DEAR ABBY: What do you think of restaurants that have televisions in every room while you're trying to eat dinner with your family? They make me crazy! I can't stand them.
I consider dinnertime to be a special opportunity for family members to share a nutritious meal while conversing about the events of everyone's day. We don't answer the phone or the doorbell, nor do we watch TV, so that we can concentrate on hearing about school and work. Because during the rest of the day family members eat at different times and rush about, dinnertime is sacred.
Occasionally we dine out at different restaurants so that I can have a break from cooking and doing dishes. Lately they all seem to have TVs in every room, and instead of talking, everyone stares at the TV like hypnotized zombies.
If a baseball or football game is on, everything else is ignored. This defeats the purpose of having dinner out together.
Can anything be done to get the TVs removed from the dining areas in restaurants? Shouldn't there be a choice as to whether you eat in a room with a television or not? Restaurants used to have small TV sets in the bar area, but not in the dining room.
I hate to give up eating out, but I'm about ready to. Any other suggestions? -- TV-LESS MOM, SOUTH MIAMI, FLA.
DEAR MOM: You have my sympathy, but the restaurants are only obeying the laws of supply and demand. They are providing televised access to the games because their customers are demanding it. If the restaurateurs refuse, they risk losing business because their customers will watch the event elsewhere.
I agree that the "traditional" family dinner is important. Not only does it draw families closer, it also fosters communications skills. Sadly, however, I have heard from educators who tell me that fewer families are continuing the tradition -- and more and more children eat their meals glued to the television set. Of course, people who are distracted tend to overeat -- so not only does the net effect show up in a shrinkage of conversational skills, but there is a corresponding expansion of waistlines as well.
Some possible solutions to your problem: Make sure to avoid going to sports bars. Before making dinner reservations, do some reconnoitering. Scout around and see for yourself if there are any restaurants in your neighborhood that have TV-free dining rooms. There are probably some in every price range.