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….when the ‘old’ ladies go out to eat

August 2, 2017

Ladies night out has become an American tradition!  Growing up in a small Midwestern town, I don’t think the ladies went out at night… I am not sure anyone went out at night, other than to the local football game, other sporting event, or parent/teacher conferences.

Life seemed to be about survival, survival and getting the ‘kids’ to a better life.  Now maybe in the cities things were different.  I have certainly heard colorful stories about the ladies of Skokie in the 60’s.  At 4pm the martinis came out, and if backyard friends were not available, driving your caddy a few blocks with a martini in hand was normal.  I want to say ‘and a cigarette in the other hand’, but I guess that would not have worked so well when driving!

As a single lady in NYC during the 70’s, ladies nights out were constant!  … but not so much about the eating!  The weekend started on Thursday night and careened relentlessly to a painful, often drunken, end in the wee hours of Sunday morning.. Sunday afternoons were silent events for individual recovery.

Possibly ladies went out in the 80’s, but I had kids… two of them… and although rarely intoxicated, (me rarely, the kids never) the entire decade was spent teetering on the edges of exhaustion and mental health.

By the 90’s (yowsers, these decades just keep going by, I wonder how I am still 39?)  ladies played cards or mahj one night a week.  YES, a night out with ladies, these days the ladies to go a restaurant, but back in the day, we rotated homes… ate enormous amounts of popcorn and chocolate, laughed just to laugh, and sometimes even played the game.  A favorite memory from this time features Aunt Pearl from Colorado, coming to visit, sitting down to play… and clearing the table of all available money in a straight run.  As we sat there with our mouths open, (in part waiting for the next handful of popcorn) she remarked… you ladies do not take this game seriously!

And then came the freedom of a new century… kids grown, a disposable dollar or two… freedom … freedom to spend time with lady friends, to stay out late on a weeknight… late being anytime after 9!

The issue now is scheduling.. finding an evening that the same 4 ladies at available.  I dinner with a group that has discovered Tuesday works..  We dinner/dine… laugh and tell stories… It is an irregular schedule, someone initiates the discussion, a Tuesday is determined, a venue selected and we gather…

Mostly we behave ourselves, although last night I wondered if we were becoming two ‘old’ to dine in company.  Here me out.  We chose a tasty moderately upscale local restaurant central to all.

Our server was inattentive, not actively rude, but dismissive, slow to respond and lacking interpersonal skills.  I asked him if he was having a bad night, and he said he had only just arrived for his shift…. service became marginally better… however this aided our memory that we had enjoyed our food the last time we were at this establishment, but our server had been actively awful.

Then….

OK, generations weigh in on this experience… The table next to us was a bit loud, not obnoxiously or rudely, just a group of 6 or so enjoying their evening.  But of course, there was a toddler… and the hour was getting later, perhaps the toddler was bored of adult talk.  So, the cell phone came out and was tuned to a cartoon or a game, loudly tuned, annoyingly tuned, aggressively tuned.  Tuned to a level interfering with our conversation.

Respectfully, and kindly, (really, yes, respectfully and kindly.. ask my tablemates!) I turned around and asked if the volume could be lowered.  The pushback was immediate and rude, with the adult holding the child wanting to refuse to lower the volume and telling me he couldn’t even hear it..  a bit of back and forth and the volume was reduced.  How is that possible.. Since when did the 30 somethings start to talk back to their elders?  Since when is it acceptable to watch cartoons, etc, at the dinner table?  Since when are children who have been seated too long not taken out of the venue or home to bed?

We still enjoyed our evening… and THEN the waiter shows up with two of the most delicious gift desserts as an apology that we thought him less than interested in our dining experience…

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We were a bit embarrassed, but oh not even a bit too embarrassed to clean those plates. ( I have a great picture, will add later, when I figure out my download.)

Bottom line, have we become too old and crochety to be out in public?  Or have the norms of behavior and service eroded so far that our experience is to be accepted as normal?

What do you think?

 

 

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