Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

January 4, 2009


Still looking for a place that offers good food and tranquility


Nine years ago I began the new millennium by making only one resolution. I resolved to make more room for tranquility in my life. I wanted especially to find a restaurant that offered both good food and a peaceful atmosphere. Sad to say, I am still looking.

The world is a noisy place. Six billion people make a lot of noise. Animals make their share of noise. Up the street from our home is a dog kennel. To live in our neighborhood you must learn to embrace the sound of 40 dogs yelping for their food. You do your best to pretend the barking does not bother you. But it does, so you pray that the kennel will fail and the government will not bail them out.

Long ago I decided not to move. I know enough about life now to realize how things work. If we moved to another place, my next door neighbor would start raising chickens. Pretty soon I would be awakened each day to the cheerful sound of roosters crowing.

Many people thrive on noise. Athletes perform better when the crowd is cheering. The high volume of noise makes the adrenalin flow. But once the game is over, surely most of us wish for a quiet place to recover and regain our senses.

If serenity is not available in the neighborhood, and we are worn out by the noise of the stadium, then surely we can find it in a good restaurant somewhere. There ought to be a place where you can eat a good meal in peace and quiet. If there is one, I have not found it yet.

Consider, for example, the steak houses. You are tired of eating leftovers and you want to take the wife out and buy a nice steak. Well, surprise, surprise. Most any place you go, the noise level is unbelievable.

I have my own black list of places not to go. One of the most popular steak places made my list for two reasons. First, I like to see what I am eating, and second, I enjoy talking to the people at my table. Neither is possible at this expensive steak place. Admittedly, they serve good steaks but they insist that you eat in the dark and the music is so loud you cannot hear yourself think. Evidently the environment is not important to many people because these steak houses are always crowded.

My search for a quiet place led me to another popular steak house. Again the food was superb and the lights were turned on. I could see my food. But the sound of country music killed my appetite. My eardrums were begging for mercy. Everybody in the place must have been deaf.

You know, of course, that it is a waste of time to ask your waitress to turn the volume down. The answer is always, “Sure, no problem,” but the volume remains the same. Finally I figured out why. The waitress laughs to herself as she walks away. In the back she says to another waitress, “I have another old goat who thinks I am going to turn the music down!”

Is it too much to expect a little peace and quiet if you having to pay fifty dollars for two good steaks? I don’t think so, As for the music, you may have noticed that nobody ever asks what kind of music you prefer. Why not allow the customers to have some choice in the selection of music? We could even vote on it.

There are some restaurants that play no music. But they still love noise.

If my wife and I are seated in a nice little corner, six feet away there will be a family of 18 cackling loud-mouths celebrating grandma’s 88th birthday. Eventually ten waitresses will gather around and scream some rendition of “Happy Birthday” even though none of them can carry a tune in a bucket. Listening to that does not help you digest your food.

Well, a new year has arrived and my search will go on. For whatever time I have left I will continue to look for a place that will serve a good meal along with some peace and tranquility. That is my one resolution for the 2009.

I have to go now. My wife is calling me to supper and our kind of music is playing softly. Maybe I have already found the place I am looking for. It is a place called home but right now it is not all that serene. Tranquility will have to wait. I want to watch the ball game. + + +