A friend of mine asked a question not too long ago. Why do women choose to wait for at a table in a restaurant rather than grabbing a stool and sitting by the establishment's bar and ordering food from the bartender. She tried it and loved it, as it gave her a new perspective. Guys, according to her- do it all the time. I was reminded of this question as bars, restaurants and anything with a big screen TV were when many Americans spent their Sunday evening. It was the Superbowl weekend. As I was out grocery shopping earlier that day and then grabbed a sandwich I can attest to the fact that wherever everyone else was it wasn't the usually busy Publix supermarket and Firehouse Subs. Whether you're a fan of the sport (which I still don't get) or just watch it for the most extravagant commercials of the year or the pop event of a half time show, chances are if you are in America you opted to join with crowds all across the nation to eat bar food, grab a slice of pizza, drink beer and cheer. Many of my friends do it at actual bars. And I don't know about women- I'd say that avoiding unwanted advances from men definitely contributes to it, but I can tell you why I opt for a table experience while not being keen on fighting off hordes of people trying to order as I eat. And no, it's not only because a bar is often too high to eat anything off if you're in a wheelchair. I've been known to order corn nuggets or tofu squares but that's to share with friends around me and yes, it's sometimes hard to reach. If I go to a restaurant and order a pricier meal I like the experience that goes with it. That means taking my time to chew and having my space- either by myself or those who join me. For those few moments I'd like to be separated in a way from the rest of the room. It doesn't mean that I'm unfriendly or will be unkind to anybody that walks by to say hello, but I don't encourage a full conversation while I try to fish things out of my plate either. This is also the moment that I can talk without yelling with those I'm having a dinner with. When- after the meal- we head to the bar for a little drink- the conversation is harder and the bar is louder. And then we invite the whole world in, and that's fine too, but it's more like a dessert. For me fine dining is an experience. And that experience requires time, mood and is a ritual. If I wanted a quick meal when I swallow things whole, I'd go to McDonald's. I suspect a lot of people feel the same way. I also am not to keen on people watching me eat. Those who have business lunches with me notice that I rarely chew anything as we talk. I catch up when they look away or excuse themselves. It's not for public viewing. Also, to be quite honest- food smells. And that's probably not too appealing when you just had a meal. A friend of mine would meet us at a late night bar and then devour a full course dinner with ribs and broccoli. She'd be the only one eating as we were next to her drinking. It really wasn't fun. Also, bars get busy. If there's a special people line up, shove and push to get through any opening to get to a bartender and order. I know I wouldn't like crowds pressing on me to get through me. Also, typically if you're just one or two people the wait is never that long, although you might get one of those blinking coasters for a few minutes. I eat, I come up to a bar when I'm ready to grab a drink and socialize. And that's also something I look forward to. If you asked me why I- a guy no less- don't like ordering food and consuming at the bar, I'd say first and foremost for the elevated experience before and after and to not disturb others with the dirty, smelly food.
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