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Kunin: The Quiet Restaurant

One of my day dreams is to open a restaurant. It would be called “The Quiet Restaurant,” a place with good food where customers could talk without getting sore throats and actually hear one another.

No blast of loud music would greet the customer at the door. The sound of silence would suffice.

Inside, there would be thick carpets, heavy drapes, and upholstered walls and ceiling. In this restaurant there would be no tin ceilings, bare brick walls or slate floors. Instead there would be pillows, lots of pillows to sit on and absorb the noise.

Orders would be taken on a tablet. To order steak customers could choose “rare, medium or well done,” with a silent tap of a finger. And there would be an entire page of questions about gluten, all answered silently.

The dining room host would encourage the clientele to speak softly. And the restaurant would soon develop a reputation as a venue where secrets can be shared without being heard at the next table. Gossip, business deals, even confessions, and politics, could be discussed freely.

Romantic conversations also require a quiet setting. If you feel the tug of romance while sitting at a table for two and lean across the table to say “I love you” you don’t want to have to repeat yourself. It’s hard enough to make that declaration the first time, and it’s important not to be misunderstood.

Upon request, a customer will be escorted to a really quiet table, hidden away in the back of the restaurant, far from the kitchen. There used to be a restaurant in Montpelier which offered seating at a table for two that was draped by velvet curtains that closed. Who knows what secrets those drapes could reveal?

Of course there will be no texting. Yes, texting is quiet, but instead of texting LOL people will laugh out loud. Laughter is the exception to the rule in the Quiet Restaurant. In fact, it will be common, because diners will be able to hear the punch line of a joke.

And yes, in the Quiet Restaurant, more people over sixty than under will be sitting at the tables. But I won’t worry about the lack of young customers at my restaurant. Give them a few years, and they'll be lining up at the door fiddling with their hearing aids.

Madeleine May Kunin is a former governor of Vermont, and author of "The New Feminist Agenda, Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work and Family," published by Chelsea Green.
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