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At Restaurants This Summer, Don’t You Dare Ask If We Can Get A Table To Eat Outside

Dining outside remains an inexplicable source of joy for some people. Count me out of eating with the heat, bugs, and irksome wind.

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Temperatures across America have broken 69 degrees, so for an unforgivable portion of the population that means suggesting at any and every opportunity to dine outdoors. That’s fine, just don’t ask me to join you.

It’s truly the eighth World Wonder that eating outside remains a thing that some people claim to enjoy. Man mastered human comfort with indoor climate control, tables, chairs, and disinfectants. Yet there persists a group of men and women (mostly women, honestly) who see romance in consuming meals while perspiring in the heat, shielding their vision from the sun and playing a chess-like game with the utensils and napkins to manage an irksome breeze.

Fascinating. Have a good time, sweaty. I’ll be inside where I can relax without swatting away winged intruders, moving items on the table around to keep things from blowing away, and using my hand to manufacture shade so I can see.

While running one recent late morning along the Potomac waterfront, I witnessed a shocking display— a fine couple seated with platters of myriad finger foods. It was nearly 80 degrees, with several fashionable restaurants nearby, but the pair chose to sit on the ground. To accommodate themselves, if you can describe it that way, they brought a blanket and tableware, but they had no seats, their poor backs surely aching as furiously as their brows were beading.

I averted my gaze out of fear of having a panic attack. There’s no convincing me they were having a good time.

One of them had the miserable idea of doing the hard and time-consuming labor of packing food, cutlery, and whatever else was needed for a sun-baked ordeal away from their homes, seated atop the dirt and grass. The other person presumably consented to join. (I didn’t think to engage in a wellness check.) When the earthen torture was over, they would begin the dreadful process of packing it all up to lug back home.

No, thanks! Table for one, and I’ll take a booth if it’s available.

The outside horror meal isn’t much improved at an actual restaurant. All of the aforementioned problems apply, except with the improvement of proper seating. Invariably, though, the outdoor furniture is far inferior to the comforts available inside. It’s usually metallic, perhaps rusted, with no cushioning. Get those napkins and coasters ready to stabilize the wobbly tables and rickety chairs.

Don’t get me started on that little Italian term outdoor dining enthusiasts use to make their primitive, sticky preference sound sophisticated. Al fresco? Alfresc-hell no.

It’s wildly rude to even ask if a dining companion would prefer to sit outside. “Do you have a preference?” is agreeable, but to imply there’s a right answer with a question like, “Would you mind if we sat outside?” or, “Should we sit outside?” is abhorrent. It puts the companion in the awkward position of having to explain why he’d rather not spend an hour with sweat rolling down his back, shifting around in a cast iron trap while trying to feed himself.

Catch me inside. How ’bout that?

I know there are some days throughout the year or even locations around the country where sitting outside is more bearable. Still, so long as you’re with me, no. Let’s have a nice time inside, where it’s as cool or warm as we would like, where the sun isn’t generating a distracting, painful glare, and the dirt and bugs aren’t encroaching on my plate.

I’ll be happy, and I promise so will you.


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