Last night Marie and I, on the-spur-of-the-moment, decided to go out and eat at Frankies in Carroll Gardens.
We’d been there a few times, the food was nice and the restaurant has quite a good reputation. It’s a twenty-something minute walk from home and upon arriving, we were pleasantly surprised to be told there would be a five minute wait. Up until that point, it had been a good idea.
I’d had a rough day though and was le-tired. I leaned against the wall in a narrow space along the bar that serves as a waiting area. Even like that, people walking past me had trouble squeezing through. I know of very few joints with less usable space. Then we were escorted to our table. Our host had to point to it and let us work our way there because there was no room for him. We were assigned a table-for-two in a row of other tables-for-two against the wall. To my right, a slight gap so that wall-side patrons (Marie in our case) could sneak into their hole, coats threatening to dip into the plates of the next table. To my left, the row, so tight I was actually much closer to my neighbor than I was to Marie across the table. Talk about an absolute lack of privacy and a romantic mood killer.
Sitting down was an acrobatic maneuver more complicated than settling into the left seat of a Piper Arrow PA-28 from the right wing doorI could not pull my chair back to sit down normally as it was wedged into our vital space by the row of tables-for-two behind it. I had to use an acrobatic maneuver more complicated than settling into the left seat of a Piper Arrow PA-28 from the right wing door. Once seated, my stomach almost touched the table. If I had become careless and lifted my left elbow, I would have hit my table-for-two neighbor, a women I never looked at and who was already shrieking to her female date.
Marie and I looked at each other. My grumpiness had instantly gone up two notches and appetite was receding. This is the worst way to start a dinner. We began studying our menus which despite being familiar, were nearly unreadable in the dim light. I tried to communicate with Marie and was met with a look of incomprehension. At that moment I realized the ambient noise level was so incredibly high that we could not hear each other without leaning forward and screaming like monkeys.
We looked around us and shrank a little in our seats. Music was playing loud, Brooklynites were shouting at the top of their lungs and laughing even louder, someone behind the bar was systematically clashing plates together, it was utter chaos. To fit in and have a conversation, we would have had to tune into the shrieking. Unfortunately, neither of us is able to. We can talk in cat voices, we fake funny accents, Marie can sing like a diva, but we can’t shriek.
I never really saw the waiter’s face because he had to squeeze in to our level but stood slightly above and behind me, so when I looked up I peered up his nostrilsAnd on top of that I do not wear a beard. We truly did not fit in.
The waiter took our orders, after explaining the specials of the day. I never really saw his face because he had to squeeze in to our level but stood slightly above and behind me, so when I looked up I peered up his nostrils. A martini strong, I braced myself. It was going to be a long night.
And it was. Luckily, I had the best company ever. Otherwise I would have just left.
The food, well, it was quite nice. But had it been extraordinary, we would not have noticed because of the environment. Rows of hipsters shrieked. Beards collected bits of food. They were all alike, socially cloned into anonymous replicas of each other. They wore the same shoes, the same shirts, the same haircut. They used the same words. They seemed to thrive in the chaos they caused. Shrieking would reach a paroxysm, then weaken for a few minutes; we would catch our breaths and exchange a few much needed words, then it would all peak again. Our throats grew sore.
I kept thinking about a Boris Vian scene. Coming back from the bathroom, I shouted to Marie that we should go eat in there. We would have enjoyed more space and better lighting. We laughed, adding to the roar. One can only hold back for so long.
After dinner, the streets were cold and the air crisp and beautifully silent. No horn nor siren could have bothered us at that point, we were above it all.
It was, like, what-ever!