I live in the West End and the proliferation of TVs in restaurants is officially out of hand. What started out as a sports bar thing years ago and ostensibly a choice, is now an in-your-face fixture that is growing increasingly difficult to avoid. In cafes, diners, takeout joints, and even your finer dining establishments, there it blazes, the unblinking idiot-box eye—an intrusion and distraction that I never asked for. Did anybody? Was there some kind of soft revolution that I missed out on whereupon the masses demanded television with their restaurant fare? And the larger and more plentiful the screens, the better?
Among the grim assaults to the senses, I've been submitted to ultimate fighting with Indian, suicide bomber aftermath with a burger, American Idol with Italian, and of course hockey with everything, as if there can be no possibility of the existence in this town of anyone who doesn't give a shit about Our Most Glorious Sport.
What if I don't want to watch TV? Even if you are not technically watching, it's still intrusive; trying not to watch becomes as irritating as watching. Requests to shut the box off have taught me that the best I can hope for is a channel change or a dip in the volume, with a change of seats sometimes reluctantly granted if the screen is looming over your head like an interrogation lamp.
Out of the five places in the West End that I would call regular haunts, the saturation is now complete, some with the TV presence now so obnoxious that they've lost my business. And that's the only choice left: put up with it or forget the once not unreasonable expectation of the relaxed, pleasant experience of going out to eat. Do we have to shrug and mutter, "Well, I guess you can't do anything about it—it's here to stay" about everything?