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Last Sunday, in celebration of my husband’s birthday, we went to a terrific restaurant in downtown San Carlos, Town. The meal was delicious. The service was attentive and polite. Although it’s not the quietest restaurant around, J. and I were able to hear our conversation just fine and talked about topics meaningful and personal. It was a great date.

And then–I went to the bathroom. For the second time this month, I encountered a television set in the bathroom. The first time was at a family wedding at the otherwise classy Baltimore Hyatt Regency, where they embed the TV screens in the restroom mirrors, as if it is important to keep up with world events while one is adjusting one’s lipstick and washing hands. The TV in Town’s restroom wasn’t quite as fancy as that. It was beside the sinks, facing in such a way that suggested it was for those who were standing in line for the loo and tuned strangely to the FOOD Network. Apparently, it’s now OK to watch Iron Chef America while waiting to pee in a public place.

In general, Town is a little cluttered by televisions. The bar area is not particularly set aside from the dining tables, and the screens are set on various sports channels. It’s a tasty restaurant which seems to serve some as a sports bar. This is not an uncommon issue in the SF Bay area. I’ve had to work for years at ignoring TV screens as I try to savor my food (I really believe that food tastes better in the absence in a TV) and focus on my companions (whose conversation is way more important and pleasant than anything that could be occurring on the screen).

Lately, during lazy summer evenings at home, I’ve been experiencing less of a desire to watch television, and even my favorite shows pile up on our DVR. I’m more likely to spend my evenings reading recently– sometimes in digital form, but more likely from print. I feel over-saturated by media constantly screaming for my attention like street hawkers.

Televisions in restaurant dining rooms were somehow less jarring to me than the ones in the restrooms. For me, restrooms are either functional–facilitating a humble bodily need, hopefully in an aesthetically pleasing setting–or a respite from a busy gathering. Few people understand the desire for a few fleeting personal moments more than parents of small children who don’t want their parents to empty their bladders in privacy. I like bathrooms to be beautiful little oases in the busy, noisy world. Even bringing a smartphone into the restroom seems odd–even if I myself have sometimes done this–but it’s at least a self-directed activity.

Anyone else want the restroom TVs to disappear?

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