The rain has turned into a downpour, but we don’t care. We decide to take a walk in search of fun and food. We manage to find our way onto a path to the town’s main road, which we walk down for just five minutes before stumbling upon an Italian restaurant. The sign out front reads “Betuccini’s Pizzeria & Trattoria,” but they don’t look open. It’s dark all around the restaurant. We peer into the windows, but we can’t see much of anything. We cautiously try the front door, and it opens. It’s so dark inside we feel, for a moment, a little scared. The entryway resembles a cave with low clearance. Then, the smells of garlic and simmering sauces hit us, and we know we’re where we’re meant to be. The dim hall opens into a beautiful restaurant with a warm feel. We’ve discovered a wonderful secret—and all off-line.
When we sit down, I notice my first instinct is still to take out my phone and surf my apps while waiting for the server. No dice on this trip: Kristy and I must sit and look at each other and at the restaurant’s decor. We have to talk to each other. How weird!
When I think about how I might describe the feeling to someone younger, I hear myself saying, “Back in the day, we sat and looked at each other, and we talked.” Back in the day. For most people, when we talked to each other in restaurants means just ten or fifteen years ago—before smartphones. But those were drastically different times.
Pretend it’s 1995 and talk to each other. (taken from a chalk board sign inside a coffee shop, Inxpot, in Keystone, Colorado. “We don’t have WIFI,,,,Pretend it’s 1995 and talk to each other.”
Sitting in Betuccini’s with Kristy feels like playing an old board game that hasn’t been brought out for a while. We observe and discuss the artwork and the creativity it took to choose where to display each painting. I’m enjoying the conversation and the fact we’re noticing things we might otherwise ignore. With a smartphone to occupy the senses, who looks at decor?
Kristy notices some Italian words and phrases around the restaurant and asks me to translate. We are together: connecting and interacting. It is relaxing, and time feels like it’s standing still. Living in the moment is unrehearsed poetry. The romance is overflowing at our table, lit by candles rather than electronic blue lights. We are present.
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