Friday, January 11, 2008

porringers and pablum

600 words on the infantilization of America?  The fact that every new restaurant is populated by HIGH BAR CHAIRS clustered around HIGH TABLES, instead of human-sized/-scaled, on the ground, comfortable seating with space around them. The bar stools are not even the diner stools of yore, lined up in an egalitarian fashion at the counter, onto which one can easily slide and off from any angle, spin a lil, twirl slightly back and forth, let your bum hang off the back. These are HIGH chairs. With backs. Add a little snap-on tray, and....I can see us all banging our plastic Winnie the Pooh spoons for more Cheerios.

They're supposed to suggest the opposite, of course -- drinking. I went with a friend to a new restaurant I've wanted to try the other day (coughEnglishcough), which had nothing but high bar seating on all three floors of the place. Not just the bar. We had to leave, and find another place, which thankfully had cozy banquette seating and the requisite good pub grub and shandies, comfy and cozy as heck, if as carefully stage-directed out of thin air (different restaurant issue).

Obviously there are reasons for high-top/raised/high-chair bar seating, a primary mercenary one being it saves restaurateurs space--also interior designers; bar stools/high chairs seem to be roaring back into kitchen design again these days. You probably need half the room to pack in the same number of people, not to mention you don't have to plan the space as carefully. You can just wing all the cheap-ass furniture out there willy-nilly or tuck them under a counter. And if you're goin for a gastropub/casual bar look, then bar chairs help. There is supposed to be something fun and cazsh about eating feet in the air.

All I know as a fat chick is that I loathe them. They are my bete noire. They do not accommodate me, I cannot use them. And even if they are open in back and I can balance on them, I end up wobbling, straining, my fat ass sliding around, feet casting about flailingly for other stability, the blood flow cut off in my thighs, joints aching, completely unable to relax, talk or even gain leverage to cut food--mostly just feeling demeaned into a circus act. It's not just that, though.

It's all so kind of... infantilizing. You feel youngified, temporary, wobbling on a bar chair with our waiter at eye-level, as if they're about to wipe your chin, even more sardined-in than usual. I know space is a luxury in restaurants, and you can't always have beautifully wide-spaced, intime yet cozy tables with good acoustics as at a Tru more than just a few times in your life (and it's not like that's always what you want anyhow), but OH, is inspired comfortable seating in restaurants good. It soothes, it restores. You can relax, expand, become generous and sweet, eat well, cut your food, hear your friend, snatch a little timelessness away from life. Shoot, I just want to be comfortable. Feel that if I dropped my purse I could pick it up again without a winch. Or my mommy picking it up for me.

A tavola si non invecchia. Time spent at the table does not age. That's true, but not on a bar chair.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are so right on with this, so right on. I even had a cute "bistro" set in my apartment once. I made a nice dinner with my friend and tried to perch on it.

I gave up when I heard a big crack...