Looking For A Quiet Place

“I don’t know exactly when I stopped being able to tolerate environments like this,” I yelled to my wife three feet across the table from me, “But it seems recent.”

“I know,” she yelled back, “it’s like somebody flipped a switch and suddenly…”

“I know right!?” I replied as she took the words right out of my head. “I mean, we’re old now right? Maybe this is something that happens to everyone at a certain age…”

I continued, “I just want a place where we can have a nice cocktail or glass of wine and have a conversation at a normal volume. Some soft music or jazz playing below conversation level in the background. I know we don’t go out as much as we did when we were younger but those places don’t seem to exist anymore. Everywhere we go is like this is.”

We were at a recently opened new, hip, cocktail lounge. It was late-ish and they couldn’t seat us in the main section right away so we opted for their speakeasy-esque “dive bar” in the back. Being new we were not quite sure what to expect but almost as soon as we entered we were hit with the realization we had made the wrong choice. It was LOUD. The early 80’s hair band soundtrack was turned to 11 and, thus, all of the young and over-served the bar was full of had to be even louder. The cocktails were mediocre at best (I suppose this also might be by design to give it a “dive bar” feel). Despite every effort to try we couldn’t even find ironic humor in the experience. Our only goal became to finish our overpriced terrible drinks as quickly as possible and leave.

But other people seemed to be enjoying themselves. We’ve recently noticed that this seems to be the norm now. Every place we go — for a beer, for a cocktail, for a nice dinner — is JUST SO LOUD.

But, here’s the thing. This doesn’t seem like a change in all of these places. It feels like a change in me. We’ve been to several places recently and had the same experience. It feels like these sorts of places have always been this loud and what’s changed is my ability to adjust, tolerate, and possibly even enjoy it. But here we are.