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Dining Outside: A Conundrum

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by Kyle Barry

Have you ever sat down and eaten a meal with your sunglasses on? You feel somewhat like a celebrity.  And because most celebrities are idiots…I’ll let you work your way through that maze to find the cheese.  I am not a fan of sitting outside at food establishments to eat. Some people that are a part of my life are very much for this idea. The gentle breeze of the dusk air. The gorgeous sunset on the lake. The peaceful bliss of another summer day ending.  Maybe if you live in upstate New York on Lake George or something.  Not so much if you live in Chicago.

Here we have fire engines and ambulances barreling down the street every 10 minutes. We have Honda Civic drivers with loud stereos and 24 inch “rims” making a public case for their moronic ways.  We have 80 ton dump trucks spewing black cancer out of their exhaust stacks all over my burger.  I hope I’m painting a vivid enough picture for you.  That gentle breeze picks up every once in a while and then I have sandy beer. The scorching sun at brunch is enough to reheat my pancakes which now have gnats caught in the syrup.  Delectable.  I especially like the outdoor seating with the wrought iron table and chairs that leave grill marks on my butt. Feels fantastic.

There’s a time in mid to late spring when every restaurant here begins setting up their outdoor patios with chairs and little tables and big umbrellas that have “Corona” written all over them.  People start coming out of the woodwork in 50 degree weather because they can finally eat outside. I love driving by seeing people freeze to death eating their food miserable just to say they ate outside.  Sometimes there are those days when the sun comes out and says, “I hate everyone outside. You will all pay.”  Yet even on these days, folks are practically passing out from heat exhaustion stuffing their faces while sitting on metal furniture.

If you think about it, there really are only two scenarios that are appropriate for eating outdoors:

1. 4th of July – Burgers, dogs, beer, potato salad, fireworks, beer and  red, white and blue cupcakes. I shouldn’t even need to write that one out for you.

2. Ballgames – Pretty much the same food from above and depending on your team, fireworks may also be included. (Unless you’re a Tampa Bay Rays fan.)

Other than that, you’re making a huge mistake.

Willis ain't pitting out that suit. I tip my cap to you sir.

So once upon a time there was this dude named Willis Carrier.  Willis probably shared the same feelings of rage that I do when he was eating outside. Of course, Willis was born in 1876 so he didn’t have air conditioning. He had to sweat his cheeks off inside and outside. So he invented the first large-scale electric air conditioning machine.  Willis is a good dude.  All of this to say, guess what? Air conditioning only exists inside. So does central heating. Chances are it’s nicer inside than it is out. We’ve come a long way from burning/freezing outside in the elements. Let’s rethink this.

My final little say on the matter is more of a story. I was looking for a place to eat today and there’s this nice little sandwich place around the corner. I walk by it all the time but have never been in.  They have your standard outdoor seating, right on the street where you can see, hear and smell all of the traffic. I considered it for a second but kept walking. Next was a Subway. Nothing special but cheap and reliable. I walk in and come to find out, it’s buy one get one free sub day. I now have dinner accounted for and it would never have happened if I had sat outside to eat.  Chew on that nugget of thought-provoking storytelling.