Friday, September 10, 2010


Can you believe I couldn't use my taste for avid blogging to get extensions on homework due dates? What is the world coming to? Anyway, to you my faithful readers I apologize for my lack of bloggage. The bright side is that I have had much time to converse with my friends and come up with today's topic: The Booth-Ache.

What do I mean by the Booth-Ache? I mean when you go out for a meal with someone and there is always that awkward moment of deciding who sits on which side of the booth, who gets to face the room, if there is a booth on one side and a chair on the other, can you sit on the same side, etc. The fact of the matter is we live in a square society. There are always tables, angles, corners, which unfortunately means you tend to find yourself choosing between one side or the other. For some people, this is not an issue. For others, the ultimate issue. How to cope with a booth-ache? Here are some general ideas for the different scenarios.

Scenario 1: The Great Debate
--We've all been there. You know, you arrive at the restaurant and one seat faces the room while the other is facing elsewhere. The general conversation in this case might go something like this:
Person A: Do you care which side?
Person B: No, whichever side you want is fine with me.

This leaves Person A in quite the pickle sometimes, because generally most people prefer to face the room. Normally I just acquiesce to Person B's kindness and take whichever side I want (depending on the date this may or may not be the seat closest to the nearest exit...). But then I dated a guy who had a pet peeve about not facing the room in a restaurant. He needed to be the one facing the room (or at least he needed more stimulation than my company). So, after dating this person, I made a rule for myself: Be Person A and do not ask "Do you care which side?" but rather ask "Do you have a preference and/or complex about where you sit?" This leaves it open for the Person B to say "Why yes."

Scenario 2: Sitting on the Same Side
--Do or don't? Personally I say don't. I like to look at a person when I am out with them. Not to mention it is world-class personal space bubble invasion to sit on the same side. And if you are right-handed and the other person is left-handed it can create the kind of elbow-rubbing they don't talk about at cocktail parties. Unless the booth is shaped in such a way that you end up side by side, I think being across from one another facilitates a better atmosphere for conversation. Not to mention it makes it easier to reach across the table and pick at the other person's entree. But that's a post for another time...

Scenario 3: Table with Booth Seating on One Side
--Many of these trendy restaurants have a booth-bench thingy on one side of a table and a chair on the other. This situation eliminates any possibility of sitting on the same side because the table is usually the size of a bathroom tile. You have to sit across from the other person in order to fit your food in front of you. My personal problem in this scenario is blatant selfishness because I want a place to put my purse. If I take the booth side of the table, not only am I comfortable, but my purse is as well. Ladies, we've ALL been there. This is not to say that a few times I have tried to be a better date and give the guy the booth side (admittedly they were nights when I carried a wristlet as opposed to a purse..). Gentlemen, typically it is easier to give the girl the benefit of the booth in this case, unless you too are carrying a purse. Also a post for another time...

The point ladies and gents is that there is always a minor stress factor as to who sits where when dining. I have received several bits of advice on the matter and here are the choice pearls:

--Guy Should Face the Room
Typically the male will be paying for the meal, so it is better for him to sit facing the room. This way he can flag down the waiter easier and is not constantly looking over his shoulder if something is needed.

--Sitting on the Same Side CAN Be Done Well
Usually at a breakfast/brunch/lunch scenario. Meals during these times are typically smaller than dinner and do not include wine or other such beverages (well....most of the time....). If you're really married to sitting side by side, sit at the bar.

--If You Have Trouble Focusing...
I am a total people-watcher. I often attempt to sit on the side not facing the room so that I can really pay attention to what's going on during the meal. More often I will try and find a booth/table that is against a wall so I can look to my right or left and see things happening. Nice compromise in the situation.

--If At All Possible...
Go King Arthur style and check for round tables. This way you can have proximity to whoever you are with and BOTH of you get to enjoy the aesthetics of your surroundings. If you know where you are going ahead of time see if you can visit the place's website and look for a layout (can you tell I'm often bored at work?).

Hopefully these were some helpful hints in finding comfortable seating in your next meal-out venture. Just make sure no matter where you end up sitting that wine glass and/or food spillage is prevented at all costs. Happy Monday!