The End of Dinner
Occasionally I like to treat myself and go out for lunch, or perhaps a light dinner on my way home from work. Whenever I am in a noisy restaurant, I find myself wondering what conversation must have been like in a lovely dining room during, say, the Edwardian era. I often think I would like to transport myself into the painting on this post, and join in the conversations these folks are having. I think they must be discussing all sorts of interesting topics, all the while being witty and charming.
The other afternoon I visited my favorite Japanese restaurant not far from my home. The restaurant has a wonderful ambience, delicious food, superb service, and soft traditional Japanese music playing in the background. Everything about it is perfect. But the day I was there, I was seated not far from a table of young women in their early twenties. There was one woman in particular who never stopped talking, I was watching to see if she was even able to breathe, she prattled on so much -- about nothing. And of course, she had to speak loudly enough so that not only everyone at her table heard her, but everyone else in the restaurant. It gave me such a headache, I had to leave.
Has anyone else noticed lately that people seem to be getting louder? No one listens anymore, they talk more, but they say less. It's just babble to fill the air. People seem to be losing the gift of making conversation. I think conversation should be speaking with someone, rather than "talking at" them, but I have noticed that conversation now seems to consist of someone jabbering away at people, rather than engaging them in a to-and-fro exchange of thoughts and ideas. We are held captive by the rapid-fire talker, who spews words at us like bullets from a machine gun, and there's no escape. Any attempt to engage them in conversation with us is futile, because -- they're not listening.
The young lady in the Japanese restaurant chattered away at her three companions, completely unaware that they looked like deer caught in the headlights of a car. Do we owe this lost art of conversation to the fact that we are living in a louder society, and we have to talk louder in order to be heard? Or perhaps we are so used to watching the "talking heads" on TV that we subconsciously emulate them when we speak with people, and we think we're making conversation.
Ah ... sometimes I love the sounds of silence.