The last few times that Chris and I have gone out to eat (whether at a nice restaurant or a quick happy hour), the party sitting next to us has been obnoxious. Usually what happens is we are sitting there enjoying our dinner and partway through a new party sits next to us. At first it is fine. It is like a blind date, you are not sure what to expect. Will they be soft-spoken or annoy the crap out of you?
Lately, they have annoyed the crap out of me. Mostly when they are loud. I do not need to hear your life story. For example, just before the New Year, we went out to one of our favorite restaurants and partway through a man and woman came and sat right next to us (yet there were other open tables). The woman was obnoxious (to say the least). We could not help but listen to their conversation as it was so loud we could barely hear each other talk. I thought it was the strangest date. She seemed much older than the man she was with and he kept saying, “No, eat what you want. I am not hungry.” Which made me think maybe he could not afford dinner? At the very last minutes before they leave we learn that he is the son, and she is the mom. Wow. Very shocked after hearing so much of their conversation, and yet putting all the pieces together it actually made sense.
Another time, a few months ago, we had an amazing night out. The food was great, but the group that sat next to us near the end of the meal was beyond rude. Gratefully, we were almost done with dessert and, as soon as we could pay, we got the hell out of there. If they had not shown up we might have stayed a while longer. We did not let it ruin our evening, but I sure cannot forget the high-pitched sound of that woman on her birthday.
I do often wonder how much self-knowledge people have about themselves. I know at times alcohol can play a part in the volume of someone’s voice, yet sometimes I think that people are just all around obnoxious. They have no knowledge that they are yelling and that other restaurant guests around them are giving them death looks. The hard part for me is that all I want to do is go off on them, but what good would that do? If I was not so frustrated I might actually say with poise: “Could you keep it down, I am sitting two feet from my husband and I cannot hear him, yet I know all about the amount of wine you drank at your book club last night and how much your friend hates his brother. However, I cannot hear my husband as we brainstorm about redoing our backyard.”
If we could only be more aware of our surroundings, those around us, and how we show up in the world. Ah, what we learn from the parties that sit next to us in a restaurant… never a dull moment.
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