“The first thing in the human personality that dissolves in alcohol is dignity.” — Author Unknown
The restaurant, about the size our living room, was filled with diners, mostly French. The singer and the pianist had taken a break, and we were feasting on our desserts. Abruptly, the hum of private tete-a-tetes was shattered when a boozed-up party of five burst into the room.
First an old man staggered in, bumping into tables as he fumbled around for a chair. Then, two men– his sons, we’d surmise– and their wives followed. “Grazie!” one bellowed to the restaurant owner who showed them to the table. Grazie? Were they Italians? No. Definitely not. Right away, we knew they were Americans, the kind that didn’t know the difference between “Grazie” and “Merci.”
Immediately they trampled on the ambience of quiet civility. Every slurred word and brash comment ricocheted around the room. “I want champagne! I want champagne right now!” screeched one woman, whose husband shushed her. “You don’t need any champagne!” he insisted. She persisted; their squabble accelerated.
Meanwhile, the other son and the old man confabbed about some business deal. That guy would just have to take it or leave it, he was an asshole, they weren’t gonna leave any money on the table, they’d show him. Oblivious to the other diners, these hotshots blathered on, clearly impressed with their business acumen.
We all knew their drink orders, and we all heard every snippet of their plan to squeeze money out of someone back home. Maybe in a TGIFriday’s or a Buffalo Wild Wings, their decibel level might have been drowned out under the rumble of big screen NFL games. But not here, in this elegant little space, with Parisians whose voices don’t carry past their own companions.
Other patrons shot disapproving glances their way. They never noticed. We finished our desserts and our wine, cringing at the spectacle as we slunk away. Proud to be Americans? Not that night.