What No One Wants to Hear

March 28, 2015

What no one wants to hear and everyone wants to talk about is their health.

Many years ago, when finances were too tight to spend money eating out, I wanted to celebrate an occasion by going to a restaurant with a friend. We chose a medium-priced restaurant that had the look and feel of luxury and we expected to have a lovely dinner.

This restaurant had small rooms that gave you the feeling that you were important enough to be separated from the unwashed masses. Our first table was located in a relatively quiet spot and all of a sudden, the people at the next table started arguing very loudly.

My stomach started to cramp up. I thought about all the money we were spending on this meal only to have the food sitting like lead in our tummies and I asked our waiter to change our table. He was kind enough to take us to a different room.

The next room was also quiet and I could feel myself starting to relax. Too soon. The people at the next table spent the entire meal talking about their constipation, their surgeries, their aches and pains, and their doctors and their prescribed medications.

I don’t know why people think their health problems are such riveting conversational subjects, but it seems as if that’s all they can talk about.

Through the years, I’ve heard different diners from all walks of life talk about their constipation problems. Is this really such an interesting topic while you’re eating dinner? In fact, is this really the kind of subject you want to have with someone who isn’t a family member or a very close friend? But, even more to the point, shouldn’t you be having this the kind of conversation with your doctor?

But the subject of surgeries, while you’re swallowing what started out to be an excellent meal, is in a class by itself. First you’re hearing about the diner’s bowel movements, and everyone at that table has a constipation problem to tell the other diners. Next, you hear about the grisly surgery they’ve just endured.

I don’t know what it is about restaurants that make people broadcast their health problems to the world at large, but I always have the wish they could have these conversations with their doctor instead of announcing it to a roomful of strangers.

Perhaps the trick is to see if you can spot a table of people in their twenties or thirties, who look healthy, and ask to be seated near them because they’ll probably be talking about their dating problems rather than their health problems.

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