Here’s what I’ll do – and say – when I’m a little more courageous…
“Excuse me, may I have everyone’s attention,” I’ll begin, standing up by the edge of our table in the crowded, noisy restaurant. My voice will be calm, but authoritative. “It would really help me if everyone would talk softly. Please use your indoor, bedroom voices. You see, I have a traumatic brain injury and am very sensitive to loud noises, especially when they’re coming at me from several directions. And tables. All your yelling and loud, cackling laughter is really hurting my head. Plus, if everyone would speak softly, it would change the entire ambiance and make this dining experience so much more pleasurable for each and every one of us. Really, it would. I swear. And please, for the love of God, would the person in charge of this restaurant turn down the damn music so we don’t have to shout to be heard over it.
“Thank you, please return to your meals. I recommend the salmon.”
Ah, the Cascade Effect. It happens all the time in restaurants, and ruins what would otherwise be a pleasant – and possibly even romantic – dining experience.
It happened again recently. It was a Thursday night, and Susan and I went to an Italian place. It was packed.
“It’s a suicide mission,” I told Susan, knowing what was coming.
Sure enough, we were seated next to a table of 11. Eleven people! They were at a long, narrow table, and for some reason the people at either end of the table needed to talk – I mean shout – at one another for pretty much the entire meal.
Susan seemed to be talking to me. I could tell because her lips were moving.
“What, I can’t hear you. What?”
She spoke a little louder.
And, to be heard over the table of 11, so did everyone else sitting around them. And then, everyone sitting around the people sitting around the table of 11 spoke even louder so they could hear the person sitting across the table from them, and so on until it sounded like we were at a basketball game. The noise increased exponentially in concentric circles. And then there was the music. Frank Sinatra singing too loudly about strangers in the night and how someone had gotten under his skin or maybe he’d gotten under their skin or…
Enough already with all the skin and the noise!
“I’m putting in my ear plugs,” I told Susan. “Text me if you want to talk. Enjoy your meal.”
PS: Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. I think we’ll eat at home.