It's a rough world out there. There's war, famine, hate, and The Golden Girls isn't available streaming anywhere. But to listen to most millennials – yeah, I'm turning curmudgeon and putting it on us, millennials – there's a far more sinister scourge in the world, threatening to invade and destroy our livelihoods, or at least our fancy-ass dinners: children.
Everyone seems to have a story about being subjected to the cries of someone's ugly kid while we're trying to enjoy an upscale meal somewhere. It invokes a sense of righteousness, especially from the childless: I would never allow my child to act like that. I wouldn't bring my child to someplace this nice. Everyone turns into a high-society dilettante, lifting our handheld spectacles to our eyes and blustering, "Well I never!" This is usually when they insinuate that maybe that shit would fly at the Olive Garden (pfft, $18 for ravioli? Nuh uh), but when you're at a fancy expensive place, having your aristocratic fantasy shattered by the fact that people have offspring is beyond the pale.
To all these people, I love you but honestly, give it a fucking rest already.
When did we all become such entitled assholes? Is it because of the MTV? It's probably because of the MTV. Or maybe we've always been prone to bouts of hysterics because a child had the audacity to make noises that children make when we're trying to enjoy our squab or whatever the fuck it is that people spending $200 each on dinner eat so that they can pretend that spending $200 on dinner isn't absurd.
So much of the objection is deeply rooted in classism. Apparently, if you can only afford to eat at the Olive Garden for your best date nights, you deserve what you get – maybe you should have made more money or stayed home if you didn't want to deal with children being children. There's a certain arrogance that informs the idea that dinner at a place like Alinea is somehow sacrosanct and to be held in highest regard, but people at Chili's haven't earned a meal in peace.
If your demand for quiet is based on the amount of money you're spending on dinner, you're being super classist and also kind of an asshole. As a childless person in my early thirties, do I love the sound of babies crying? Not particularly. But there's a certain point that if you're on the fourth course of your dinner that costs multiple hundreds of dollars, you need to recognize that being able to afford such a dinner should be something of its own reward.
I don't mean to let asshole parents off the hook. Be aware of your surroundings. If it's a crowded restaurant, keep your kid in their seat. If the baby starts screaming, sure, take them to the lobby or outside. Children need to learn situational behavior, which is one of the reasons why you take them to public places where there are other people. But don't let someone harsh your mellow because your child has interrupted their gastronomical splendor by complaining that there aren't french fries on the menu.
So to all the childless adults inconvenienced by children on their special night, if you're eating at Alinea, you're already doing better than most. Quit complaining about the 3% of the time they have to deal with children instead of thanking the stars and birth control for the other 97%. You just need to stop it. At least children have an excuse for acting like children.
Joshua David can be found on Twitter at @joshuaadavidd.
Image via Dustin Iskandar.