Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lunch with Russell

So yesterday I had a pretty heavy workout in the gym, in large part because The Magnificent Seven was on the gym TV so I had to run and ride the bike longer just to watch more of it. I wound up running six miles and I forgot to see how long I rode, but it was a good workout.

So as a treat to myself, I went down to Mario's Pizza in Berryville, VA to have a nice lunch. And it would have been nice too, except for Russell and his family who were also in there.

Now Russell is a little boy in a Cub Scout shirt who is probably ten years old or so. His parents brought him there along with four other little boys about the same age. They stuck Russell and the others at one table and sat by themselves at another, and then proceeded to ignore the brats as they all loudly tried to talk over one another, obviously oblivious to the concept of "indoor voices" v. "outdoor voices". And I got to know Russell on a first-name basis because his mom addressed him by name several times, scolding him for practically everything except of course shouting inside a restaurant.

And shout Russell did. It was impossible to tune out that shrill soprano voice of his, and his four peers weren't much better as they all tried to be heard over each other. They jabbered about video games, and cartoons and a movie or two, and all this time, the two adults who had inflicted these kids on the rest of the diners just sat there and ignored this maelstrom.

Now to be fair, I probably should have said something, but I was really feeling my workout and wasn't all that up to engaging two obviously thoughtless and insensitive people, and I pretty much figured that if I asked the parents to either crank their kids' volume down or take their food to go, there'd be an argument. Normally I'd be all over that, since such arguments are fun for me, particularly when it's clear that I'm right and I could expect at least a bit of support from the other diners, but I passed on the chance, naively hoping that the restaurant staff would say something, or fate would intervene and Russell would choke to death on a piece of his pizza. (He has six slices. His mom was counting and intercepted him when he tried to grab a seventh. And we all heard her explain how he'd reached his limit.)

Fortunately they finished their meal/shouting session and left just about the time that my food came. And as they were walking out, a little girl who'd been sitting at another nearby table walked towards me on her way back from the restroom. So I took the opportunity to rather loudly address her as she approached. "Well hello! Aren't you just the quietest, most well-behaved child?" I then turned to her parents and said just as loudly: "I never even saw her there, she's so quiet."

Russell's mom stopped in her tracks and turned to give me a nasty glare. And I found myself hoping that she'd say something as I returned her stare, because NOW I suddenly felt like playing. But alas, she just turned and followed her flock of screaming monkeys and her milquetoast husband out the door as the mother of the well-behaved girl grinned and whispered "Thank you for saying that."Now I wish that I'd said something earlier. People like Russell's mom really need to be told that they need to either control their kids in public or just keep them home and call Domino's. I'd like to think that she caught the hint but I doubt it. People like that are proud of their obliviousness to others around them. They won't do their part as responsible parents so the rest of us will have to publicly suffer Russell and the other little louts until they mature enough to catch the clue that their parents should have caught at least ten years ago. I could easily see this woman a few years prior, bringing an infant Russell to the movie theater and refusing to take him out when he started crying because she wants to see the movie. In a just world, the rest of us should be empowered to walk up and slap parents like that on the back of the head with no fear of legal consequences. But this is not a just world and parents like that don't feel required to keep their litters of caterwauling spawn in check any more.

Oh--and as much as I generally like Mario's, the wait staff or the owner (who was right there) really needed to step up and suggest to Russell's parents that they simmer their brood down. They might have made one family embarrassed or mad, but I suspect that they'd have gained a lot more support from the rest of us in the dining room.

EDITED TO ADD: This is gratingly reminiscent of my encounter with another band of urchins a couple years ago, notably the infamous "Mitchell".


  1. What?!? You actually sat quietly without confronting the parents?!? Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off of the floor from the shock!! lol. ;)
    I would have SO said some smart-ass comment out loud intended for the parents to definitely hear! hehe!

  2. Yeah, I passed up on an opportunity for a free argument--something that I normally enjoy--just because I was tired and didn't feel like causing a scene in a place where I regularly dine. So it is partially my fault.

    All I can do is pledge to speak up promptly the next time, even if I have to stand up and usurp the parents' role and say: "Yo, Russell! Shut the fuck up, dammit! This ain't no Chuck E. Cheese!"

    Next time...

  3. Anonymous4:32 PM

    Holy Lagniappe. I have no idea how I even found your blog, (maybe it was glocktalk...can't recall), but your blog entries are brilliant. Funny, well written and well...did I mention funny.
    You so need to write a book. I will be first on the list to reserve a copy.

  4. I don't have to do smart-ass comments anymore: I work in public schools.

    I have no hesitation at all at 'confronting' loud and/or ill-behaved kids, as I can barely stop myself from confiscating cell phones from adults in public places!
    "You can have this back at the end of the line!" We discuss this at bar outings: 'Doesn't it bug you that you can't just do XXX?!!!'

    The last time I buttonholed a kid, my demeanor was such that he just plain stopped, and then when his mom or aunt or whatever came up, I explained what I do for a living, and she basically ran away. It was fun.

  5. Anonymous11:32 PM

    I freaking hate kids that act like this.......

    I read somewhere today.......

    “Johnny pick up your room”

    1 hour later, “Johnny pick up your room.”

    4 hours later, “Johnny pick up your room.”

    Next day, “Johnny pick up your room.”

    Next day, “Johnny pick up your room or you’ll be in BIG trouble.”

    Next Day, “Johnny pick up your room, if you know what’s good for you.”

    Next Day, “Johnny pick up your room. I am NOT going to tell you again”

    Next Day, “Johnny that is THE VERY LAST TIME that I am going to pick up your room for you.”


    I am thinking they are those kind of parents... laughs...... glad you made it through

  6. I hate parents like that! If you think they are bad at resturants, you should see them at hospitals! They let their kids swing on the patient lifts in the hospital rooms! Not too mention letting them run through the hallways. We almost clocked one kid with our litter, shame we missed;)

  7. That is such a pet-peeve! Hockey tournaments make me crazy. My kids are expected to respect the other people in the restaurant EVERY TIME. No excuses, 2 strikes you're in the truck, so civilized people can dine with pleasure.
    Then you get some team-mates without a clue that there's anyone else in the room. wtf
    I always end up sorting out a few "other peoples kids"
    and catching some raised eye-brows over it.
    People, raise your kids to be polite, then you won't have to raise your eyebrows at me.

  8. Anonymous12:12 PM

    I call these type kids future residents of the Department of Corrections.