Photo Credit (Smith Collection / Getty Images / September 13, 2011)
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A couple and their baby walk into Alinea, hoping to enjoy an expensive upscale snooty dinner.
Maître d: I’m sorry we don’t allow loud whiny crying people.
Parents: what are we supposed to do with our 8 month old?
Maître d: I was talking to the 8 month old.
In case you were lucky enough to miss the latest Things That Don’t Concern Us But We’ll Chime In About fracas of the week, allow me to bring you up to speed: Grant Achatz, superstar chef of Alinea, sent a Tweet heard round the Internet when a couple’s infant allegedly cried during the restaurant’s dinner service.
Achatz tweeted: “Tbl brings 8mo.Old. It cries. Diners mad. Tell ppl no kids? Subject diners 2crying? Ppl take infants 2 plays? Concerts? Hate saying no,but..” via @Gachatz.
Alinea apparently is one of America’s most celebrated restaurants, where you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind gastro molecular experience at
a price equal to many monthly mortgages a very expensive price.
We’re still waiting on Kim Jong-un, The Pope and two guys in Yamoussoukro to opine but the rest of the Internet didn’t hesitate to chime in on the subject. A parody account (@AlineaBaby) and a Yelp review written from the baby’s point of view have already sprouted up. By the time national news had picked up the story, the whole hoopla had been christened Babygate or BabyCryGate. [I think this serves as an argument that we need to have moratorium on the whole name any scandal –gate.]
First there’s the No-Way Jose Camp that feels absolutely under NO circumstances WHATSOEVER do you ever bring a baby to a fancy, expensive dinner. Then there’s the Okay-Just-This-Once Camp that feels since child care bailed 11th hour and the couple would be out the equivalent of the Gross National Product of Namibia, it’s okay just this one time.
Then there’s the Not This Situation But Camp who point out that kids shouldn’t be brought to movie theaters, sporting events and hey, could you actually keep them in your womb until it’s time to ship them off to college, who want to vent their spleen about all the volume crimes small children have every committed against them.
I could go one but I’m running out of cute names for these camps.
You can certainly make an argument for any of these camps. And a counter-argument. And a counter-counter argument. We at Chicago Now have been debating it for hours in our Super Secret Bat Cave hideout. The thing is, there is no perfect solution because Life and People are seldom, if ever, perfect.
Everyone would handle this situation slightly differently than the next person. Sure some would opt to stay home, others would call someone and see if they wanted to take their spot. Even the same couple, if they had to make the decision twice, might do something different each time. I’m not sure how they would be in that situation twice. Break a mirror? Gypsy Curse. Drive a Delorean?
The thing to remember is unless you were actually there it’s hard to say what exactly went down and, more importantly, how you would react. Case in point: Different Media outlets are reporting differently on Alinea’s policy of transferring tickets. Tribune says they allow it, but Today quoting Chicago Eatery says they don’t. That context alone is important to straighten out before chiming in on what one would hypothetically do or not do in a situation with 100% 20-20 hindsight.
As a childless family I would hope that if we someday have kids we would not subject them to this. When I use to attend mass, I’d get annoyed if someone brought their germy projectile-barfing poopsacks to service and it started crying. It always felt like I was sitting right next to the kid when in fact it was more often the acoustics of the church. I solved this problem by stopping going to church. Come to think of it, that’s probably why the family brought the kid to Mass; to be able to leave early, like before the offering plate is passed around.
Maybe the couple was simply hoping to be asked to leave before the check arrived!
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