Dear Restaurant FaceTimer


Sorry, sorry. I got distracted. You keep guarding your screen and I feel an almost existential need to see it. We all do, really. It’s where the action is. I bet by the end of our night together, your FaceTime call will have its own Yelp review. That would feel big for us all. 

Oh—yes, yes, sorry. Back to the question you didn’t ask, but I feel like I know you and you’re thinking it: rest assured, this is a very nice restaurant with great service, so I bet they wouldn’t mind turning the music down. It is hard to properly FaceTime over effervescent supper jazz.

The moment you walked in here, the air shifted. Mostly because your voice soared over the rest of us like a bird of prey making love or war or both concurrently. I’ve got a side bet with my girlfriend that you do theater, and the back row adores you. If I seem to be leaning in, it’s because I have to see the reaction of Tina (or did you say "Tim" and then "uh"?) when she or he watches your live, front-facing camera tour of this place. It’s elegantly designed, right Tina or Timuh? Or did you move the phone too fast around and give Tina or Timuh vertigo? Anyway, they should be here. 

Between you and I and the rest of us, I bet Tina or Timuh love this FaceTime. By their tone, they may sound a little sore that the nonprofit sector doesn’t pay Truffle Tuesday salaries. But I bet they’re excited you’re sharing your love of rare dinner fungi through video. No use in both of you tirelessly working to mitigate a discriminatory bureaucratic system over a lukewarm bowl of boxed mac ‘n’ cheese. They can live through you, and feel the love as you air-toast mezcal old-fashioneds by that plant wall. Bet they can almost smell the designer oxygen. Doesn’t matter who’s on the less opulent end of our FaceTime, as long as there’s real human connection. 

We can call it that now, right—our Facetime? I feel like we’re all in this together. 

What? Annoyed? Even if we were sure you’d given us permission, that’s not what we would feel. Not now, at least, as far as we’ve come together. We’re mostly struggling to feel included. You see, the good thing about FaceTiming in a room full of people is that—and this is backed up by scientists!—you kind of have to yell. So we totally got your part of the conversation. We even Tweeted a few of your better zingers.

It’s harder, however, to make out what Tina or Timuh is saying. The iPhone’s audio, heard at a distance, has no low end, or high end. It’s just kind of a tinny, genderless, 3G middle. Even cranked to full volume, her or his voice sounds like it’s being eaten alive by a mean part of the Matrix. Can’t speak for the rest of us who just ordered the $20 avocado (don’t worry, it’s on toast), but I wish you had a boombox so that we could get some thick bass in here and truly understand Tina or Timuh’s narrative thrust.

Wait, no—don’t put the earbuds in. I mean, you do you. That’s important. But it kind of ruins our voyeuristic joyride through your great life that we specifically requested on OpenTable. See, my girlfriend’s a reader. I know, I know. But she read that only hearing half of a phone conversation (they call it a "halfalogue") impairs the cognitive functions of everyone in the general vicinity. That may explain why I just ordered the third-cheapest bottle of wine (if I weren’t impaired, the second-cheapest would’ve done just fine). So take out the headphones and let us hear Tina or Timuh! I mean, if you care to. Our cognition isn’t quite right, so maybe ignore us. 

Uh-oh—looks like you’ve got competition. There’s a couple screening baby videos at max volume over at the communal table. Parents have it rough. This is probably their first chance in a while to enjoy an evening without their bundle of tinnitus. So they brought thousands of videos of their little decibel along with them. Tech really bonds families together, like those men tethered in solidarity on the sides of highways. Plus, everyone knows you don’t show baby videos in an uncrowded area (like, say, via text or outside). Waste all that cuteness on the great outdoors? May as well have your baby scream adorably into the void. It’s either before the amuse bouche or in a crowded elevator, I always say. Oh, now they’re showing the waiter. His night just got better. 

OK, my girlfriend is saying we should go. Think that’s what she said. Couldn’t really hear her (she’s great, but no theater prodigy like you know who). We believe in you. You got this. The man at the bar watching yelling memes is but a mere opening act; you’re more of a fully developed, one-person show. Keep holding the room and tell Tina or Timuh we say we hope the sweet release of death for them. 

Actually, you know what, sorry, mind if I just—hey, let go for a second—HI TINA OR TIMUH IT WAS GREAT GETTING TO KNOW YOU GOTTA COME HERE AND TRY THE TONKOTSU!


Troy Johnson is the magazine’s award-winning food writer and humorist, and a long-standing expert on Food Network. His work has been featured on NatGeo, Travel Channel, NPR, and in Food Matters, a textbook of the best American food writing.

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