Why I Hate Something You Love: Eating and Drinking Outside
I live in one of the most beautiful places in the world: Colorado. My state makes Pandora from Avatar look like Camden, New Jersey. Mountain views are the rule, not the exception. Humidity is non-existent. The sun shines on a near constant basis. I live in a place with seemingly perfect conditions for outdoor dining, but I absolutely hate it. Here's why.
There's nothing better than sipping a beer underneath the sun, and then falling asleep at 7pm from dehydration and exhaustion, especially if you enjoy sweating. In case it's been a while since you've sweated from being outside under its unrelenting, blistering rays, let me remind you how that feels. Sweating is essentially taking a shower in your own funk. You can walk around with a Pig-Pen-like cloud of spray deodorant and Giorgio Armani Acqua Di Gio all you want, but you can't stop sweat from pouring out your face, buddy.
In theory, I don't mind sitting on a patio under an umbrella, where it’s slightly cooler, but there's always a sliver of sun that only burns my left arm below the elbow. That sliver of sun follows me wherever I sit like a spam Twitter account, but with more annoying consequences. LIKE MELANOMA. Because I don't tan, that half-arm T-shirt sunburn will stay with me until November, so I'm stuck looking like an out-of-place farmer in Colorado who wore a three-quarter sleeve shirt on the tractor.
You know where I can get the benefit of the sun's light without needing to lather my pale white skin in SPF 1,045 and my ice-cold beer won’t turn into a lukewarm cup of carbonated tea in approximately three minutes? Inside.
Mosquitoes absolutely love me, and show their love by putting hickey-size bites on my legs and arms every time I have the temerity to wear something short-sleeved, which means they're layering bug bites that I want to scratch on top of a painful, weird-looking sunburn.
But it's not just mosquitoes to worry about when you dine outside. Here's a short list of bugs you might remember trying to steal your food and beer during that disastrous picnic your company had last summer: spiders, ants, aunts (JK, they're not bugs, I just like homophones), fruit flies, moths, bees, bees, and also bees. While it's important that bees don't die out so that I can still buy reasonably priced fruit in the supermarket, I also don't think they need a bite of my ice cream to survive.
And since bugs, like non-bug life forms, enjoy food, it seems strange to me that people bring huge plates of fragrant, delicious food outside, which plays right into the bugs' hands. Do bugs even have hands? Anyway, you know where I can eat a meal in peace, without needing to swat away a fly every 15 seconds? Inside.
Other people's dogs
I love dogs! But the absolute worst time to have a dog is when you're eating. Every dog knows that if they nudge into you, or look up at you with those adorable dog eyes, you'll throw them a scrap. And in the summer, people bring their dogs everywhere and tie those poor pooches in the sweltering sun to the restaurant and bar patio fences. Remember how bad the sun was from earlier?
I admit there are benefits to watching a pug's face while you spoon cold gazpacho into your mouth. But did you know that pugs often have breathing problems? That makes me sad, and I don't need to be sad while I'm eating gazpacho, a typically joyous experience.
Even the best-behaved dog barks and begs and drools everywhere, and when I'm paying $15 for an overpriced hamburger at a faux-French bistro, I'd like to do it in peace. You know where I find a veritable oasis from man's best friend? Inside.
Other people... in general
Sidewalk seating is typically a small fraction of the total seating in a restaurant. Thus, you are often crammed in there, along with all 15 other smelly, sweaty, Acqua di Gio-covered people with farmer's tans covered in mosquito bites and spray-deodorant, crammed into a tiny, fenced off area with 15 puggles!
On the plus side, the close proximity to other diners is great for eavesdropping on people's crumbling relationships. But it's not the best way to enjoy the company of a friend, a family member, or the person you're breaking up with in public because you're worried they'd throw something at you if you did it in private. I'm speaking in general, here. You know where you don't have to overhear that balding rich guy's divorce proceedings? Say it with me... oh, you know where.