by Benjamin J. Kirby
There's a pizza place I've always wanted to try on 1st Avenue North in St. Petersburg -- Cappy's Pizza. I'm a pizza nut, and though I am loyal to my neighbors at Fazio's, I'm not above trying something new when it comes to pizza.
As it happens, my friends Tony and Robin at Fazio's might not have anything to worry about now.
This story was reported a few days ago, but I've been thinking about it a lot. After all, I have two kids now.
It seems the owner of Cappy's put a sign up that said: "For the comfort and safety of everybody, if you allow your child to run, scream or misbehave, you will be asked to leave."
We don't go out a lot because, well, we have two kids -- one of them virtually brand-new. And even before Finn was born, it's not easy taking a toddler out to eat. It requires a lot of prep time, and no matter how prepared you might be, there's no guaranteeing she'll be in a good mood. Besides, it's cheaper and usually more healthy for us to eat and home. And Duncan, a great cook, likes making dinner.
That being said, when we have gone out, Emmy is quite well-behaved. Sure, she gets impatient and squirmy sometimes, but she's two. It's going to happen. There's never been any running, screaming, or "misbehaving," whatever that is.
Here's the deal: Scooter Gabel, the owner, could have said something very different. He could have said, "For the comfort and safety of everybody, unruly customers will be asked to leave."
Or customers who are loud, or disruptive. They serve beer and wine there. What if some annoying drunk guy ruins my meal because he's "misbehaving". Where's his sign? [There may be one there, I don't know.]
He deliberately singled out children.
Look, I don't think the guy actually meant to be divisive. I think his sign is just worded really poorly.
Seems like a bad business decision -- especially since the place has toys everwhere. I get it, the vintage toys are "art" or something (hasn't this guy seen the Toy Story trilogy? Toys aren't meant to be played with... by children.). Whatever.
Okay, so why is this political? It's not, really, except for the part about division.
Check out the reaction from Clark Brooks here.
Oh yeah, I hate 'em. I hate them and I'm sitting there, wishing with all my might that something terrible will happen to them. That's about as far as I'm taking my hatred though. Maybe I won't throw them into a deep fryer myself but if they happen to fall in there somehow, I'm not running to get help. Hey, my meal is ruined; I should be allowed to at least fantasize about something that I would enjoy. Remember the old saying about giving someone something to scream about? Doing an impression of a corndog qualifies.
More importantly, if they're your kids (biologically or otherwise), I hate you and I am sitting there hoping that something really bad happens to you. Because ultimately, it's not really their fault, is it? No, it's yours. So mostly you.
Well, that got him going.
What's funny is, I don't disagree with Clark. It's the kids who are genuine terrors who ruin the dining out experience for the rest of us. Look, I hate the annoying, screaming kid as much as the next guy.
But signs like the one at Cappy's has a chilling effect on all parents (it certainly has for me and Duncan).
We're about to be subjected to an entire summer of political division and probably a lot of hatred, mostly communicated through TV and radio ads. There'll be a lot of us versus them, and this is reminiscent of that. I don't think we need any more division than we'll already be having, thanks.
Besides, I'm hungry for pizza.