So last night, I decided to go try out a Japanese Steak House not far from here. It's one of those ones where they seat diners around a large grilling surface and the Japanese chef cooks your food at the table. They normally put 8-10 people at a table, so unless you have a group that large, you wind up sitting and eating with people that you've never met before.
Now I normally like that. It's kind of a neat way to pass the time, talking to people I don't know and will probably never see again. I try to frequent these places when I'm traveling just because I like the idea of some light conversation with strangers while eating.
Of course here in banjo country, it's gotta get messed up. I walk in and add myself to the batch of people waiting to be seated. Then I notice that the lobby is filled with kids, mostly between three and ten years of age. I didn't see a sign anywhere about a kid's party, so I'm kind of puzzled as to why this grown-up restaurant has all these kids in it. And as I stand there, I observe that the lobby crowd consists of one young couple, me, and three families, each with 2-3 young kids, about a third of which are high-chair age kids. One little girl, who apparently just got her first watch, is now timing the hostess, who promised to seat us all "in a minute". The precocious little girl is announcing to everyone that "she said a minute...it's been twenty-five seconds now...She's been gone 45 seconds now...it's over a minute now..." and on and on and on, with her parents making no effort to shush her. And I have to wonder what's up with these parents that they seem to think that the rest of us want to sit at a table with and eat with their kids. Who the hell brings little kids to restaurants with common-table seating, knowing that their kid is going to be sitting in a high chair, grossly smearing it's food all over it's face in front of everyone else? Do the parents of "little Miss Big Ben" really think that we want to have each minute dissected for us or want the chef timed on how long it takes him to do his Ginsu knife magic tricks? Kids that age belong in the play area at Burger King, not seated at a table across from grown-ups that chose to come to an otherwise nice restaurant for a relaxing meal. Maybe I'm funny, but my idea of light dinner conversation is to ask visitors to the area what they've seen or where they plan to go next, not ask a first-grader about what they did at recess or hear ad nauseum about Blues Clues or whatever else the current crop of little kids obsess over.
Needless to say, I dined elsewhere last night. Come on, hillbillies...take your damned kids to Pizza Hut, not adult dining establishments.