Sugar castles

Screen Shot 2013-12-28 at 12.42.57 AMSo last night, while dining at a snazzy restaurant with the wife, I spotted a couple at a nearby table, with a son who appeared to be 9 or 10. The adults were talking. The kid was holding an iPad, with headphones covering his ears.

I hate this scene.

You see it all the time nowadays—a family at a restaurant, sitting alongside one another, eyes 100 percent on screens. The glowing rectangles are everywhere; pacifiers of the mind. When I was a kid, the table was a place for conversation and idea exchanges and creativity.

It was also a place for sugar castles.

Yes, sugar castles. My dad was a master, and at diners we used to go back and forth, stacking Sweet and Lows into thin pink mountains of artificial sweetener goodness. Now, with my kids, sugar castles are staples of the eating-out experience. We’ll build our own; we’ll team up; we’ll try balancing forks and knives atop our creations. It’s fun and cool and funky and creative, and it makes me think back to being a boy.

And it’s much cheaper than an iPad.