Awkward Dining Situations

We've all had them. We sat next to the screaming child with the parent that yells at them or across from the couple who doesn't talk the entire meal, but instead seems to listen to your entire conversation. Or maybe it's you who is causing the awkwardness (milk out the nose anyone?). It's never enjoyable but it's made much worse if it happens while trying to celebrate a special occasion.

We were at one of our favorite restaurants (which is one of the finer restaurants in town), sitting in the bar (which is seat yourself), celebrating our anniversary. Without going into too many details, we overheard in its entirety a fight between a couple sitting less than two feet away from us. From start to finish. From "working it out" and "you don't listen to me" to "I think you should leave" and "I don't want you here." It appeared that both parties were inebriated and didn't seem to mind that we could all hear their business. It was so uncomfortable, and much like a train wreck, we could not look (listen) away. But, it wouldn't have mattered if we had. As we tried to enjoy our celebratory dinner together, we couldn't even have an in-depth conversation as it was drowned out by the arguing. We kept hoping they would leave, so we could enjoy our evening in peace, but they were intent on a public feud it would seem.

Something similar to this has actually happened to us at several of our anniversary dinners. It has become an ongoing joke for us and we've given nicknames to the parties who have made our anniversary dinners less romantic and more awkward (For example, there's the "Nuh-Nuh" guy one year who was mad because the restaurant didn't carry his wine). But, while we are able to joke about it, it is really maddening to have our celebration intruded on by folks who don't seem to have good judgement about how to behave in public.

What has been your most awkward dining experience? What awkward dining experience did you cause? What do you do when your fancy, once a year celebratory dinner has been interrupted by adults who are behaving as children?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Recently I was at the bar of one of my favorite eating establishments with my GF having a serious conversation about our relationship and this couple next to us who appeared to be celebrating some event didn't talk the entire meal, but instead seemed to listen to our entire conversation.

KandN said...

Anon, I have to admit that N and I sometimes enjoy a meal in silence. In our case (to offer other diners a small reassurance) we aren't listening in. More likely, we're replaying some event we experienced during our day or we're making a mental list for the coming day. Your voices, even though you might be close enough to touch elbows with us, are nothing more than background noise.

Amber said...

Anon, Like K, we sometimes enjoy our meals in silence also. Sometimes we are all wrapped up in our own thoughts, which definitely means we aren't listening to our neighbors. My experience that I mentioned above, there was no way to avoid listening in, it was that loud and distracting. Personally, I've got enough on my plate without adding the burdens of everyone else too. :-)

Susan said...

I really think the anonymous comment was meant to be a little bit of comic relief. Personally I chuckled a bit... ;)

Nate Rafn said...

KandN, I agree. When I'm in a restaurant, the voices and conversation seem to drift into the background. Although, having a couple argue next to my table could get annoying, especially at a nice restaurant.

KandN said...

I nearly forgot--last summer, N and I had quite a show next to us in a nice restaurant. A father with 2 teens dined next to us and one of the girls decided to let dad know the other was sneaking out at night. Talk about uncomfortable!

Can Opener Boy said...

In the category of "Awkward moments I can only dream about having the courage to initiate" I remember fondly a writer to Ann Landers telling this story: She was out to dinner with her family and a nearby patron began a loud and lengthy cell phone conversation. After a few minutes, the writer got up, walked over and simply .stood. next to the person, making sure to get within her personal space and made a point of listening to the conversation. The rude cell-phone person paused, looked up and said "Excuse me! This is a private conversation!" WIth all eyes in the restaurant on this interchange, the writer said "Excuse me, no it is not! You are in a public place. If you want to have a private conversation, you need to step outside and let the rest of us dine in peace!"

Oh for the cojones to do something like that! =)

DeeDeeDiner said...

Under cringeworthy dining moments I recall a time when I was in university administration and having lunch at La Capitale with some colleagues. (In my book La Cap is an egregious offender in the tables-being-way-too-close-for private-conversation camp anyway.)

They seated our party of four smack next to one of the professors who was celebrating his birthday by (ahem) having lunch with one of his students. Needless to say their personal conversation was much constrained :-)

Anonymous said...

DDD -- yikes!

When I waitressed at Christo's, I had a customer come up to me and complain that the gentleman at the next table had taken off his shoes and propped his bare feet up on an empty chair. She wanted me to tell him to put his shoes back on because she said his feet smelled badly.

My favorite awkward customers are the two or three misplaced sports fans.... the dudes who end up at a bar that is not playing the game on TV, but sit and loudly discuss or argue their favorite players, teams, bad calls, etc for all to hear. So out of place, and awkward for everyone else! :)

-guitar4me

DeeDeeDiner said...

One particularly awkward (and most personally embarrassing) "event" was at a fancy winemakers at Illahe.

During the course of conversation at a table of 8, kitchen remodeling became the topic---since I was in the middle of just such a process I mentioned a particular local cabinetmaker who does excellent work but is known to be exceptionally difficult to work with and extremely s-l-o-w.

My table "neighbor" said "Oh, he's my brother." Just try and salvage that type of faux pas!!!

Lots of wine was definitely in order...
DDD

Anonymous said...

A few months ago, a friend (who contributes here) and I were in one of our favorite establishments (it's been mentioned) when a certain private university president (now former) and his wife/partner/girlfriend had a very public argument. It was awkward, hilarious and oh-so-inappropriate. It went on and on and on. The woman kept threatening to walk out. I wished she would so I could steal her food. :P