What I will present to you below is an absolutely privileged rant, and I’m well aware of it. So before we get started, please save your comments about how entitled I must be to demand to be seated indoors. I have, in fact, dined outdoors many times in my life. What I’m presenting here are extremely valid, mostly sensical points that explain why (when given a choice) I will choose to dine indoors every single time.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s where it all gets interesting. Here in Chicago many of us are praying, practically begging whoever it is that controls the weather up here to finally make the transition from blistering winter to a warm, pleasant spring. As the warmer days approach (seriously please tell me they’re coming), I know I will be faced with the option to dine indoors or sit outside. There’s no contest here. Dining indoors is always the way to go.
First off, while I love the sunshine warming my perpetually cold, pale skin, the weather is just too unpredictable to trust. Consider something as seemingly mild as a windy day. The gusts of air can be so strong they send napkins flying or lift up the table cloth or topple over pretty much anything that isn’t weighted down. Or maybe the tables are situated just a bit too close to the alley and you catch a hearty whiff of whatever is in the dumpster on the side of the building.
Then there’s the sun. I would never ever say I want less sun, but I’ll admit I am a sweaty woman. It will not matter whether I am wearing shorts and a T-shirt or the most flowy sundress imaginable, if the sun is beaming, my back will be sporting a giant sweat stain. Combine this with a windy day and I’ll be simultaneously sweaty but cold. You might suggest I put on a sweater if I’m cold, but then what do I do about the sweat? Then don’t wear a sweater. But what do I do about the cold, then? The cycle never ends.
At least if I’m dining indoors and I get cold, I can toss on a sweater or jacket and know that it will keep me warm throughout the meal. Sitting outside leaves your dining experience at the mercy of the elements, and if anything, it would be unfair to judge the restaurant on an atmosphere it cannot control.
When you dine indoors and find a fly in your drink or a bug on your plate, you have every right to demand better quality from the restaurant. But when you choose to dine outdoors and a fly is buzzing around your table only to wind up on your food, that’s no one’s fault but your own for choosing to sit out there.
Dining outdoors can sound appealing because you get to breathe in the fresh air or maybe take in a view, but what comes with those views are the creatures of the outdoors. If it’s not a fly, then it’s a bee which immediately sends me into panic mode. No, I do not swat the bees that decide to join my table. Rather, I’m the type that becomes paralyzed with fear and just lets them swarm my food out of fear of being stung.
I don’t want to limit my ordering options out of fear of an attack, but that tropical beverage garnished with exotic fruits and flower petals might be the exact reason my table has become a hive.
Sometimes it’s just fun to people watch, but when you dine outdoors, oh how the tables do turn. Your conversation, your meal choice, and your entire appearance are on full display for anyone just casually walking by. And yes I know, the adult thing would be to ignore the onlookers and focus on my meal. But, you know that feeling you get when you just know someone’s eyes are on you? Imagine that feeling over and over again while you’re just trying to take a bite.
Sure, the people walking by probably don’t care all that much about you, but that doesn’t stop their eyes from scanning. Plus, it’s almost impossible not to have at least one moment of awkward eye contact with a stranger when your table is about three feet away from the sidewalk they’re strolling on. I don’t think anyone enjoys being watched while they eat, except for maybe competitive eaters. Alas, that I am not.
Eating indoors is just superior. You cannot convince me otherwise. I will soak up my vitamin D some other time, but while I eat I want to be comfortable and cozy with four solid walls surrounding me.