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Invasion Of The Peace And Quiet Snatchers


Do you know these women? Don’t get within 100 decibels, uh yards. They brought their babies to the Rose Café Friday morning, perhaps hoping to enhance the ambience by cutting the classical music, clinking glasses, and the dull murmur of adult conversation with the uninterrupted shrieks of their children.

The truth is, they didn’t care who they bothered -- although I was the only one who spoke up at the time, as usual. I am just not willing to sit there gritting my teeth that my eardrums and thoughts are being shattered. Later, a guy with a shaved head who'd been sitting opposite them looking pained at the noise and also my friend Kos commiserated with me about how rude these women were for bringing in their screaming kids. I'm sure there were others. The environment there is typically very calm and peaceful.

When I finally said something to them, they were aghast. Hey, ladies (and I’m using that term loosely), if I wanted to hear screaming babies, I’d go read my newspaper and eat my breakfast in a nursery school. Commenting on their oblivion to the presence of anyone but themselves in the place, I noted that my mother and father didn’t bring us anywhere until they were sure we didn’t disturb others. The mother giving me the finger repeatedly called me “ugly” and a “bitch” for suggesting they could be more considerate. She continued: “What do lonely, angry bitches like you know?” Well, a little something about public consideration, just for starters. I thought it was particularly funny that she suggested I look in the mirror (at my "ugly face") -- as if this would help me put a cork in her kid.

I suggested they read Cathy Seipp for tips on how to parent, since she seems to have done a very good job with Maia, generally has good ideas on the topic, and also seems to feel good manners are an essential part of the parenting mix. Of course, they accused me of hating children -- which I actually don't. I love my neighbors' kids so much that their 5-year-old actually calls me and asks me if he can come over and visit me when I haven't stopped by to see him in a few days. Then again, my neighbors are always concerned that their kids aren't bothering me -- and they never do -- because they're the first to say something if Jude and his friends are bouncing their ball on my house or my fence. Kids are kids, and a few shrieks or ball bounces, well, that's life. Persistent shrieks and noise, however, are another story.

Most hilariously, this woman not only didn't care whether anybody else was disturbed, she actually suggested they'd make it their business to come back to the Rose with their screaming kids in hopes of disturbing me again. My favorite part in our interaction, though, was when she accused me of being unhappy. In fact, I’m a very happy person, and generally come into the Rose all smiles. That said, I could be the ugliest, most miserable bitch on earth, and it doesn’t make them any less rude and inconsiderate for bringing their babies into an adult environment, letting them make ear-splitting shrieks, and failing to interrupt their conversation to take the kids outside or do anything to stop them.

Ladies, do society a favor and get your tubes tied.

Posted by aalkon at September 24, 2005 11:45 AM

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Gah. I hate parents like this. They give the rest of us a bad name. As I've mentioned before, we're pretty hyper-conscious of our son's behavior in public, and take great pains to be sure he's not disturbing anyone else.

OTOH, I've had to deal with people who are intolerant of children in ANY public space. A few years ago I had a woman start yelling "Shut up! Shut up!" at my 18-month-old son from three checkout lines down at the grocery store because he had the audacity to be tired and cranky and started to cry as I was paying for my groceries. I just smiled at her and said "have a nice day." Sometimes you just have to get stuff done and don't have the option to leave the kid at home.

Posted by: deja pseu at September 24, 2005 12:21 PM

I always complliment parents with well-behaved children. I'm always so grateful. Again, sometimes you encounter parents with cranky children when you're out in the world. Shit happens. When shit is allowed to fly with abandon, that's when I start speaking up.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 24, 2005 12:28 PM

When my son Tyrone was about a year old, my ex and I found ourselves in one of those binds--we really needed to just go to a restaurant (tired, cranky), but we had an equally tired, cranky one year-old with us. Our solution? The coffee shop at the bowling alley! Surely we would be within the polite decibel range in such environs.... well, we were, until Tyro braced his pudgy little legs against the lip of the formica table and kicked it over, spraying icewater and frenchfries in a 20 foot radius. That was our last restaurant visit for several years. I simply arranged my life otherwise for that period of time when restaurant going was more work than pleasure. I found that staying home was a great way to avoid stress--for me and the other 10 million inhabitants of LA.

Posted by: Hillary Johnson at September 24, 2005 12:29 PM

I'm curious as to why the guy and the girl on the left are smiling for the camera while the woman on the right is about to give you the bird.

