Thursday, August 21, 2003

Searching for a Quiet Familiar Place and the Death of Conversation

Last evening, a woman I recently met joined me for a drink at a local restaurant. Still being in the "getting to know you" stage, we were not seeking entertainment beyond our conversation. While sitting in the booth we both found it distracting to have "ambient" pop music competing for one another's attention. It is as though the concept of sitting quietly and enjoying one another's company and discourse has become anathema to America's restaurant and bar owners. Or, are we so afraid of being alone with that most human of endeavors – conversation – that we demand to be aurally anesthetized by music that can only be described as "The Wedding March of the Automatons"?

There is hardly anyplace left that one can walk into that allows you to entertain yourself. Sure, the neighborhood bar still exists in some cities with its idiosyncratic regulars and multi-generational "local color" but, regretfully, it is going the way of the Sumatran tiger and the white rhino.


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