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Monday, April 5, 2010

Screams From An Italian Restaurant

I will start off by saying that ten years ago, I would be guilty of this. Although, I don’t know why. I question it because almost 15 years ago, at the age of 20, I would have been content to mosey into my favorite dark and smoky bar, Hemingway’s, nestled below the dorms of The University of Pittsburgh and just slink into a set of tables, near the back and just hang out. No loud whooping it up. No lined up shots along the bar ready to toss back. Simply a few us, just sitting there, enjoying our drinks and loving life as an unemployed actor, contemplating life after college.

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone I was drinking underage in a bar. Well, it’s not like any famous NFL quarterback, with questionable morals was there buying me drinks… at least because I’m a guy. (I had a whole tangent written involving the joke about keeping a guy’s “you know what” in his wife’s purse. I’ll just skip it.) My point is that, yeah, I went a little nuts when I turned 21 and spent my hard earned pay partying after a long day of working for an Amusement Park in Ohio, still, after that year I retreated back to my cloak of tortured, misunderstood, old, before his time, soul. That was until I graduated college and had to get a real job.

Then it was, “Hey a bunch of friends are going to the local sports bar for wings. Let’s be loud and tell jokes and make lots of noise.” The 21 year old me would have glaringly side-eyed the 25 year old me for being annoying. Still, it was a simple phase that I grew out of before I hit 30. I very rarely drink except for a holiday which may be at most a glass of wine with dinner. However, I like to go and enjoy a good dinner with company. Usually, on Saturday, we join my in-laws for dinner at an Italian restaurant, near our home. It’s a hard place to get into on a Saturday night. They aren’t very big and with a little one it’s easier to get a large booth and let her sit on a booster between my wife and I?

The biggest problem I have with the place is that they always seem to have the loudest and rowdiest bunch of people seated at a long set of tables right up against us. It never fails. It’s hard enough to be able to carry a conversation with my daughter jabbering away but when you have the 50-60 crowd of cackling women and screaming men who all seem to laugh in a simultaneous uproar it becomes nearly impossible.

Whenever we sit down and begin to see the staff pushing the tables together we know what is coming. A group of glammed up cougar wannabes, doused in Old Lady Spice, toting their cocktails from the bar over to the table. Then comes the man and their vodka tonics or whatever and they look like they should be in contracting. Well dressed and slicked up hair, perfect mustaches that would make a 70s porn star cry. They all sit down and begin talking loudly, laughing even louder, constantly making it difficult for us to get out or our server to get in to serve our dinners.

The ears bleed, the eyes water, and the left hand firmly restrains the right one which is wielding a steak knife aimed directly at the temple. Honestly, It is so hard to sit and carry on a civil conversation just below a mild roar and not be annoying? I could understand if we were in a rowdy bar or someplace like a T.G.I.Fridays. But this is a little Italian restaurant with excellent house dressing and low lighting. I’m just trying to enjoy my steak sandwich and I have to put up with the cackling. Even the 25 year old me would be sitting there with the 20 year old wondering, “WTF?” (mandatory use internet slang quota reached for this post.)

Ultimately, we just put up with it, keep our comments under our breath. We finish our meal and we go, awaiting the next week’s offering of the men and ladies of the Aqua Velva and Net set, respectively. It really is a good house dressing. I love the turkey club and the Fra Diavola. I just don’t like all the yelling. I’m grumpy and old now. I’m no longer a tortured soul. I have a family and a mortgage. I’m not an unemployed actor, but I play one on….ok that was too easy of a joke. I’m still misunderstood but that’s because I am the only guy in a household of females. There’s my wife, my daughter, three female cats and one male, but he doesn’t count because he’s fixed. (Here’s where the reprise of the “junk-in-the-wife’s-purse” joke would have come back.) Makes me want to scream sometimes. Perhaps I will over a nice seafood marinara and a piece of bread dipped in the house dressing. You really do have to try it.

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