Do you ever just complain to the management? Just wondering if it ever works.

Posted by: nashbonne at September 24, 2005 3:28 PM

deja- 18 months is too tiny a kid to stifle anyway (right?), and nobody comes to the grocery line for the vibes anyway. Hillary- God bless you for your sacrifice... Those of us who eat out too much appreciate it

Posted by: Crid at September 24, 2005 3:53 PM

Yeah, at 18 months the Id is pretty much still running the show, especially when it's getting near naptime.

We actually started taking our son to restaurants about once a week from the time he was a baby. We enjoy a meal out, and wanted to "train" him from the start so that a regular part of our lives would also be a regular part of his. On the one or two occasions where he misbehaved, we'd pack up and leave immediately, after paying the bill of course. The lesson was quickly learned. We still always make sure though, that we a) go someplace where it's appropriate to bring kids (which doesn't mean places with clowns or where everything is deep fried...we've found that Thai and other ethnic restaurants are often very welcoming to kids), b) make sure ahead of time that there will be items on the menu he will eat, c) bring along some of his favorite books to keep him entertained and d) we don't linger over coffee--there's about a one hour window before he starts getting restless. We really enjoy our weekly family dinner out. When hubby and I want to have a grownup meal in a nice place that includes multiple courses, we get a babysitter.

Posted by: deja pseu at September 24, 2005 4:13 PM

The woman on the left seemed sort of lobotomized the whole time. She never stopped smiling no matter what expletives the other woman was using or how vicious she got.

My boyfriend just suggested that I merchandize Advice Goddess muzzles. That's a thought.

The management in a lot of places doesn't want to get involved.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 24, 2005 4:50 PM

Deja and Hillary are my kind of parents.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 24, 2005 4:51 PM


Grocery store, car wash, Chuck 'E Cheese - I expect screaming kids. The movie theater (minus rated "G" movies), a restaurant, a bar (you laugh, but it's happened!) I do not.

I love how *you're* the bad guy for asking her to be more considerate? Egads.

Posted by: slackmistress at September 24, 2005 6:18 PM

Wow. Advice Goddess muzzles? I bet Lena Cuisina's got a market for you...(!)

Posted by: Radwaste at September 24, 2005 6:41 PM

"When I finally said something to them, they were aghast."

What exactly did you say?

Posted by: Jim Treacher at September 24, 2005 8:37 PM

"It's very disturbing that you allow your children to scream like that." But, remember, I only said that because I'm lonely, unhappy, and frighteningly ugly.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 24, 2005 8:46 PM

Once I was in a family-friendly restaurant and saw the most amazing thing. A couple brought with them a sort of high chair dropcloth that caught all the mess their well-behaved toddler made. When finished they folded it up and took it with them. These people made me expect the same consideration from other parents, and from myself.
I think part of the problem is that often thoughtful people like Amy, who would contribute valuable members to society, are wise enough to know they either aren't suited for parenthood, or have the sense to have only the 1 or 2 they can actually support well, while the obnoxious idiots of the world often produce 5 or 6 scary little clones.

Posted by: Kimberly at September 24, 2005 9:05 PM

Hillary the more I think of your bowling alley coffee house story the more I like it.

Posted by: Crid at September 25, 2005 3:44 AM

And I never, ever, flip anybody off!

Posted by: Cathy Seipp at September 25, 2005 11:09 AM

Advice Goddess muzzles

Posted by: Brian at September 30, 2005 1:08 PM

you are ugly though. I mean really ugly.

Posted by: mel at October 3, 2005 1:07 AM

Ooh, look, I believe we've met Ms. Finger's husband, just above. I saw them at Starbucks this weekend, told her she'd made my blog, and asked her if I should come over and sing Hari Krishna songs next to her or maybe read loudly from the paper. She told me I was "still disagreeable." The woman next to me asked what "that" was about, and when I told her, she thanked me for being one of those who spoke up "because some of us are too bashful to do it." --Amy Alkon, Loud Hag Of Your Peace And Quiet

PS What's really funny is how these people keep bringing it back to me, never addressing the real issue: that it's rude to let your loud brats scream in public places. Of course, that's indefensible, so they'd rather talk about how ugly I am!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 3, 2005 6:32 AM

Stop trying to steal my life you dyed red haired unfunny bitch

Posted by: Kathy Griffin at June 20, 2006 11:03 AM

Will you be my celebrity stalker?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at June 20, 2006 4:06 PM

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