December 17, 2014

Relaxing Lunch

The Golden Rule of French restaurant dining is to never make noise above a whisper. The silence is such that, in a brasserie filled with diners, a blind person would feel himself alone, were it not for the clinking of silverware on a plate. This presents myriad challenges for Americans; we are in the decibel business. But, now that we have been here a year, we are trying to adapt.

Thus, on Saturday, on the sidewalk in front of the pizzeria, I had a long conversation with my oldest son. In French, I told him all the rules of being sage at the table: no crying, no whining, no yelling, staying with his fanny on his chair, and, of course, no playing with his silverware. He followed the conversation beautifully, filling in some of the blanks for me ("no shouting!") and concluded with, "Je t'entends, Papa." I hear you, Dad.

In we went. A solo woman occupied one table and a couple with a 10 year old boy occupied a second. Other than that, the restaurant was empty. The noise level hovered between a funeral and a monk's bedroom. 

We were seated next to the family, and as I strapped the baby into his high chair, my wife moved to get Luke into his chair. While Archie and I battled over the tightness of his security belt, I heard a few, "Luke, no, please sit down, Luke what did we say?" from my wife's side of the table. And then an audible gasp of pain and surprise. 

My wife's hand was covering her left eye, her other hand locked around Luke's wrist. He was wielding a fork. "Are you ok?" I quickly asked. She removed her hand and a teardrop of blood bubbled up a quarter inch below her eyeball, a whisker from her cornea and general rods and cones mayhem. 

The family next to us cast one or two appalled looks in our direction. I had not yet removed my coat.

"What happened," I asked my son, "to 'je t'entends, Papa?'"

Luckily no permanent damage. We managed to keep the noise to an acceptable level the rest of our stay and had a nice lunch as a family. We thought it only fair, however, that Luke pick up the tab.

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