Since becoming parents, our restaurant adventures have been drastically reduced in number -- particularly those of the "dine in" variety. Now that our little one is 2 years old, we're trying our luck at taking her out for dinner every once in a while. In doing so, we've discovered why chain restaurants serving bland fare are so popular: you always know what you're going to get, and young children will actually eat it. But I digress...
Tonight, we needed to run an errand immediately after work, destroying any hopes for a home-cooked meal that could be prepared and eaten within the little one's tight schedule. Trying to push that schedule back always ends in disaster. That would be the "so tired I'm going to cry about everything that even slightly varies from my usual routine" kind of disaster, which inevitably leads to the "what the hell were we thinking" moment of revelation once she's fallen asleep. We decided that our best bet was the local Ruby Tuesday, as we know the little one likes their grilled cheese sandwich and there's the bonus of edamame on the salad bar (she could eat her own weight in that stuff). And I have to admit, since they recently changed their look and menu (see the link), the place isn't half bad for a chain restaurant.
We arrived, were seated immediately, and things moved quickly enough that there was no down time for someone to get all fidgety. Edamame was consumed at an incredible rate, and our meals arrived at the table quickly. It was the model meal for a family with a toddler. And then it happened...
Some incredibly self-important prick with no internal filter to keep him from spouting endless story after boring story about himself, spoken at a volume loud enough for people to hear in the neighboring counties, began to drone on and on to his unsuspecting dinner companion about nothing of consequence, whatsoever. I looked over at their table at one point, and Mr. Wonderful wasn't even looking at his friend, who appeared to have slipped into a catatonic state, judging from the blank stare on his face. For a moment, I thought the poor guy was going to start drooling. His jaw had gone slack and the glaze over his eyes made me think of doughnuts. But Yappy McChowderhead just kept on going like an insurance salesman with a bullhorn.
And then it all came back to me. Since we first started dating, this same thing has happened to us pretty much every time we've gone out for dinner. Is this really a widespread problem, or do these assholes just lay in wait for us, then pounce and request the table next to ours?
I actually have a great way to deal with people like that, but I'm not quite brash enough to do it a lot. I have, on a handful of occasions like this, exclaimed in an equally loud and obnoxious voice, "OH, DON'T GET ME STARTED ON ANAL WARTS." It does the trick every time. But now, we have a small child and live in a small town. I don't need my daughter asking me what anal warts are, and I don't need to establish a reputation as "that guy who apparently has warts on his butt and was talking about it in a restaurant."
So I'm asking you, gentle readers, for suggestions about how to handle such a situation. I'm content to let them be as long as I can tune out the conversation, but tonight I couldn't even maintain my train of thought, the guy was so loud. What do you do when faced with such a conundrum, or what successful tactics have you observed? Please share your thoughts in the comments, and thank you ahead of time for what I'm sure will be an entertaining and helpful read.