Three taboos at local restaurant

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Everything is going according to plan. You arrive at the restaurant and, although it is filled with the lunch time crowd, claim a nice table in the section of your choice. The wait is short and the waitress keeps your glass filled with a smile. Life could not be better. Until your conversation is interrupted by the inevitable.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner conversations often fall victim to three standards of a crowded restaurant. It can be considered a good outing if you only cross paths with one or two of these standards, but a combination of all three can be devastating. What are these three elements of lunch time destruction you say? Allow me to explain.

Dinner conversation always encounters mass distraction in a crowded restaurant. Unless the rapport is intense, then something will interrupt during the course the night. I have only found three constants during my time in various restaurants.

The crying baby: Although I am a single man without children, I do hold a bit of sympathy and understanding for parents who have to contend with their child in a restaurant. I have watched in amazement as a father sat paralyzed with horror at the spectacle of his son smearing mash potatoes in his hair. I have seen a mother sink in defeat as her daughter screams for chocolate at the beginning of the meal. Trust me - my ears and my sanity feel your pain, but a line does exist between acceptable and excessive. A crying baby is fine. Babies cry - it's natural. However, mothers should not let their children scream at the top of their lungs for the full length of the meal. Sometimes I feel the urge to console the child on my own since his or her parents do not seem to care.

The obnoxious laugh: A good laugh will brighten anyone's day and sometimes laughter is just what the doctor ordered. I have spent my fair share of time cutting up in the restaurant with my friends, but the true element of this standard is the laugh itself. Laughing is one thing - snorting and cackling is another. The "obnoxious laugh" can sometimes lighten up the lunch time groove. The occasional snorting cackle can break up the monotony. Things do not seem to get annoying until the laughter gets loud. You have seen this person in the restaurant before. He or she laughs with his or her whole body. They lean back in the chair, throw head back and open their mouth wide. It doesn't even matter if the joke was funny. They will laugh long and hard if anything remotely amusing occurs.

The loud conversation: Time at a restaurant is not the same when

you are alone. It doesn't matter if it is fast food or five star - going out to eat is always more entertaining when you have company. It is all about the conversation. Friends catch up on old times, lovers learn more about one another and families share a bit of quality time at the "dinner table." Restaurants and conversations go hand in hand. Here is where things get a bit messy. Two people have finished their meal and begin a bit of friendly conversation. We have all seen this before. Two guys laid back in their chair with a toothpick in their mouth. The volume of their conversation covers the entire restaurant. The "loud conversation" is omnipresent.

These three standards are sure to be found in any crowded restaurant setting. If you can think of any other strange coincidences, then give me a buzz. I am sure some were skipped over. Now, how about some lunch?