Going out to a fine restaurant should be a relaxing experience. You get all dressed up and make the necessary reservations and… end up seated next to a group of rowdy restaurant goers who couldn’t care less that you’re out for the first time in two months, trying to have a quiet conversation with your significant other.
This has happened to all of us and though I should probably be used to it by now, I’m not. In fact, I can’t stand it. As many of you know, I hate people noise. Even in places where people noises are a given, I hate… umm… noise. You expect this kind of migraine-inducing behavior in a family-oriented establishment (I mean, kids, am I right?) but it’s not exactly the kind of ambiance you expect at a five-star restaurant. Can kids make a hell of a lot of noise? Yes. Can adults have a few drinks and start blabbering at a volume comparable to a classroom of 3rd graders going on a field trip? Oh hell yes.
Just this past month (yeah, yeah, okay, so I don’t get out much), I visited a local restaurant with a reputation for its elegant atmosphere and delicious cuisine. Unfortunately, the layout of the tables meant that restaurant patrons had to sit incredibly close together – uncomfortably close. As in, I’m sorry my elbow hit you in the head as I tried to twirl my spaghetti with my fork close.
I was lucky enough to be seated directly next to a group of businessmen in flashy suits who had clearly had more than their fair share of drinks. It was difficult to tell if they were celebrating a job well done for one of their own or a general, we need to drink this week away kind of thing. Oh, and I don’t know who the hell George is, but whew! He sure seems bad at his job, and here he makes all that money too. What was upper management thinking!?
This domino effect of people struggling to hear over one another began with this table of drunken men and spread through the place like an obnoxious plague. My head was spinning, and I felt like I was a part of twelve different conversations that I had absolutely no desire to be included in. From the top picks for this year’s NFL draft to a heated argument between a young couple over their dog’s bathroom habits, my attention was being pulled from table to table no matter how hard I tried to center myself.
You know what doesn’t help matters? Unnecessarily loud music. I know, right? It seems like common sense, but there you go. Even the most elegant of establishments these days feels the need to recreate the joys of an outdoor concert… with the requisite bad sound equipment. If I wanted to go to a rave, I’d call up one of those friends I had in college who liked to get drunk and “vibe” to trance music.
Loud music only amplifies an already present problem (ha! See what I did there?). It’s one thing for a crowded bar to blast the latest hits at earth-shatteringly high levels, you expect that; but you shouldn’t really have to suffer through an ever-growing cacophony of noise in a place where you’re paying $30 for a damn side salad. Sorry, it just doesn’t scream “fine dining” to me. I can’t be the only one, right? Right!?
Absolutely! I hear you loud and clear.
I love food, as does my wife. It’s our “hobby”, but for me, the occasions where I look forward to enjoying a dining experience at a restaurant are few and far between. Yesterday was my 70th birthday and today is Mother’s Day in Aotearoa New Zealand. We had the intention of celebrating both events either yesterday (Saturday evening) or midday today (Sunday) neither happened.
Being both an Aspie and a migraineur make being in noisy and/or busy environments unpleasant at best, but we have a few dining establishments where there is space between tables (2 metres plus) and no background music and I can often psych myself up to look forward to, as you say, “fine dining.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. Instead I’m nursing the precursor of what is likely to be a multi-day migraine, and nursing the disappointment of my wife. I’m not sure which is the most difficult one to manage.
The elimination of “sacred spaces” and of the concept of boundaries (being so ubiquitous for the longest time now) is a travesty of not only logic and good sensibilities, but also of the ethos of integrity.
It’s both amazing and appalling something so counterintuitive is still allowed to continue being the norm in what are supposed to be civilized societies.
Did they not realize that “Blade Runner” and “Soylant Green” were supposed to be cautionary tales, not “DIY How-To” guides?