” he said, not playing into her trap.

“Cool? You went bananas last summer when you couldn’t see her to say goodbye!” she reminded him.

“That was almost a year ago.”

“Oh, so it’s different now.”

“Well, I don’t know what it is. I haven’t seen her in so long.” Michael wondered to himself if she’d be very different. Then he thought that he, too, must be much different than he was last summer. He had also been away at school, down in North Carolina, playing lacrosse and in class and rooming with all kinds of new and interesting people. His suite mates were from all over the country: Montana, Jersey, Maryland, Boston, and even some native North-Carolinians.

He had pledged Sigma Chi and earned honors in all of his freshman courses. He already knew what he wanted to focus on for his next three years in the psychology major. There were a thousand new experiences that he had had at school and he thought there’s no way he’s the same as he was before leaving.