Clark and I were out for dinner with some good friends this week at a wonderfully quaint Italian restaurant in the city. We had never been there before. Our friends had and it was one of their favorites. With good reason. It was charming and the food was amazing.
It was located on a street lined with hip bars, mom and pop stores and other trendy eateries. It was in a section of the city that had a specific neighborhood feel to it. The bars were filled with young patrons. The trendy restaurants were packed with hungry diners.
We pulled up to our destination. I loved the looks of it! We handed the valet our keys and headed into the restaurant.
As we rushed out of the cold and in through a large door to the warmth, we were hit with the wonderful aroma that is so common to many Italian restaurants. The smell of garlic, freshly baked bread and Italian food wafted through the air. The sounds of ol’ Blue Eyes or some other familiar crooner could be faintly heard over discreetly hidden speakers. It mingled with the loud voices and conversations that filled the room. The place was packed. Pretty much every table was filled and there were people waiting for their names to be called for their reservations.
As the guys walked in behind us, my girlfriend and I were already busy checking out the room for the best possible table to sit at. She and I have been known to point out a table to the maître d’ that we’d like to dine at. Our hubbies (and kids) have gotten used to this. They know that we are particular about where we want to sit.
We followed the hostess to a lovely table that was in the middle of the room. As we got closer, I realized that my girlfriend and I were going to have to squeeze ourselves between the chairs of the surrounding tables to get to our seats. This concerned me. I was wearing my new cape-like poncho! It was fur-trimmed. The fur added so much to it ~ but it also made it bulky. Especially for squeezing in between chairs of busy restaurants.
The hostess politely offered to take our wraps and hang them up for us. How sweet! Tragedy avoided! I handed my fancy new cape to her and did my best not to bump anyone’s chair surrounding me as I slipped into my seat. It was easy to get around Clark’s seat because he was not in it yet. He was already in the bathroom for what would be his first of many trips there.
I was so pleased as I looked over the great menu. So many great choices. I looked around the room. I loved this place! It was crowded. It was bustling!! It was hip and cozy.
It was also very loud. I looked up and noticed that Clark thought it was loud, too. So did our friends. I could tell by the way everyone craned their necks in and turned their ear towards the conversation. Didn’t our parents do this? Wasn’t this a sign that your hearing was not as sharp as it once was? I tried not to think about that. I just craned my neck in the direction of whoever was talking and tried to catch a word here and there.
The busy server made his way to the table. I craned my ear up towards him as he quickly went over the specials. What was that? What did he say? I smiled and nodded and decided just to order off the menu instead. I had asked him a few questions, tried my best to lip read his answers and made my selection.
We ordered some wine and settled into the rhythm of the place. I liked it here!
A little while later I could see our food coming. We were getting hungry! Our waiter set the tray down next to our table. He started passing out the dishes. He put mine in front of me. Looking down at it, my eyebrows furrowed together. Good grief, what was that? It was huge! My girlfriend said it resembled a family size meatloaf. Right there on my plate sat dinner for six.
Our waiter then put her meal in front of her. It was gargantuan, as well. I pointed my ear towards her as she explained to him that he had made a mistake. She told him she did not order that. He assured her that she did.
Clark’s meal was next. Why, his meal was nothing like ours! It was not supersized. His meal was the size of a hockey puck. It was small and compact. He looked at me from across the table and said something. I craned my ear towards him. I thought I heard the word tasty. I smiled and nodded at him.
There was lots of laughter at our table during the meal. There were lengthy, animated conversations. Some of it I caught. Some, I did not. It made me think of dinners out with Clark’s parents before they surrendered to hearing aids. You just knew they did not know what was being said because they just sat there and nodded. Now I was the one nodding. And Clark was nodding.
When did restaurants get so loud? Do the modern design trends and open layouts amplify the noise? Are there any restaurants out there anymore where you can have a conversation without being forced to shout? Do Restauranteurs intentionally create an atmosphere that is “high energy” and loud because it lends a certain appeal and brings in more traffic?
Or, is it simply that we are aging. We are becoming our parents. What once used to be a commentary from the older generation about how loud “this or that” restaurant is, is now becoming my generation’s mantra.
After we were done with our meals, we sat and enjoyed each others company in the overly loud, wonderful space. It was good to be out with these dear friends. Nodding and grinning. And if I was honest, I’d have to admit that the loud atmosphere did add to the spirited energy level of the evening.
What a great night!