There really is nothing that compares to a nice quiet evening spent in a nice quiet restaurant with someone you care for, and enjoying a good meal and conversation.
If you find such a "quiet" place, please call me.
I love to have a dinner out now and then. I also love breakfasts at a few favorite places. But I am a special case. I know, I know, you have thought that for years. You are probably right, but I am talking about another thing altogether. Without hearing aids, I do not hear much at all. Let me be clear - I don't hear anything at all. Even with them, I am hearing only part of the audible spectrum and have great problems in noisy environments, which describes most restaurants.
Don't get me wrong. I am quite thankful for the instruments. Without them, I would be entirely left out of normal social activity. As it is, I don't get half of what's being said, even in a quiet group. Add the usual cacophony of restaurant ambient noise and I can't sift through it enough to hear my dining partner well enough to have an intelligent conversation.
Many people who have more or less normal hearing say they have similar issues in similar situations. Why, then, is this a persistent problem? Forgive me if I venture an opinion. It's either callus disregard for the customer experience or plain ignorance.
For instance: if there were some noise dampening treatments on the floors, walls and ceilings, the noise would be reduced to a tolerable level in most situations. One of my favorite places, Stones, over in North Yarmouth is the "liveliest" room on the planet. You drop your "ticket" on the floor and it sounds like an anvil falling through the roof. The Freeport Cafe is another example. I love that place but when it is full it is nearly impossible to place your order without shouting. Tin ceilings, hard floors and nothing at all in place to dampen sound.
There are places that when you go there you expect to be assaulted by deafening noise. Irish bars, sports bars, juke joints and Texas beer parlors. Places for adolescents to behave like adolescents. Ye, Ha!
I walked into a place in Camden some years ago and there was immediately a wave of quietness that washed over me as I walked into the room. I think the place was called Swan's Way. I had to wonder if Marcel Proust would have been comfortable there. There was a Willy Nelson CD playing softly and it was deliciously quiet. The tone was set by the decor and music. I feel certain that if four hockey pucks came in and began shouting and slamming fists down on the table someone would have suggested they find another place to have dinner.
Obviously this is my problem. But quite often other people with normal hearing say similar things about their experiences in restaurants and other places. There seems to be a premium on noise. The more noise the more lively things are. It's normal. I can't argue with that. But is it better? I think not.
If things keep on the way they are going and I live long enough, it won't make any difference, as far as I am concerned. I won't be able to hear a damned thing. Hearing loss is a progressive condition. Total silence. There has to be an up-side to that.